This is the age of computers and many of you might prefer to take and store you notes on the computer, but I’m not fond of this method. For some reason, when I’m working on the full manuscript of a book, I do just fine on the computer, but taking notes is different for me. I can’t seem to visualize my notes or get a handle on arranging them when they’re on the computer.
Here’s how I do it:
I usually use note cards and I put a category at the top of the card, then the topic and information on the card. Sometimes I may have the same category and topic on multiple cards. I may have a sentence or a paragraph on a card. By the time I finish researching a non-fiction book, I end up with 10 to 100 categories, depending on the overall topic of the book.
I love the cards…. You know why? Because I can spread them out on a table or on the floor and arrange them and rearrange them to my heart’s content until I get them in the order needed for the book.
Another version of this type of organizational device is to use notebook paper with a category/topic per piece of paper. Once arranged in the best order for the book outline, I put the pages in a three-ring binder and write the book from the binder.
Once I organize my notes and research along these lines, the book almost writes itself.
A long time ago, I had a computer program that consisted of note cards that could be shuffled on the monitor. If anyone knows of such a program, let me know. I would be interested in checking it out… although, I’m not sure I’ll ever give up my obsessions with the feel of the cards in my hands.