After sending my submission for the Author Quest, I fully intended to get right back to work. But as it turns out, I was a bit spent and needed some downtime.
I spent Christmas Day at my parent’s acreage, which is about a 30 minute drive from my home. It’s a nice drive and being out there is very calming for me. Talk turned to the Author Quest and my father posed a question that gave me a lot to consider.
“You must have learned a lot.”
As it turned out, I learned a great deal. First and foremost, I learned that I am more than capable of the task at hand. I set a deadline and stuck to it, but more importantly I couldn’t be more proud of the work that I did. I am extremely happy with what I have come up with so far and can’t wait to see what is still to come.
I also learned that a binder is definitely the way to go. I was using notebooks, but the issue I had was that the information wasn’t organized, but rather just written in the order it came to me. Notebooks and journals are fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But because you don’t have the option of moving the pages around, it can get rather frustrating when you go back and have to hunt something down.
For example, I had written something in particular and was pretty sure it was for the story I was putting together for the Author Quest. I searched and searched but couldn’t find it in my binder. Then I went through the notebook that I used last and found it. For another story that I am working on.
I will definitely keep my notebooks, as they’re great for jotting down ideas as they come to you. But moving forward, a binder is a must. You can divide it into sections which organizes you further. A section for character profiles, another for the story outline, and yet another for your list of names. You may want one specifically for research or perhaps mapping out the world you’re creating. For the Author Quest, I had 6 tabs in my binder which kept the approx 100 pages of notes that I had made over the span of my research (which seems to be ongoing).
I also learned the importance of having something to focus on while you wait for feedback. I was actually about to sit down and get serious about my next novel the very day that Brian Froud posted about the Author Quest. So that project was set aside. But I can assure you, it hasn’t been forgotten.
In fact, I have a new binder which is now organized and filled with paper (did you know you can get reinforced filler paper for your binder?!?). I also took some time to transcribe all my notes from my notebook and print some reference photos I found online (including a very snazzy title page), so it’s off to a fine start.
A really interesting character came to me two nights ago, so I spent part of yesterday and today doing a bit of research as well as trying to find a name that would fit. All of that is also now tucked into my binder. (squeal!)
So it seems I have found something that works for me. So tell me… what works for you? Is there anything that is such an intricate part of your process that you don’t think you could possibly write without it?