When I start a book, I have one big idea. (In the case of Tiffany Girl, it was to fictionalize turn-of-the-century women who in spite of the odds against them, did a man’s job in a man’s world and completed Tiffany windows in time for the World’s Fair exhibit). But when I began to flesh out that idea, I suddenly had historical research, character descriptions, setting details and plot points to keep up with. I’d learned early in my career that organization is KEY to getting those ideas out of my head and into my manuscript. So I’ve developed a super organized writing journal to keep me on track. Without it, who knows where I’d be!
Now every author is different. Some keep their notes organized in applications specifically for writers. Some on spreadsheets. Some on flow charts pasted to their wall. There is no right or wrong way, it’s just what works for you. But if you’re an aspiring author and are in dire need of better organization, I thought I’d give you 3 easy steps for building a writing journal of your own just in case the method you’re currently using isn’t working for you.
1. Get your hands on a big binder. Personally, I like to use the Circa Notebooks made by Levenger. They’re heavy-duty and have plenty of space to hold all of my notes. The best part is that the pages can be taken out and moved around quickly and easily.
2. Print out a calendar of the year your story takes place and paste it to the inside front cover of your binder. When you’re plotting your story, this will help you keep track of how much time has passed, so you don’t confuse yourself or your readers.
3. Divide your binder into sections. I have tabs for characters, plotting, research and setting in my own writing journal. All of my information—including images and diagrams—stays safely in those sections so when I’m writing and need to refer back to something, it’s right at my fingertips.
That’s it! You’ve got your very own writing journal now and can keep adding to it as your notes and research come together. If you want more specifics about how I piece my own writing journal together, you can watch this video on my YouTube Channel for All the Juicy DeeTales. If you have any questions, post them on my Facebook page or tweet me at @DeeanneGist! I’ll do my best to answer them!