Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do you write yourself notes? Ephemera from my brain.

Being a pantser rather than a plotter, I often write myself handy little notes for things I intend to follow up, and then don’t. This means that whenever I have a clean up (read: “unexpected house guests”) I tend to find these little notes scattered all around the place. In my cutlery drawer, in my bathroom cupboard, and they seem to breed in the bowl on top of the fridge. In fact, the only place you can be guaranteed not to find them is my study.

Anyway, some of these little notes date back a long time. Some of them were once vitally important, but it was so long ago that I can’t remember what vague idea they were attached to. And some of them, I’m fairly certain, were written by ninjas who sneak into my house at night just to confuse me. Or maybe the possums.

Here are a few orphaned notes of unknown origin:

What are ivory nuts? Look this up.

Ocean names. Morwenna - Solwata - yay!

She is the queen who marries the enemy and saves her people - could work!

What if the journalist is the narrator?

“You built me up again. What for?”

A ship. Really? Fix this.

What is wrong with Third Person? Juxtapose with Field Manual stuff.

The Renoir is a fraud. Or maybe you need those freaky apocalyptic paintings..?

It almost horribly backfires.

And it turns out my internal editor is a bit snarky: 

One day I intend to collect all these little notes and write the weirdest short story known to mankind. Until then, I need a decent filing system. Or, you know, any sort of filing system.

Also, am I the only person who leaves notes to themselves in Second Person? 


  1. I do, all the time. My desk is covered with post-its to suppliment my notepads of various sizes on which I leave myself messages, make lists, scold myself, etc.

  2. I used to have all these notes but losing them or remembering I had come up with an idea but not what it was drove me crazy enough to enforce some discipline. Now I rush to get the notes transferred to a dedicated notes file on my pc.

    Most of my notes are written in passive voice with words missing (Find example of white bear NOT polar), so just like my regular writing.

    Chapter One Analysis: The Hunger Games

  3. Great notes. They should definitely be in an art exhibit, right next to those freaky apocalyptic paintings.

    I wasn't sure if I did go Second Person on myself, so I searched some notes for "you," and found this:

    So stiff in the voice there. Get to what your high school self would write if you gave him the chance. Tell him, "I’ll take care of the editing. You just provide the attitude."

    So I'm telling my Second Person self to refer to himself in First Person when talking to my teenage Third Person self. I think.

  4. Haha love these. I have tons of notes like this but they're all on a document on my computer called Shiny New Ideas or in a notebook I carry around with me.

  5. I have notebooks for all that sort of thing. Some pages are full of research notes, some pages are lists of ideas, some pages are semi-incoherent rambling. It works for me.

  6. Are you kidding? I've got yellow stickies plastered all over, random receipts and scraps in my purse and jotted with crayon, and I don't know what half of it means. My only hope is that in the writing of these bursts of inspiration, something was locked away in my subconscious and will somewhere make it in my writing. My daughter, who is a voracious reader at six, marvels at these encrypted messages. I'm going to need to start a file, I think.

  7. Hahaha. Yes, I do this too. I'll write on anything handy when an idea hits. And then I will pick up a book a year later -- most often a research book -- and find the notes stashed in the pages. Not doing much good in there are they?

    I always figure if the idea is good enough it will survive being written down on a scrap of paper. :)

  8. I do sort of have this running conversation in my plot notes. Most of the notes are phrased in the form of a question (NO Jeopardy music please!). Then a few sentences down I'll write something like, "No, he could only do that if he already knew about such-n-such, but his sister never tells him that."

    Good thing I bullet my notes for later quick-reference.

    (Yes, I'm a plotter. Only a plotter would bullet point their developmental notes. Geek embarrassment!)

  9. "The Renoir is a fraud. " had me laughing because at first I thought this meant the person not a work by the artist.

    My entire to do list is always in the second person and often with a dash of snark. Between three whiteboards, sticky notes (kind of like post-it-notes they reside on my desktop), lists on my ipod I've gotten away from scraps of paper finally. Amazing how not having to look for that blue piece of paper I wrote at noon on last Wednesday I've suddenly become more organized.

  10. I do this all the time, with to-do lists as well as with random ideas. I used to do it on about anything I had in hand (receipts, among other things). Thankfully, a friend gave me a tiny tiny notebook with "Very Good Ideas" written on it. I use that, now. :)

  11. I do this all the time. I think mine are in a folder somewhere or stuffed in a drawer. I have a notepad where I usually jot down my ideas, or if I'm at work, sticky notes.
    My step mother got me the most amazing thing for Christmas--a waterproof notepad for the shower. Now I don't have to run through the house naked and dripping wet every time I get an idea.

  12. Hi, SB! I'm glad I'm not the only one who scolds themselves in note form!

    And Mood, now I desperately need to know why you need a non-white non-Polar bear!

  13. Mood, of course I mean a white non-polar bear! Because non-white non-polar bears would just be normal bears, right? I blame sleep deprivation...

  14. Steve, I have read your note a few times, and I am more confused than when I began! It's nice to know I'm not the only person who writes to themselves in Second Person though!

    Girl Friday and Sarah -- a notebook? Why the hell didn't I think of that?

  15. Hi Rebecca, thanks for following! I forgot about receipts...I have a gazillion of those shoved in the bottom of my handbag with notes all over them. I also have faith that one day they will transform into something coherent!

  16. Margo, you should never be ashamed of being a plotter -- I am insanely jealous of plotters. I haven't even got the mental focus to write down the plot, let alone the entire novel. This is why I have a filing cabinet full of WIPs that I neglected when a brand new shiny idea came along. Because I'm disorganised, easily distracted, and...oh, look, a bunny!

  17. LG, that's what I figure as well. I'm sure a lot of my notes were useful and important when I wrote them...if only I could remember what they were about!

    Hi, Steph! Yes, I need to embrace technology and stop killing trees.

    @ Claudie, I did actually try the notebook thing once. Then I just ended up with notebooks stashed all around the house instead of bits of paper.

    Hi, Cookie! If I had a waterproof notebook I'd probably never leave the shower. I think, like writing in my pyjamas, it would become too comfortable!

  18. I don't write myself notes. I do send myself random emails that don't make sense that I never open again because I hate seeing unopened email so I just mark it as read right away and forget about it.

    But I love this note: "A ship. Really? Fix this."

    Like, I can even hear the head shaking and and pointed look you're giving yourself in these words.

  19. Hi Sommer! Yep, my internal editor is all about the snark!

    Damn, you're funny. I love the Goblin's Market and all your snarky notes. Everywhere but in the den, of course.

  21. Jen, They are awesome. Maybe that's why I take ridiculously long showers.

    Sommer, I totally do that too! I have a bunch of random e-mail with a bunch of random notes, like for instance the name of the hotel I would stay at in France for when I go there. Not that I can afford to go or anything....

  22. Jen, I leave post it notes for myself EVERYWHERE. And in my printed draft, it's worse. I leave notes in the 2nd person all the time. "What are you thinking, here?"

    And Margo, no worries. I'm a plotter and I have a quasi-organized if/then section of my notebook for what has to happen/be revealed before the next thing. My notes often time make more sense then my story!

  23. Thanks Misty!

    TL, I'm the same with printed drafts. "This doesn't work". Or sometimes I'm brutally honest: "This is crap. Rewrite this."

  24. You make me laugh. I love your blog, and thanks for linking onto mine! I especially loved your posts about things you learned in Rome.

  25. Teralyn, Blogger ate your comments! But thanks for them!



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