How One Writer Uses Story Notebooks

Making the Most of Story Notebooks
August 22, 2018
Hannah Truelove

Today I’ll be sharing how I organize my Works in Progress.

I’ve never been one of those writers who can create a full outline, block out scenes, and then stick exactly to it from beginning to end.

No. every time I go to write, I find that I usually keep the major outline points, but zig-zag all over the smaller ones until I have to throw out a lot of my outline because it just doesn’t work anymore. That’s why I use a Story Notebook to organize my current novels.

Story Notebook image

Story Notebook
I use a simple spiral notebook, and turn it into a scribbly mess with my thoughts and revised outlines as I write every day. Then at night, I work on my Nightly Notes, which is where I organize the jumble into a simple, non-committal outline that reminds me of my big ideas but allows me to think my scenes and chapters through a smaller chunk at a time.

The secret of the Story Notebook is that there’s really no secret. It’s pure and simple notetaking, just in the middle of writing. I don’t organize my ideas or even separate them into categories until I’ve completely finished writing for the day (ha!). I simply jot down any ideas I have for scene changes, improved plot lines or anything else I think of. I just take a moment to jot it into the Story Notebook and then hurry back to writing! Starting every day knowing exactly what you want to add, change, or fix makes avoiding dry spells and writer’s block so much easier!

Digital Story Notebooks
I love the simplicity of a notebook and a pen, but if you are tech-dependent there are a lot of programs and apps you can use as well. I keep the Novelist app on my phone to organize my ideas on the go.

For me, I keep the notebook as simple and messy as possible. It’s a place to store all my great story ideas the moment they come to me before I get distracted or let the ideas get diluted. I write them down and then look at them later after I’m out of the writing haze and have fresh eyes.

When I finish my first drafts, I switch from a Story Notebook to a Story Binder, which is really when my story note organization goes insane.

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