Call Yourself a Writer? Where Are Your Notes?

Writers are notorious collectors of slips of paper. They tear articles from magazines in the doctor's waiting room; they rip corners off newspapers in friend's houses because they need to write down something witty; and they stuff their bags and pockets with serviettes, cigarette packs, and discarded train tickets just because note making's second nature to them.

More often than not, when they eventually find a note, they haven't a clue what it was related to. Just yesterday, I found this one lurking at the bottom of bag I hadn't used for months. "House - blue window frames. Why wisteria?" Why, indeed! I hadn't the foggiest.

I'd made the one mistake a writer should never make. While I'd obviously found a handy supermarket cash-out slip for my note making, I hadn't dealt with my note within 24 hours. I certainly hadn't used any form of filing system - unless that's what you'd call the bottom of an old handbag.

Where A Writer's Notes Should Be Put

When I've been out, I'll usually fire up my computer as soon as I get home. I have a folder for document archiving that I've called 'Ideas'. Under there are a number of documents that I use as a filing system for my notes. Each note is put into one or more of the documents, depending where it fits.

Let's say I've made a note about Shahtoosh, and how the Tibetan Antelope is almost extinct thanks to our selfish desire for luxury. I'd transfer my writer's notes to a document called 'Environment', another called 'Wildlife' and a third named 'Fashion'. I could also put it under 'Human Selfishness', but I don't have one.

The point is that you should give your each file in your document archiving system a name that means something to you. If you mostly write about food and drink related subjects, you wouldn't need a filing system for 'Housing Issues'. If you did find something you'd like to write about housing, you could pop it in your 'Miscellaneous' file, a great place to rummage through when you fancy a break from your usual subjects.

No, what you need is 'Eating Out', 'Recipes', 'Wine', 'Alcoholic Beverages', 'Cakes and Deserts' or something along those lines. Only you know what best suits your writing.

Filing System Not Working? Don't Worry

When you first start working on your filing system, you'll probably make a few mistakes and find yourself moving things around. Don't worry - you'll get there in the end. Finding a document archiving system that works properly on the first try probably never happens. It's never happened to me, anyway.

Within each file-whether you've chosen to use an MS Word document or a plain text file-make sub-headings. Going back to the food and drink note making, sub-headings in the 'Eating Out' document could be 'Fast Food', 'Chinese Restaurants', 'Pub Meals', and 'Dinner Parties'. You could add more, obviously.

Do you see how a useful filing system is being built up?

If you think you'll have a lot under one heading, there's a second way of designed a filing system for your note making. Under your folder called 'Ideas'-or whatever you've chosen to call yours-you could have a sub-folder for 'Food and Drink'. The documents under this folder could then be called 'Fast Food', "Pub Meals', etc.

The point is, writer's notes get lost quickly so it's important you design a system that works for you. But just because you've designed yourself a mind-blowing filing system, don't rest on your laurels too much-it isn't all about note making, you have to actually transfer your notes, too!

Sharon Jacobsen is a full-time freelance writer living in South Cheshire, England. While she most enjoys writing about social and environmental issues, she'll happily populate your website with engaging, keyword rich articles on any just about any subject, from dog breeding to cricket.

To contact Sharon, or to find out more about her work, please

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