Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Joys of Being a Note-Taker Extraordinaire

by Joanne Rock

Call it an organized Virgo thing. Call it a writerly fixation or outright nerdiness. But I am, and always have been, a meticulous keeper of words.

It started innocently enough. As an overambitious pre-teen, I spent long days at the library, writing notes from important looking books because I was studying the things I already felt were missing in my education—Greek mythology, ancient geography, the history of the overlapping Biblical stories. I brought home manila folders filled with charts that compared the Greek/Roman pantheon and timelines that chronicled the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. I kept these notes for years. Possibly, they still live in a box somewhere.
Just the kind of thing I copied down in my notes.

I must have enjoyed looking over those notes. You can see that I remember them well enough, and the fact that I wanted to review them often must have taught my young brain the value of keeping my notes organized in a way I could reference.

In college, I was blown away by the college professor who told me I should be writing notes in my textbooks—an idea that horrified me at first. Yet when she pointed to her own college text books (that she still used for teaching) with all her own marginal notes on the poems we were discussing, I was curious to try. How cool would it be to have my notes transplanted on to the texts themselves so I could enjoy a deeper reading of a story anytime I wanted? I was quickly converted.

No one said I was neat about these notes...Possibly I'm the only
one who can decipher them.
These days, my notes are less scholarly and more generic. I keep track of the foods I serve at the parties I host and file them in my cookbook so I can see my past party plans for summer picnics and winter dinners. Usually, I use them as inspiration for upcoming events—pulling a recipe from one and adding something new. But if I’m in a rush, I can pull out old party notes (complete with shopping lists) and recreate it in a day. Voila!

Sometimes, this turns into a bit of a sickness. My computer crashed a few years ago and I still mourn the loss of notes I’ll never retrieve—pages of useful information taken from writing workshops or story ideas I started to develop for possible future books. I try to myself it’s not a big deal, yet every now and then, I do a search for an old file before I realize it was lost in the Great Crash of 2013.

Still, sickness or no, my obsession is a fun party trick I use to impress friends and wow colleagues. My writer cohorts are amazed when they’ve forgotten one of their own ideas and I can search up an old email (that part of my files didn’t crash—hooray for online storage!) from five years ago with a conversation we had about the idea. Recently, I dazzled a new group of associates from a volunteer organization when I was able to resurrect details from a two-year-old project. I admit, this makes me stand taller. A little pat on the back goes a long way with me.


My Heartache, TN series required
lots of note-taking!
Many people I’ve met, young and old, have a strong response to writing-- love it or hate it. Me, I can’t get enough of it. It’s a wonderful tool for my day to day life in addition to the creative ways I use it for storytelling. And don’t get me started on letter writing, or we’ll be here all day. What about you? Do you enjoy keeping personal accounts and records? Making notes to remember important things in your life, like which plants you planted when/where in your garden? Share with me today how you use writing (or if you are completely averse to it!) and I’ll give one random poster their choice of books from my 20115-2016 backlist, including my current Harlequin Superromance, Whispers Under a Southern Sky.

43 comments:

Mary Preston said...

I'm not one for keeping notes. The important stuff I can usually recall without it.

The exception would be with my knitting. I tend to modify patterns and take notes for future use.

Tammy Y said...

I used to be able to remember everything, now I keep notes. I am a plaaner

Jo McNally said...

I love the concept of taking notes, but I don't execute it very well. I jot things on little bits of paper, then forget where I put them! My iPhone has helped - I type lots of thoughts in the Notes app, and that way they don't get lost. :)

Colleen C. said...

I am a note taker... mostly for reminders... it would horrify me to mark up a book... I do not even like to bend a page!

Laney4 said...

I use binder pages, one day per page usually (unless extremely busy and then I continue onto the next page). I keep track of times when things occurred, esp. because I include my business appointments, but also to give me an idea of how long a project takes, who visited, etc. I then write the highlights of those daily events on a monthly planner calendar in the large square provided so that when I want to look back for something, I will find the occasion written on the daily planner, but I'll then go to the daily notes to find all the detail.

As for recipes, I type up mine in a consistent format in Word (saving as I go externally as well), handwriting notes of clarification/detail later, if needed. Once in awhile I'll go back and add those notes onto the Word file and print that page again for my recipe binders. I appreciate how I can type in an ingredient on Word and use the Search feature to find all the recipes I've typed that include that ingredient. I have an Alphabetical Index for all recipes in their categories, as well as a Temperature Index printed, whereby I have all my recipes in order of what temperatures are required - as I try to always have a full oven, meaning that while the meat is cooking at 350F, I might as well cook scalloped potatoes and a dessert at the same time/temperature.

dstoutholcomb said...

we are kindred spirits. not only do I take notes, I have a bit of an eidetic memory--freaks people out the minutiae I can remember.

