Monday, January 30, 2012

Squirrel Herder

O.k. I'm going to attempt to explain my "system" (term used loosely) for "organizing" (again, loosely) my writing projects. Since I am always being bombarded with ideas, I wanted to develop a way to easily gather and file "stuff" until I need it.

This is a very simple and frugal way of keeping track multiple projects. I know many people are firm believers in completing one project before even thinking about another one or, heaven forbid, multiple projects. To those people I say, "You are Awesomely Amazing!" I can't do it. I am like a dog chasing squirrels, and these are my squirrel cages.

Now, I'm not saying that I work on every single project that I have at one time. If I could do that, then I would be Awesomely Amazing!

No, I am currently working on two projects. But. When an idea for another project hits me, I definitely want to get it in a cage before it runs away. Then get back to the task at hand. This way, all the little squirrels can play outside in their cages, while I wrestle the alligator in my head.

All rightee then, let's get started. I see stories in my head as scenes. So I try to base everything around these scenes.

First. When an idea for a project hits me, I use a legal size expanding folder to create a master file to cage everything for this project.

Next, I use a standard composition book for my "catch-all." I write down everything for this project in here. I am not worried about any structure, order, sequence, etc. when I write in here. I'll show the filtering I use to make sense of all the brainstorming later on.

Now, I use a standard manila file folder and graph paper to make a master scene index and time line. I label one Sheet "Scene Index" and number it, as many as it will hold. I can always add more sheets if needed. Then, I add a time line sheet.

I put the summary of a scene on an index card and number it. Then, I put the same summary next to the corresponding number on the "Scene Index." The scene cards do not have to be in any particular order. If I remove a scene, I simply mark through it on the index. Once I have all my scene cards, I can arrange them later into the order they need to be in to make the story.
Then simply put the numbers from the cards, in order of the story, on the time line. No matter what happens to the cards, I can refer to the time line and scene index to know what order they were in.

When I put something in the "catch-all" book, I try to put a corresponding scene number at the top corner of the page. This way, it doesn't matter what order I write it in the book, I'll know what scene it relates to.

I also make a character shingle file to keep with the master file. Starting at the bottom of a cut manila file folder, I tape upside-down index cards overlapping each other. I write character names on the exposed bottom of each card and any basic info on the lines above.

I keep all the master files "squirrel cages" in a filing cabinet. Any time I get an idea, I can quickly pull the file and put the info where it needs to go, and stuff back into the file cabinet.

That pretty much sums up my method for wrangling all the squirrels running about in my head. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to writing

Life threw me a curve about a year and a half back. A new job and some lifestyle adjustments have had me mentally preoccupied. The dust is starting to settle, so I've decided to focus more attention on my writing goals this year. Not so much a resolution, but more of a determined effort to make some legitimate progress on a few of the projects I've had bouncing around in my head.

I've been working on some "hands-on" methods for collecting and organizing all the little nuggets of creative inspiration that attack me at erratic intervals. I'll share some of the "tools" I've been working on when I have some presentable samples.

 Please, stand by...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Index Card Template Screenshots

 Since I have received several request for this, thought I would re-post.

 An Index Card Template and the different features. I downloaded it from my google docs as a .ppt file for the template and I open it in Open Impress to use it. Just save the new file under a new project name and you'll always have the original template file for new projects. Did I mention the cost: "$FREE.00". Google Documents (free), the index card template (free), and Open (free).
(If anyone is interested in a copy of the .ppt template file, I would be glad to email it)

This is Normal edit mode

(click for larger pic)

Outline Mode

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Notes Mode

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Handout Mode

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Slide (scene) Sorter Mode

(click for larger pic)


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Capturing ideas evolved

OK, I thought when I figured out how to send and organize ideas using my cell phone and gmail that I had reached the end of my quest for a better mind trap. Well, that was before I set up my google voice account.

I haven't even started to tap the potential of this little miracle of modern technology, but I do know that all I have to do now is call and leave a voicemail about whatever idea or thought I have and voila! google voice transcribes the message into text. I don't have to worry about forgetting anything before I finish texting it.

While the transcriptions are less than perfect (spelling errors), I still get my ideas down in a third of the time it takes to write or text them.

What's next? google "thought"? I could just think about an idea and it would be recorded and transcribed somewhere in cyberspace...hmmm


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Capturing ideas

Wow, has it really been two months since my last post? Guess I was busier than I thought.

Anyway, I have been somewhat productive when time allowed. Making progress on the rough draft of my manuscript (2,738 words, yay me.)

I have also been working on better ways to capture all of the random crap (ideas, thoughts, etc...) that pops into my head, usually at the most inconvenient moment possible. I use to carry small pocket sized composition books with me wherever I went so I could jot down these random moments of divine inspiration. They work great, but it became too much of a burden to keep up with the little books and after losing one of them, I decided to find a better mousetrap.

Being the tech guru I'm not, it took some time devise a simple trapping technique for these rogue nuggets of creativity. I'm lazy and unorganized by choice, so my new system had to be compatible with my personality. Once I realized that I could text messages from my cell phone to my gmail account and filter the messages by their subject line, I knew i had found composition book 2.0.

In a nutshell; I get an idea for a story, a title, a character, a chunk of dialogue, whatever, I simply send it in a multimedia text message to my gmail. By putting relative keywords in the subject line, I can create filters to label the messages accordingly. When I need to retrieve the info, I just click on the appropriate label and every message I sent pops up instantly.

Easy, green, and I don't have to worry about it getting washed in my jeans.