Friday, March 11, 2011

Tools for Writers | How to organize notes from your 'napkin moments'

Are you looking for ways to organize your writing projects? Does your creative write right brain strike at all hours of the day and night. Do you have sticky notes, scraps of yellow pads and pages ripped from spirals produced from what I call 'napkin moments'.

Writing is a messy business. Ideas often come when you're not sitting conveniently at your computer. You could be on your way to the dentist when you suddenly discover your Antagonist's mother was a gypsy. Or you're making spaghetti and you realize your Protagonist, unbeknownst to you, has befriended someone most people would consider a scoundrel. You must write these things on the closest piece of paper available or take the risk of having them float forever off into the aethers.

So I was cleaning up all those paper bits of flotsam and jetsam, trying to figure out what to salvage and how in the world I could avoid the time-sucking job of entering them on my computer. TaDa! A brilliant flash of light appeared, proving that my right and left brain occasionally cooperate.

The answer? Clear poly folders. They're wonderfully low tech and the method involves absolutely no organizational skills, other than deciding what color tab to use for which project. I've been using these in my non-writing life, so I don't know why I hadn't thought to use them like this. It was one of those, I hate to say it, 'duh' moments.

Here's what I'm talking about. This particular design has color strips extending on the side with a writing strip for labeling. They're sealed on two sides only, easily accessible and feel nice in a heavy duty, but see-through kind of way.

They're only $5.99 for a 10 pack from Staples. I think Office Depot carries them too, but they like to hide them at the stores so I'm ordering the next batch online.

How about you? Do you have 'napkin moments' and a lot of messy scraps of paper that are just too good to throw away? What do you do with them?


  1. New stationery is always welcome and these folders are lovely!!!

    Erm.. at the moment, I have lots of paper with my bits of writing in boxes and intrays. LOL! take care

  2. I have sworn by my "mappen" -- clear plastic folders -- from Switzerland since 1969. Friends know not to bring me back wine or other souvenirs from Europe. Just more "mappen."
    Much cheaper over there, too.

  3. Kitty: Yeah, no matter. I still have plenty of papers and notebooks that will never get organized. :)

    Not-so-anonymous: Hey, you were the one who introduced me to these, but since I don't have the Swiss connection, I'll have to stick to the Staples brand.

  4. The folders are lovely, Rahma. I have plenty of napkin moments. I copy them down in a notebook and then tear and throw away those bits of paper.

  5. You have a great idea Rahma! I know the feeling of notes written on stray pieces of paper for my writing and genealogy work. I've used scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and the list goes on...ugh.
    Thanks for the tip.


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