Sunday, 14 July 2013

Note-taking: Capture Your Ideas anywhere, anytime

Ever been frustrated because you forgot an idea before you could write it down? 

I absolutely hate when I lose great ideas, because I don't have a notebook and pen handy. Inspiration is like a spark of energy and the message it carries is at its most vivid the moment it strikes. In that moment I can feel, smell, taste and emote an idea the best, the words flowing of my writer's tongue at their most potent. So, I got in the habit of taking notes. Getting into the habit implying here, that it took some effort and time to readjust myself to the practice (in other words, sometimes I got more annoyed over taking notes than forgetting an idea. It was worth it though.)

Here are some of the tools I now use to make sure that all my ideas are captured. If you are not capturing all ideas yet, maybe you can find the right method for you here.

Traditional Note-taking Tools


Journals & Notebooks

The trick to these being handy is to place them in strategic locations in your flat and even your car. I have one next to my bed, one on the kitchen counter, one on my computer desk and, if I owned a car, I would have one in my glove compartment (just make sure you don't stop in the middle of the road to record your ideas).

If you are working on multiple stories or you just love cataloguing then you can section your notebooks by novel, character, or any other topic you can think of. That way your ideas will be more accessible when you come back to them at a later date.

Mobile Note-taking Tools

Modern technology can help out a lot with archiving ideas and re-organising them to our needs. I am an absolute fan of mobile apps with a synching function. They really help me leverage the limited writing time I have between a full-time job, friends and travels. Here are my favourites. Maybe one will strike you as the perfect solution for your own note-taking on the go.


OneNote and Evernote

Both OneNote and Evernote are organisation and filing programmes that come with an app family for nearly all operating systems on the market. Since the apps between themselves have the ability to synch across devices, I can access these programmes through any of the devices I have the most handy at the time. Also, I don't need WiFi 24/7 just to take notes. The apps will make sure they are up to date as soon as they can connect. I have had times were I took notes on my tablet on a bus ride, added a different idea to my collection via my Windows phone and finally fleshed out a scene when I was back home on my PC. I didn't even have to retype my notes from three different sheets of paper into one consolidated one. It was easy copy and paste. 

Evernote even has a neat voice recording function. On days when my fingers are too lazy to type, I put my ideas down on "tape" instead and attach the voice note right to one of my Evernote notebooks. Windows Media Player plays them back to me without fuzz (although sometimes hearing my own voice kinda ruins the moment. I am definitely not RJ material! At least not yet...)

OneNote , on the other hand, has been a lifesaver at work. In a high pressure job where prioritisation and efficiency is key, proper note-taking is essential. And the fact that OneNote also allows you to share notebooks with other users is a real time saver. This function might be especially helpful if you are co-authoring.

In case you are interested in starting to download either of these apps, click on the respective names in the paragraph headline. Also, here are two great articles to get you started on using them:

OneNote Intro by Microsoft
Evernote Intro by lifehacker

Recently I have discovered Pinterest. While this is not necessarily a note-taking tool, I am including it here, because I am using it that way. Similar to my notebooks, I have opened boards for the different novels I am currently working or plotting on (Example). I realised that pinterest is great for creative inspirational and emotive collections which provide visual cues to my writing. They help me dive back into my worlds more easily, give my character descriptions more depths and even boost my motivation for getting my story to paper. Nothing spurs me on more than seeing elements of a new world clicking together on a Pinterest board. Try it out if you haven't. I can guarantee you, you won't be disappointed, especially if you are a visual type like me.

That's it for today. I hope there was something here that might help you keep all your ideas in future. Anything missing? Do you have another way of taking notes that I didn't mention here, but which might help others along?

P.S.: The Microsoft bias was not intentional. Just happen to be locked in that universe. For iOS/Apple- and Android-Users I can still definitely recommend Evernote and Pinterest :)

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