Tuesday Topic: Note-Taking

I love research. This is no secret. Research gives me an excuse to read obscure, barely-relevant books and allows me to spend hours functioning under the delusion that I’m being productive without actually writing anything. I love it, and I would even make the claim that I’m good at it.

But I am very, very bad at taking notes. Which is not to say that I never do it. It is to say that I do it on the back of grocery receipts and sometimes the palm of my hand.

When I take notes, I make cryptic references to Middle Eastern foods and add exclamation points that are guaranteed to be baffling later. I draw diagrams that resemble the EKG for cardiac arrest and are unrecognizable as objects. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, struck by a revelation that will completely transform your story? Have you ever written that revelation down, only to find that in the morning, your brilliant solution makes no sense whatsoever? It’s like that. Only, when I’m awake.

So, after years of good-faith efforts, I’ve finally concluded that note-taking is not for me. Even in school, I never wrote things down. At the beginning of every semester, I’d try. For two days out of every school-year, I’d attempt to be responsible and organized, but writing down the lecture only distracted me from the lecture. I love research, I love articles and statistics and reference books, but taking notes just confuses me.

7 thoughts on “Tuesday Topic: Note-Taking

  1. I’m surprisingly good at taking notes for school.

    For writing, not so much. I’m getting better at it though. The wikis seem to help.

  2. I love looking at my notebooks from a few years ago and trying to decipher all my weird notes and diagrams. It’s a mystery. An often frustrating one.

    I’m so glad I don’t write on my hands, though.

  3. In the margins of a manuscript I was editing, I did a sketch so I could keep straight where all the various characters were sitting in a van, and then it occured to me my van looked sort of like a warthog.

    And then too days later I look at it and wonder why I’ve drawn a warthog with my character’s initials on its back.

  4. That is awesome! And exactly what I contend with every time I try to make notes like a real, responsible grown-up person.

  5. Now that I think about it, part of what minimizes my note-taking is that I do do so much research online, so I’ll just tab back and forth between the source and my manuscript, translating research into Brenna-speak and skipping the steps that involve actually, you know, making bullet points.

  6. So. Hard. To. Read.

    I used to actually take notes on the insides of my arms if it was really important, so I didn’t accidentally smear them.

  7. I think taking notes is a way for me to cement information in my head through the process of “writing it down”, but I rarely go back to them. I do have a fun little notebook where I only keep track of story and novel titles for all my future work 😉 If it’s a really good title, the whole thing just floods my head the minute I look at it.

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