Sure, I created this mess. I get inspiration in weird places, from a combination of observing people and sightseeing – even in my hometown. So I find a scrap of paper and a writing instrument (usually I can only find a crayon in my purse, somehow pens go the way of sock mates) and write down my brilliant thought, shoving the paper in my pocket or bag. Sometimes I find them in time, sometimes I don’t. If I only used paper, I would probably retrieve them more diligently, and just throw all the scraps into one pile. That way, any time I need inspiration, I could reach in and grab one. But I also type notes on my phone and laptop, and in a notebook, and mark pages and notes in books… often, I need the god of randomness to guide my hand to just the right paper to help me move my story along. With a mess like this, how do I ever get a book finished? Well, the Lord Works in Mysterious Ways.
But, Hopping Horsefeathers, even I get sick of finding phrases I want to use, or notes about a vista or monument juxtaposed and often hidden by lists: GROCERY- vegetables and butter, CLEANERS- West Point Great Chain, VACUUM Captain Kidd’s Treasure hidden near Annsville Circle/Creek.
Guess What my solution is? Using an index card for each subject matter. 1850s NAMES (male on one side, female on the other – while noting which ones switched sides in the decades that followed —e.g. Whitney, Jocelyn, Edith) Fort Laramie/Horse Creek Treaty of 1850, Courthouse and Jailhouse Rocks, so drunk he couldn’t hit the ground in three throws.
Before those newly created cards got scattered around, I found an index card file box and adapted a stationery tray to file the cards alphabetically, so when I got to a section of my newest book Pioneer Passage where I needed to remember something about the Oregon Trail, or American History, I could find it readily. Now I don’t care how many coffee breaks the god of randomness takes. I have all my research organized and the final chapters of Book 3 are coming together.
Truth be told, I am feeling a little old fashioned. Should I not have all my notes typed on my computer, easily searchable? But then I recall that Joan Rivers used index cards to write down jokes she invented and filed them in her room full of index card file drawers by subject matter:
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I even made index cards cross referencing me to where on my computer or phone I filed other notes about any given topic. Simply divine!
I think it comes down to this: for the creative process – there is no judgment. Whatever system gets me inspired, keeps me engaged and gets me to finish the draft works! The bonus is this new system seems to have the capacity to also carry me through the fine tuning, the re-wording, editing and the final tweaking, ensuring I get my books published and into the marketplace. Not on deadline, of course (apparently my friends and my kids, independently, invented ‘jane time’ some unspecific time, not tooooo far off the mark, when I can be expected to arrive, or complete a story.) But completed nonetheless.
And that process is helping me love what I do.
© Jane F. Collen March 13, 2021 IndexCardCure.com™ organizing the creative process, one inspiration at a time