After stumbling upon the question "what does your writing workflow look like?" on the 456bereastreet blog, I started to think about how I start my process with capturing information.
The techniques I use can be applied to just about any type of profession, so I thought I’d share them here.
I used to use a tiny notepad that could fit and stay in my pocket
all day. I used to buy them at my local handmade paper store (two hands paper in Boulder, CO). They were unique in that they had a reed that was used to hold the notebook closed which prevented business cards, change and other pocket contents from being jammed into my notes. I no longer use that type of notebook, but I still use the same pen. The Cross Ion Pen is unique in that it’s small enough to keep in your pocket without it jabbing into your leg. And it does not need a cap, instead you pull it (expand it really) to reveal the tip. Since you have to pull instead of push, the pen will never open while it’s in your pocket. It uses a gel ink with makes it a very smooth writing pen. It even comes with a lanyard tip so that you can wear it around your neck. That comes in handy if you ever attend trade shows or have to sign a lot of books at random moments during a conference.
-On my Mac, I use Hog Bay Notepad to capture and organize my random
article/book ideas. I have folders for books, magazine articles, web
ideas, etc. I also maintain a folder called ‘People’ that contains notes for each person I talk to on a regular basis. When I think of something I should mention to a particular person, I’ll put it on their page and I’ll also take notes on the same page during any telephone conversations. Hog Bay Notepad has a very fast search feature which allows me to easily locate any notes no matter how sloppy my folder structure becomes.
-I also have a Tablet PC (HP tc1100) and use Microsoft OneNote
for the note taking which is far superior to any other note taking software I
have ever seen. I used to use legal pads that were scattered all around
my home/office, but I ended up with something like 40 pads full of
ideas and I couldn’t find anything. I’ve completely replaced those
notepads with Microsoft OneNote. It’s not possible to cover the concepts of OneNote in a simple blog entry, if you need to take a considerable amount of notes, be sure to look into it.
I also have a rubberized case with shoulder strap that encloses all
but the screen side of the tablet. I keep the tablet on my shoulder
whenever I travel and I can start jotting notes within 5 seconds of
getting one and do it at anytime (on an esculator, etc.) It’s an
absolutely amazing way to work… no sitting required (unlike a
laptop)… you’d have to see it, then you’d get the idea within less
than a second. I also use Microsoft Streets & Trips with a tiny Bluetooth GPS receiver to get turn by turn directions when driving.
use my cell phone as my alarm clock so it’s always next to my bed at
night (I travel extensively and that way I have a consistent alarm all
the time). My phone (Audiovox SMT5600)
as a button on the side that I can hold to open the voice recording
application. I record ideas as soon as they come to me. I also do this
while I’m out and about doing errands or traveling. Those notes sync
with Microsoft OneNote when I connect the phone to my Tablet.
In a future entry, I’ll describe how I organize my notes and start my writing process.