N … is for Notes

N[1] is for notes, notebooks, note taking, and note making. Some of us might prize our imagination, but how good is our … what is that thing … oh yes, our memory.

In my opinion, if you’re a writer it doesn’t matter how good your memory is; you should be taking and making notes.

Is there a difference between taking notes and making notes?

Yes, and I’ll clarify it as best I can before moving on. I know how it might be a distraction when reading this post, and you won’t want to be distracted from reading such an important article. LOL

Taking notes is the way we describe the activity of recording information at a lesson, or seminar; as I did when attending the ‘Self-Publishing Conference’ recently. I have several pages of notes, with headings, sub-headings and bullet points from all four seminars I attended.

Making notes is how I would refer to my everyday activities with my notebook and pen at work, or when out and about with my trusty Moleskine 

If making notes and referring to a publication of any description it is imperative to use quotation marks when extracting a specific phrase.

It doesn’t matter what the book or magazine might be, it’s always advisable to use the simple addition of quotation marks if you have any intention of using it at a later date. If you later use the quote, give credit to the original author and avoid accusations of plagiarism.

There are several trains of thought on this topic, so rather than explore all of them here, I will once again write about what I know; my own methods.

Since stepping down from my management role over a year ago, I still carry a notebook when in my retail assistant role. It’s not a requirement, but I’ve carried one for years. The difference now is, that instead of being for work, it is mainly for when an idea comes to mind.

I only work three days a week in retail, so whenever I’m out and about on the other days, I carry a pocket-sized Moleskine notebook. I might find myself making a note of a person’s description, a phrase I’ve overheard, or the description of a location I’m in.

My favourite notes are those made when I’m enjoying a tea or coffee while out. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a break from a shopping trip, or I’m on holiday; my notebook is used often. Sometimes I might write down title ideas for a short story I’m working on, or possible character names. A favourite habit is to write a passage for my current project.

Somehow, sitting in a restaurant, or small café lends itself to writing a scene, or a few lines of dialogue. In the last two years the habit has served me well. When other couples or individuals sit with their coffee in front of them, they pull out their phone to check emails, or social networks. I pull out my Moleskine and write for a while.

I might be with my wife on a day out, or even on my own, but I’m comfortable with the idea in either case. My wife isn’t bothered, because she is one of the smartphone brigade. As soon as the coffee cups are on the table; she’s surfing for the Wi-Fi signal. My notebook and pen come out; and for a while we get on with our own thing.

I’ve never got into the habit of the notebook on the bedside table, probably because I wouldn’t stop at a few words.

How do you deal with the idea of notes?

Please feel free to share in your comment. You know you want to …

I’ve got a blog patrol to be getting on with, and then I’ll be working on my ‘O’ post for tomorrow.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing your views.


11 thoughts on “N … is for Notes

  1. This has always been my weakness – well, one of them, anyway. I have always relied on my memory, and it has always been reliable enough. I find though, as I get older, that it isn’t what it used to be. I have notebooks, but am not in the habit of using them. Sounds like a job for a dose of self-discipline.


    1. Thank you for stopping by Keith. Yes, it takes discipline, and it comes in two parts; remember to carry a notebook, then remember to use it! If you can get into the notebook habit, it will pay you dividends.


  2. I have been thinking lately I need to go back to having a designated Idea Journal notebook… like you write here, a small one to slip into my purse to be pulled out to write small snippets as I’m going about my day. I like the moleskines that are smallish and have the elastic around them. Perhaps I will make that a task for my day today… its a sort of slow day for me, a quiet one…. grading college student’s papers for much of it which ALWAYS needs some sort of reward at the end of a long slogging grading process where all the notes I jot start to sound the same. 🙂

    Enjoyed this post – my first visit here and I’m glad I popped in!

    Julie Jordan Scott
    The Bold Writer from A to Z


    1. Hello Julie and thank you for dropping in. I’ll be returning the favour on my blog patrol very shortly. My notebook has been responsible for so many scenes it’s unbelievable. While having a coffee in a café one day last week I wrote a scene that had been playing in my head for days. It is now an integral part of my current thriller (Amsterdam Calling).
      By the time I finish the next draft I might give that same scene a tidy, but if it wasn’t for carrying my notebook, I wouldn’t have got it down on hard copy. Get yourself that Moleskine now; you deserve it.


  3. I often forget good ideas I’ve had and I’ve tried the notebook trick but then I forget to carry it with me. I’m going to be bringing it back out because, as a fellow warrior in the retail wars, so much of my day is spent away from my computer. I just need to get in the habit of grabbing it each day.


    1. Hi Frank. Thank you for dropping in. One of the things I like about having my notebook at work is, I could be writing anything in it and nobody is any the wiser – as long as I don’t get carried away.
      The habit of lifting it is easy. You’ll have a wallet, a watch, and probably a phone – make the notebook part of that group.


  4. I have notebooks everywhere, but especially in my purse. It’s almost a certainty that when I step away from the writing the answer to a plot twist or a new idea pops up and a notebook is vital. Although the one place I get the best ideas but doesn’t accommodate a notebook is the shower! I never rely on my memory – it’s let me down to often! LOL

    Thanks for your comment on N is for Needle – I almost added a personal note about the time I was given a shot and almost died, but kept that to myself. Needles deliver death in various forms and an allergy to iodine can be a killer!


    1. Hi Yolanda. Thank you for the visit, the comment, and the smile it brought (re: shower).
      Your own posts in the challenge are excellent, and the only thing that leaves a bad feeling, is the fact that you’ve been able to locate some unsettling true cases. There are awful people in the world and as you’ve demonstrated – life and death can be stranger than fiction.


  5. Julia Lund

    I can’t walk through a stationary department without feeling the need to peruse the notebooks: I have dozens! My preference is for unlined, and I am a particular fan of the floppy-backed Moleskine. My notebooks look like my desk and my art space – a disjointed, chaotic jumble . But that is only to the untrained eye! When I sit down to write, I go through all my notebooks (those that live beside my bed, those that live on my desk, those that live in various handbags, those that turn up in the most unusual of places) and scraps of paper (I’ve even been known jot down ideas on paper serviettes and till receipts) and go through them with a highlighter, transferring the jumble into a stream of consciousness on the computer. Without my notes, my imagination would never produce anything other than a cacophony of half forgotten ideas. I’m with you; however we write, notes are key.


    1. Thank you for this Julia, it brought a smile. I have a pile of notebooks, and they don’t get thrown out until I’ve gone page by page, and copied the stuff I want into a file of ideas. When I use my Moleskine, I tend to write ‘proper’ passages on the right hand pages, and any minor bits and pieces on the left.


      1. Julia Lund

        You sound so organised! I’m afraid that I never throw out any of my old notebooks, nor my diaries, which are also stuffed with scribbled notes amongst the appointments and odd shopping list .. 😀


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