Writing a book is hard.
Writing many books is harder.
Writing books while raising two kids, working full time, acting as editor at GeekMom, writing songs, playing ukulele, and crafting anything I can get my hands on? Pretty much impossible.
I came to a strange realization a few months ago, after a very difficult run on Watcher of the Skies, the follow-up to my novel Pilgrim of the Sky. It took forever. I felt like I could never give it the time it needed, and every time I got stuck, I’d be out for days.
Now, there are a thousand pieces of writing advice out there. But I didn’t have to look far. It was my longtime friend and critique partner Jonathan Wood’s posts on story process that really got me thinking about how I go about writing my novels. About narrative and thought and character and… planning.
Yeah. See. I’ve always written the same way. As a pantser. I just get an idea, with some other random ideas sprinkled throughout, and sort of barrel through from beginning to end like a steam train. I have no idea what’s on the track, let alone if there are tunnels or bridges along the way. It’s totally fun, exciting. But absolutely impractical when life itself is complex enough to make me lose sleep.
So how do I keep track of my ideas? How do I keep inspired when I’m too tired to get up and take a shower, let alone figure out what my characters are doing next?
I digitize. I think outside the box. I take it in small chunks, and I keep it visual as much as I can–all with help from the Post-it Brand Evernote Collection.
We’ve been using Evernote here in the Harrison-Barron household for a while now and we are big fans of using Post-it Products to really enhance the whole experience–bringing two things we already use together in one perfect way is just too good an opportunity to pass up. Writers rooms have used Post-it Products for decades, and geeks like me need Evernote to keep me organized. Makes sense to put them together, doesn’t it? And while I’ve been using Scrivener as my novel writing software of choice, I decided to give Evernote a try this time, using Evernote in conjunction with special Post-it Notes from the Post-it Brand Evernote Collection. My first step was character profiles. The novel I’m working on now is called Bone Dust, and it’s basically Men In Black meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the old west. It’s alternate history with some paranormal, some gunslinging, and lots and lots of fun (and explosions… as you do).
My first step was to write out little character sketches for each of my main characters. What they look like, what their motivations are, how they got to Bodie, CA, where the story starts. Sometimes this part starts by itself–other times, I’m working and I get an idea for a scene or a character. So I draw it down on a Post-it Note from the Post-it Brand Evernote Collection–and here’s where it gets fun.
It’s so simple – with one tap of Evernote’s Post-it Note Camera feature, my Post-it Notes are captured, digitally enhanced and saved in my my Bone Dust folder within Evernote. Now I have my notes with me wherever I am. That means if I’m waiting in line at the cash register, or at the doctor’s office, or at my desk.
Adding a Post-it Note to my Bone Dust file. I click on the plus sign to add a note, select the camera, and then swipe to select Post-it Note format.
Snap the picture and it automatically converts to a scanned image. Now my Post-it Notes can be automatically organized by color, flagged with a reminder and tagged with a keyword for future reference.
Over the last few weeks I’ve managed these little mini snapshots of each of my main characters. You can see what Araby’s looks like below. I like sharing these with my friends and followers, too, which I can do straight from the app. It keeps them in the loop with what I’m working on, and looks pretty badass, too.
Also I love doodling. Did I mention that? It’s super sweet that I put that hobby to good use.
I like to think that the process really lights up all parts of my brain. It allows me to keep that tide of creativity going no matter where I am. Part of the reason that I love the flexibility of the Evernote app so much is that it really allows me full creativity to scribble and capture, even if my schedule is insanely full.
But there’s more! Stay tuned for another look at how the Post-it Brand Evernote Collection is keeping this scattered author organized! How about you writers out there–fiction and non-fiction alike? What do you use to stay organized and on-track?
This post is brought to you by Post-it Brand.