I'm writing along on the 100 Day Writing Challenge with you, so over the next few months of the Challenge, I'll cover some of the useful writing tips and tricks I've learned over the years. These writing tips and tricks may or may not make it into the Challenge program itself.
Today, let's talk about index cards. I've been using them for the 30 years of my writing career; they're immensely useful. I just hope that no one takes the "paperless office" idea too seriously, and they stop making them.
Your writing doesn't just happen when you sit down to write; it's non-stop.
I get more ideas when I'm away from my computer than I do when I'm sitting in front of it, so my index cards are indispensable.
They're particularly useful to capture observations. As a writer, you need to train yourself to observe, because the more observant you are, the easier you'll find your writing, no matter what you write.
Carry a bunch of index cards around with you, and write one thought, idea, or sentence per card. Just write whatever occurs to you, or strikes you as interesting. I often use this trick when I'm working on projects for clients. It keeps me "in" the project, so that when I sit down to write, the words flow smoothly.
I always carry my iPhone, so often I'll snap a quick image to help me to get back into the frame of mind I was in when I had the thought or insight which I wrote on a card.
You may be wondering what I write on my index cards.
I've been developing a book proposal for a client. From memory, here are some of the thoughts/ ideas/ insights which made it onto index cards in the course of a recent day.
* During my morning walk: street names (the book's a bio); a thought about a huge ghost gum looming over a house (the tree's tripled in size over the past decade); a reminder to ask the client a question.
* While I was running errands: an article title from the cover of Fortune magazine (I was sitting in my accountant's office when I spotted it); ideas for various topics we might cover in some of the book's chapters; a reference to a funny story a friend told me...
Anything which catches my eye makes it onto an index card. When I study the cards later, I get additional ideas.
I encourage you to try the index card trick. It's a good one.
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Here's what I learned in the first couple of weeks of the 100 Day Writing Challenge.
I learned that many of the participants are new writers, and they're confused. They're confused about what goals to set, how to get clients, what to write...
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