Laurie I said...

Yes, I take notes all the time. Unfortunately I have them in random places because I grab whatever's close when I need to jot something down. I have notes on pads, in notebooks, in folders, on my phone. I really need to take time to organize them. I even take notes while reading a book so I can remember certain points later when crafting a review.

bn100 said...

not really

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Fedora said...

I have started taking notes on my phone--it's convenient, but I miss the whole notebook and pen thing, too!

Kathleen O said...

I kerp notes for appointments or phone conversations that I need to recall information. I always keep notepads by my phone. Yes I still have a land line on my desk.

melissa McEntyre said...

yes I still keep notes but now sometimes they are in a PC folder

Anonymous said...

My notes were mess for I have dyslexia and so it was chicken scratch until I would rewrite them, I had a friend who wanted my notes and he looked at them and said what is all this, then I rewrote them on note cards and that's how I would study for a test! I still take notes since I'm in college and I was taught in high school how to take good notes! Some of the kids I'm in c lass with who have I've shared notes with are very impressed for I'm older than they and some were never taught how to take good notes! I'm so glad that I remember so many things from high school! fiorecarole1954@yahoo.com

Manda Ward said...

I've been keeping a diary and noting something positive that has happened that day. It has poems in and one was written by my mother in law.
mrsajward@hotmail.com

Manda Ward said...

I've been keeping a diary and noting something positive that has happened that day. It has poems in and one was written by my mother in law.
mrsajward@hotmail.com

Diana Tidlund said...

of course I do... but honestly before the strokes it was a lot more often

Christy Ray said...

I know for me I use writing all the time. Since I got in the habbit of writing for long lenths of time I have been able to write long college reports with no problem at all. I also take notes and write down all the things I need for school or homework assignments. I've also loved journal keeping. I write about my personal life and I also keep a journal for mu book ideas. After completing a novel it is always fun to look back snd see what inspired my writing scenes.

Shelly K said...

I write notes all the time. I don't want to forget things. Love your books!

Lola R said...

I am a Virgo too, so I guess that explains why I am so organized ;). I am a note taker as well, during classes I always made notes, I make lists for grocery shopping and always have a few papers with notes on my desk and I make notes on recipes that I print out and write adjustments down. Nowadays I do a lot of my organizing online as well with the help of my calendar.
I never got the writing in books, but I can sort of see the appeal. I did use a pencil to underline main points in textbooks. And it must be a wonderful feeling when one of your notes comes in handy like that. It might make us a bit obsessive at times, but taking notes definitely can be valuable as well.
Thanks for the interesting post! I had fun reading it. And I really hope I can catch up on your Heartache series son, I miss visiting that town and it's inhabitants.

Anonymous said...

I must keep notes or I lose track! Besides...I find notes help in consistency of thought process when working through things.

Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com

Patricia P. said...

The only notes I make are grocery lists. Then leave them on the table at home.I'm retires so I don't have much need for note taking. And the recipes I find online are saved to Pinterest. choirlady27@hotmail.com

Julie Ford said...

I take notes all the time because if I don't I always feel like I left something out.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, my "adopted" sister, and I are very unorganized. That's what we love about each other. The only notes I keep is Doug's appointment's on the calendar. He has to be seen quite often. Then there's the Schwan home delivery company that come every other week. They give me a sticker for the next visit and it goes right on the calendar! I try to make out grocery list of what I want but that tends to get left at home right where I left it. I do have these tiny notebooks that I write into. I'm always putting down notes having to do with the computer, email addresses, phone number's, titles to songs I've heard or the name of the singer/ groups, and when I add pictures into facebook I have to write down the number of each picture to keep track of. As for recipes? None! I remember only one in my head and that's the banana bread I make. One time I forgot an ingredient. I just knew I forgot something. I raced to Google and discovered I forgot the butter!!!! It still turned out even tho it was almost 5 minutes later. Pam Hamblin

Britney Vasquez said...

I'm definitely a note taker. I write things down to remember stuff. And I also like to write in a journal, memories and experiences.

Britney Vasquez said...

I'm definitely a note taker. I write things down to remember stuff. And I also like to write in a journal, memories and experiences.

riet_media said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
penney said...

I always keeps papers and taking notes etc if I don't then hubby would lose everything! LOL!
Penney

riet_media said...

I usually don't make notes. I try to keep them in my head. Let's face it and be honest: I'm a scatterbrain and unorganized. (And I used to be a librarian, hah). Sometimes I make notes, but then again I forget to look at them. Or I make a shoppinglist and leave the list at home, that happened quite a lot before I met my husband and he (although not very organized) tries to get me a bit organized, which is not working very well. The strange thing is, my sister, she's an artist, is extremely organized - maybe she should have been a librarian. (In my work as a librarian I was extremely good in predicting what people liked to read).

