Daily Archives: March 21, 2011

OneNote to rule them all!

Social Network IconsI’ve been inspired by The Daily Post at WordPress.com to write a piece on how I manage my writing time. The Daily Post challenges bloggers to write something on their blog every day. You can use their logo’s with the slogan: I’m Part of Post A Day 2001, or in my case: I’m Part of Post A Week 2011.

The blog is very busy with daily hints and tips on improving your writing and ideas for your own blog. There are daily questions to inspire your creative feedback and get your imagination fired up so you scurry away and post something new on your blog.

I think it’s a great idea and it seems to have really taken off. People are posting links to their blogs, getting involved with the daily topics and generally doing lots of writing. There are countless blogs to stroll through, some more interesting and elaborate than others but i’s evident that each blog has a certain element of passion behind it. Not everyone is a master of the English language but that doesn’t matter, the point is people are excited over their chosen venue where their voice can be heard.

If you’re reading this then I would assume you know, or are aware of the massive range of social networking websites and citizen journalist websites, or blogs. I myself run 3 blogs, though I wish I had more time to spare on all of them . I seem to gravitate toward Noobcake more than the others. I have a Facebook account and used to indulge in the Twittersphere until I grew weary of it. Whilst not reading blogs or writing for blogs, I work on my fiction writing projects of which I have 2 currently in the pipeline. At the moment I am waiting on friends for their feedback for one whilst I work on the other.

As I read through blogs it seems many people are able to post every day, sometimes a few lines or a quick thought, others are more in-depth. When I decided to start Noobcake I figured one post a month would be a good target. That allowed plenty of time to mull over a topic that interested me, do some research, find some images etc. I wanted to write somewhat in-depth articles with meaning and passion behind them which I knew would take time. When the blog bug took hold I set up 2 more blogs of a different nature but that meant my time devoted to each one would be reduced. I wondered if I had taken on too much.

Personally I was never that bothered about hits and visitor stats or how many comments I received. Noobcake was for my own enjoyment, if others people read what I posted and their opinion then that would be a bonus. My fiction writing has had highs and lows over the years, often many months would go by and I’d write nothing at all. Then I’d give my imagination a good kicking and the words flowed once again. I’m currently at a high point where I’m writing every day, and it feels good to give my brain that kind of exercise.

In a previous post: How I research stuff I mentioned how I used Microsoft OneNote to organise my research. At the time I was just learning how this amazing piece of software could be of benefit, and now I use it every day. Inspired by The Daily Post and the constant stream of feedback on how/why/where/what people write I thought I’d explain a bit more about OneNote and how it has been a huge help in managing my writing.

MS OneNote helps you keep track of stuff.Imagine being able to create a virtual filing cabinet on your PC that looks and acts like a notebook you might hold in your hand. The image on the left shows how things can be organised and easily accessed. It really does make managing your writing an easy and pleasurable task.

Beneath each of those tabs you can have multiple pages, for example under my Characters tab I have a list of pages where I can add information about the people who populate my story – I just click anywhere on the page and start writing. Images like the swirly thing I have on my Characters tab can be set as backgrounds to give your pages a more distinct look. The same goes for the tabs which you can swap and change location and colour.

I also keep a diary in one of the tabs which I use to jot down any changes to the plot or characters or ideas. That way I can refer back to it quickly and easily. In one way it is a kind of blog but without actually being published online. For years I had notebooks and scraps of paper or individual Word docs with lists of stuff relating to various writing projects. It was a mess!

OneNote makes things very simple by keeping everything in one place. I still have a notebook beside my PC and by my bed for jotting down ideas and stuff, so the trusty BiC biro is still alive and kicking! Whereas my Noobcake blog is about my thoughts on the world around me, my OneNote diaries for fiction writing is more a personal reference guide. When I’m writing I keep OneNote and Firefox open and I often pause to look up information, refer to my notes under my tabs and so on. Whatever you paste into OneNote comes with a handy link under it so you’ll always know where it came from.

I remember when I was in primary school making scrapbooks where the class would stick Autumn eaves or newspaper cuttings inside using that wonderfully sticky PVA glue! Well OneNote is like that. If you want to grab a section of a website or anything else displayed on your screen you just press the Windows Key and S. The screen fades and you drag your cursor over it to make a box. That captures the information you need and you slot it into your OneNote book. The images in the above screenshot were captured using that method, I needed some inspiration when describing a particular scene so I searched around and captured what I needed. As it turned out I ended up describing something completely different but it shows how OneNote can help that creative process.

With practice and time it really does become second nature and a good partner to your Word docs, or whatever word processing software you use. I’ve just realised I sound like a Microsoft salesman! I’m just enthusiastic. This doesn’t have that much to do with blogging or WordPress, but in a way it still relates to the time spent managing a writing project. I have considered creating a OneNote project book for Noobcake but it would seem a bit like overkill – I keep my images in one folder and posts (written in Word) in another. Although I can see how it would be of huge benefit to someone starting out with the blog as it can be a source of information, ideas, plans, images etc.

There are other similar bits of software you can use, Christopher Dawson on ZDnet.com created a list of alternatives to OneNote, with some decent and not so decent ones. OneNote isn’t that cheap, but it’s not a bank breaker either. I was lucky to get it with MS Office when I bought my Netbook, but you can find it on Amazon – OneNote 2007 for £77, and OneNote 2010 for £52.

OneNote has become an effective tool to help manage my writing. Before I would scribble in my notebook or save websites to my favourites, a personal pet hate I have tried very hard to avoid in recent times. We all have our favourite websites but when it comes to keeping track of them I find the drop down list tiresome. I don’t want to have to wade through a webpage to find what I am looking for each time I need a specific piece of information, so I copy/paste or Windows S the screen and slot it into OneNote. It sticks a link under it so I can refer to that website if I need to. That way I keep track of everything I need in more simple terms, and reduces my time spent trawling the net for stuff.

Before I wrap this up I’ll mention the nifty logos at the top of the page. I didn’t doodle them myself, I found them on a website I no longer have in my favourites. I saved them as I figured one day I’d like to use them. So if you fancy using them for your own blog or project feel free to use the ones below.Right click, save, have a coke and a smile!

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