Earlier this week I talked about setting up a writer’s notebook to being capturing small moments of life for future writing.
And while I’m a huge advocate of the literal pen and paper method of collecting ideas, I know we’re moving towards a paperless world. And if you’re looking to declutter, or your handwriting is chicken scratch, or you always have a great idea but are never near your writer’s notebook… well, then, that’s not very effective is it?
And mamas, you and I both know, if you’re going to EVER get that birth story written, ever capture the cute phrases your toddler throws out right and left like a stand up comedian… you need to find what works for YOU when it comes to your writing!
The benefits of a digital writer’s notebook
So I’ve been thinking about how to set up a digital writer’s notebook.What would be the benefits and drawbacks? I used my new Intel 2 in 1 laptop / tablet to create my own version of a digital writer’s notebook and discovered there is at least one aspect I love about it that functions better than pen and paper! (keep reading).
Benefits of a Digital Writer’s Notebook
- Neater than my handwriting!
- Faster – I type faster than I write by hand
- Cut and paste to reorganize thoughts
- Virtually endless storage
- Apps and programs can transfer across devices
- Share with others if collaborating
- Cut and paste pieces of an idea to begin a rough draft elsewhere
- Search / Find feature means you’ll probably never lose track of an idea
- Insert images for writing prompts
- Ability to use your handwriting if you’re using a touch screen tablet (um, like my new ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi that can convert from a tablet, to a laptop, and back. In 1 second flat! Just saying!)
Drawbacks of a Digital Writer’s Notebook
- Less personal because it’s not in your own handwriting
- Easy to delete things (when you didn’t want to!) or lose files
- When you delete your writing, it’s hard to see the writing process at work
- Relies on charge/power and possibly Internet connection – without those you are sunk! (Although… my Intel has battery enough to last through 8 hours of streaming movies so I think I am good for a little note booking!)
- If it’s not handy, there’s little you can do to collect an idea… except go back to pen and paper
So you can see there are some caveats to a digital writer’s notebook, however, most of them can be circumvented. Overall, if you’re more comfortable going digital, then I say whatever helps you get your ideas out of your head and onto paper – even if it is virtual paper!
How to set up a digital writer’s notebook
One of the cool things about my new Intel 2 in 1 device is it came pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 and some cool software. Like Microsoft One Note.
You could use Word, Pages, Evernote, Google Drive, or any other word processing program. But there’s one aspect of Microsoft One Note that I think makes it ideal for keeping a writer’s notebook. Namely, it functions like a notebook with the ability to create separate pages, sections, and even other notebook, and link between them all. That could be a real perk for a writer!
No matter what app or software you choose, I would go about the process much the same way as the paper version – set up the following sections:
- Index (optional if you use Evernote or OneNote as they create sections with their various notes and pages). You could use a pagination tool to create a digital index that will adjust when you insert pages – don’t ask me how I just know there are those capabilities on some programs!
- Decorations – just like we decorated the outside of the paper notebook, find a space where you can collect visuals that inspire you. You might create a slideshow, or a folder of images, or even a secret Pinterest board. Sometimes when we’re stuck as writers, a visual prompt gets our writing juices flowing again
- Sections for various types of writing – timelines, lists, free writing, etc. (these tutorials will come later!)
My favorite feature of a digital writer’s notebook is…
One of my favorite writing prompts, and one I return to often, is creating timelines – lists of events in order. I find the more I work on my timelines, the more I remember, and stories often grow from there.
On paper, it gets messy trying to squeeze more details into a full timeline page. Digitally? WOW – Create macro and micro timelines (years, months, days, hours). Grow sections of your timeline without interfering with previous entries. Format using bold, italics, and bullets! For someone like me who really likes to organize thoughts before writing, this is an amazing benefit of the digital notebook!
If you’re deciding between a traditional notebook or a digital one, it’s easy to take your digital notebook everywhere just like a paper notebook (which is still fairly a recent phenomena!). I take my Intel with me nearly everywhere – at half the weight of a regular laptop (or just go with the tablet portion), it’s easy to tuck into a bag or purse!
So tell me… are you going to go with a traditional writer’s notebook… or a spiffy digital writer’s notebook!?
Leave a comment about which you choose and why!
Take some time this weekend to set up your writer’s notebook because next week, we begin to collect our ideas!!
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