Lori King said...

I don't care for writing, but love
reading it in all the stories you and
other great Authors put out there for
us.
Thank You

vmaisie said...

Oh do I save notes..... I will write things on post it notes and save them forever... and I'm not talking shopping list....or reminders.... im talking about seeing a quote somewhere and loving it, so I write it on a post it note to save forever... or thoughts in my own head I want to remember...
I have spiral notebooks I write stuff in... a line from a book.... a saying..... a thought.....
I have now taken to the little top flip pocket size spiral notebooks... I always have one by my place on the couch....
I save all these notes...... forever.....
And then there's my poetry.... I will grab one of my spiral notebooks.... start writing the poem that's flooding my brain.... and scratch through this or that .....or.... start over completely...
Sometimes the poem will turn out to be nothing like what I intended to write at all....
And I save every little bit of that process.... all the pages with scribbles through the lines... some pages may have only one of two good lines of the poem, and the rest is scribbled out lines... but I keep it all... the whole process ... as it tumbles out of my brain....
And..... it's all on paper.... never on computer or laptop... and then I will make several copies of the finished work....
And then..... rarely does anyone see it.... just me..... and sometimes someone else... but that's rare! I love my poems most of all...

Sherry Bohrmueller said...

I make notes when I am crocheting so I don't forget where I am.

Debi Ann said...

I, too, am a compulsive note-taker -- I take notes on everything I read -- especially when I am deeply affected by what I read. I take notes when I'm reading cereal boxes -- really! In all seriousness, taking notes cements words and ideas in my brain, even if I lose the original paper I wrote the notes on. So, yes, I am also a lifetime member of the "Nerdy Note-taker Club" -- and darn proud of it!!!

Linda May said...

As I get older I realize how important it is to take notes otherwise you will forget. I also realize how important it is to take down notes, for instance if you are going to the doctor & you have questions to ask him you better write them down, because what will happen is you see him after waiting for a long time to get an appt. & you will definitely leave the office & forget something really important to ask him about. Thanks for this generous chance. lindamay4852@yahoo.com

Johanna Mallozzi Owen said...

Hi sounds like you had s fun retreat. Would love to win a book. Thank you for the chance.
Johanna Owen
Nycolabear@aol.com

WK said...

Hello I write notes on anything except books. Never books.

LynnB said...

I've always been one to jot down important stuff that I need to be sure I remember. :)

Anonymous said...

I have to write everything down. If anyone wants anything special at the store, they'd better write it on my list!

Charlene
Charlene. Fralet@yahoo.com

Ninfa Torres said...

I always write notes eversince, I have a shorty term memory as my siblings put it hence the notes and papers everywhere in the house and no one touches my bags and notebooks and books for there is always a little note. Some groceries and some are thoughts but most importantly recipe I love to make and eat desserts so I have a folder and notebook for it.

Trudy said...

I no longer write by hand very much as it's too difficult for me. I never was a list maker unless it was very, very important. You will often find myself purse filled with various empty bottles and boxes so I remember to buy the item again though! At one time I toyed with the idea of trying to become a writer until I became acquainted with a lot of you authors who work extremely hard at your craft! Still, it remains an option of sorts for me since I am unable to work but need additional income.

Lyn M said...

I mainly use writing to make notes and to-do lists as I find the combination of my day job making me more mentally exhausted than I'd like and long term pain meds (for chronic pain from a 20something-year-old injury) require me to make notes/to-do lists to remember things.
The other use is making notes of my current story ideas - I just need to spend more time actually converting them to stories!

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

Most of my memory is via my husband..... I do keep a small notebook for leaving notes...and now that I'm retired and have enough office supplies, especially since I have cleaned out my mom's house. We used to give office supplies to her for Christmas stocking stuffers. I could stock a small office supply store. I must say that since I don't take down phone messages at work, my handwriting is crap!!

jnalpath said...

I have a notebook that I keep in my bag for all my notes for reminders, things to do, and other important miscellaneous stuff. Zeta(at)iwon(dot)com

Veronique Boudreau said...

I have notebook, calendar appointment book and yikes a budget receipt book!

Joanne Rock said...

Many apologies for not posting a winner name earlier... my first winner has not replied, so I went back to the pool and have contacted Mary Preston! Mary, you're my winner for the backlist book plus a copy of Whispers Under a Southern Sky! If you haven't gotten my email yet, feel free to contact me directly at jrock008@gmail.com with a mailing addy and preferred title!

Thank you all so much for the visit!!

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