The curse of writer notes #amwriting #writerproblems #writing

Story notes, every writer has them!

Now there is nothing wrong with a writer taking notes. They are very useful, essential even, but if you are anything like me you acquire vast quantities of such notes and you never, ever, throw them away.

The Mobile Phone 

I love my mobile phone. I’ve got an iPhone which comes with this handy ‘Note’ app. I fill my phone notes app up with obscure commentary, scene ideas, and reminders to fix things. I do this at random times of the day and night. Typing on a phone is not always easy, you can hit the wrong key and autocorrect leaps in. Perhaps you are time pressured and you don’t have time to check the gibberish you just wrote. Or perhaps like me you are not wearing your glasses and it’s all a bit blurred so you hope for the best.

Later, when you come back to it, it could be:

  • A perfect note that makes complete sense
  • A bit random but can be deciphered with the aid of an encryption specialist
  • Utterly uncrackable

Note Pads and scraps of paper

There is something very enticing about writing on physical paper. Yes you have all these whizzy electronic options, but sometimes the paper is there and it just feels better to jot it down.

This has the same issues as the above mobile notes app, but with the added bonus of a random location.

Later you could find important story notes:

  • In 1 of your 27 notepads
  • In the car
  • In the office
  • In random other rooms of the house
  • In your bag
  • Photographed onto your phone!

Electronic Notes

It’s not just the notes app on your phone that can house these random notes. There are a whole heap of electronic note saving options that you can get to from your phone, electronic pad, and computer.

Later you might find your notes on:

  • Word documents on the computer
  • On Evernote
  • On your dropbox folder
  • On your airdrop folder
  • In Scrivener
  • In other writing applications
  • On a gazillion other shared applications that may or may not sync with each other.


There is only one thing better than taking notes and that is…drum roll please…you guessed it…making backups of your notes!

While trying to write my book blurb I managed to accumulate 17 versions scattered about my computer, airdrop, and dropbox folders, and that was without the scribbled ideas for it on bits of paper! I had made so many duplicates I had no idea which one was the most current. I couldn’t even trust the last edited date because I had gone back and opened them all!

Then there are the photo’s of notes…

The saving as v2, v3, version new, version latest, version xyz…

And lastly but not leastly, copying the same file to multiple locations!


Love them or loath them, no writer can call themselves a writer unless they have an avalanche of notes accumulated over years and a myriad of mediums and devices.

Culling the notes!

Every now and then we have a bit of a note cull. We seek desperately to identify the ones we can throw away. This is a painful and laborious process. Simply placing a note into the ‘possible deletion’ category will be quite stressful!

Having gone through this exercise, approximately 99% of the ‘possible deletion’ will be recategorised as ‘keep’.

And finally, you decide to delete / throw away the 1% you were confident about…tomorrow!

35 thoughts on “The curse of writer notes #amwriting #writerproblems #writing

      1. I was about to say, “Oh yeah.” But that’s not quite right. We’re makers, and makers need raw materials. We can abandon our hoard, but we’ll have to start a new one.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I was SO hoping for that eureka moment of your telling us you had found the optimal solution to this problem. Alas, not so. Still, here’s my sometimes practiced option–clear up the paper by putting the notes in (hopefully) sensible folders like–“phrases,” “character sketches,” “writing topics,” etc. It works up to a point. Or for actual WIP, putting the stuff into Scrivener (assuming I’ve gone so far along the organizational continuum—hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yeah! Happy to see I’m not the only one with digital notes everywhere. You can’t let a good idea go to waste, you never know when one of those notes could serve a real purpose. 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  3. After experiencing the acute distress that follows forgetting the world’s greatest idea, writers scribble down any fleeting thought that comes along. And they can’t be thrown out or deleted, because they might come in handy. Idea hoarding.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s nice to see that somebody else uses the same well-honed, systematic approach(es) that I do! (The first time I tried to type “systematic” up there my phone decided on “surrealistic” instead — and I was tempted to keep it. 🙂 )

    I don’t use all the same methods that you do (it hadn’t occurred to me before to take photographs of my handwritten notes…), but I get a lot of ideas (well, some) when walking, and rather than try to phone-type and walk at the same time (activities which, at my time of life, require different eyeglasses), I use an app called Indigo to talk to my phone and make a note for later. Which has about the same level of accuracy/obscurity that you identify for phone typing, but less possibility of walking into somebody or falling into an open manhole. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve become terribly organised. Every project has a notes file. I also keep an ideas list and random notes for things that might go into any story but haven’t been ‘assigned’ yet. Years ago I gathered up all those bits of paper and copied them into Word files, suitably backed up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have a huge problem with notes scattered everywhere. Recently I’ve stuck (mostly) with one notebook, my phone, and Word docs but I have an endless amount of notes throughout my house and my computer from before I started trying to keep them in one place. By my senior year of college my class notes were more story notes in the margins than lecture notes, so I can’t even throw those out!

    Liked by 1 person

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