Do you know what it feels like to have a hundred things on your mind, and before you write them on paper to remember them, they are all lost? As an author, you know that the crucial thing you need to do when writing a book is to collect the plethora of ideas in your mind and put them into words. The more ideas you have, the bigger a clutter they form in your mind unless you can find a smart way to organize all your thoughts.
Luckily, in today’s digitized world, several tools and techniques can aid you in this regard. This article elaborates on some of the traditional and modern ways you can effectively catalog your thoughts while writing a book.
4 Hacks to Track and Organize Your Thoughts
1. Have a Broad Plot Outline
Impromptu ideas for your story invariably occur in your head, but you must always have a broad outline of your tale ready before you start writing. The story outline template or the plot structure should include an introduction or premise, the build-up of the plot, and the climax. At this stage, you need not know how many chapters you plan to have or where to end one and begin another, but you should gauge the approximate length of the entire story.
With this template ready, you have the freedom to improve or add layers to it, but the foundation stays the same.
2. Know All the Characters
Adding or removing new characters in your story can be a very messy business. It is best if you also have a “character master list” with all the characters, a brief description of who they are, and what role they have in the story.
You need not have a complete character sketch; that is something you develop along with your story. However, keeping track of the main characters’ activities and how they fit in the plot will let you control the story well.
3. How to Store Sudden Ideas
When your mind is entirely devoted to developing the story, you often get sudden ideas: while having coffee, or bathing, and especially when asleep. The best way to keep track of these thought bursts is by using post-it notes or small pocket notebooks you can carry with you at all times.
Having a book next to your bed is a good idea because dreams and thoughts that occur during sleep vanish quickly. If you feel a smartphone app will serve the purpose – like a memo or notepad – you can use it. However, you cannot stop by jotting down the thought(s) on a piece of paper; it is the next step that is more important.
4. Use a Customized Form or Spreadsheet
Technology is an incredible asset when it comes to storing data. Here is how you use tools as simple as Google forms or Excel spreadsheets to track your thoughts.
Once you are in front of a computer, copy your ideas more elaborately in a spreadsheet to keep it organized. You can have separate tabs or sheets for different chapters, characters, storylines, and so on. A customized form helps you achieve the same result but in a more interactive way.
The methods mentioned above are simple yet effective ways to arrange your thoughts and material while writing a story or novel. Nowadays, many writers employ book-writing software to help them in this process. Here are some ways in which the best book-writing software applications are useful to writers.
1. Templates and Formatting
Some book-writing applications come with ready-made templates for your story from which you can choose. These may not directly help you order your thoughts but will ensure you write them correctly in the final draft.
Another related feature is formatting: aligning the text, sectioning the pages, making the headings bold, and numbering the pages are a few of the formatting aspects that are automatically taken care of by the software. By correctly formatting your document, you will ensure all your elements and ideas go to the correct chapter and place without mixing them up.
2. Blocks All Distractions
You have your favorite song playing in the background, your Facebook and Twitter pages are open; you have an Amazon purchase pending, and, somewhere in the corner, you have your half-written novel open in a tab. This sort of messy environment will get you nowhere closer to finishing your book.
Book-writing applications can block any websites that distract you from writing. Typically, this means that the window is automatically made full-screen with only your novel/story open with no additional tabs or windows. You can also schedule writing sessions at a fixed time and duration every day using this software to put your full focus on the story.
3. Who Can Access the Document
Online access, sharing, and collaboration are useful for writers when they want to exchange ideas or get additional feedback or suggestions. Online editors let you access your document from any device with your login credentials.
Applications with features for comments or suggestions (the simplest example would be Google Docs) enable others – like your editor(s) – to give their inputs without modifying your actual draft. At the same time, you can also add your comments on the same document as a side note or a reminder, in case you get a new idea.
4. Tracking Changes
When you overwrite your document or make new changes, you often forget the old ones. What if you suddenly liked your second draft better than your fifth?
Writing applications that track and record all your changes in the background will allow you to find an old edit that you can restore easily quickly. You should also be able to trace all deleted comments and suggestions too.
Start Writing Better Today
With these methods, you can overcome the hurdles of getting your thoughts mixed up or worse, lost. Writing a book is a long process, and it is essential to have your thoughts appropriately compiled in one place so that you can develop those ideas further. These tools should quickly make you a better author than you would have been without them.