I read ebooks using the Kindle app on my iPad, and highlight text that resonates. I’ve created a folder in my writer’s database titled “Copy Ideas.” What happens next turns the highlighted text into a superpower!
Make Your Writer’s Database Actionable
Merely copying and pasting text into a database does nothing. But making your notes actionable pays dividends.
For example, I’m a student of similes, dialogue, metaphors, and descriptions. I never copy to plagiarize. Instead, I record patterns for use as writing models.
Creating a sentence or paragraph with the aid of that model can inspire some amazing results! And that’s a superpower available to anyone who creates a writer’s database.
Organize Your Writer’s Database
Whether you prefer an old-school journal or a high-tech app, organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you.
For instance, focus on a set of topics — interesting and useful things for writing. In my case, I’ve settled on three broad areas — writing, publishing, and marketing.
I record actionable notes and file them into searchable folders.
Here’s a sample of my topic folders, but keep in mind it’s not about how many notes you take or what you named them, but the ease of access and use.
- Genres (e.g., Action, Crime, Mystery, Romance, Suspense… Thriller)
- Tips (e.g., Archetypes, Backstory, Beats, Beta Readers, Blurbs… World Building)
- Tools (e.g., Aeon Timeline, Affinity, Pages, Scrivener… Word)
- Writers (e.g., Dan Brown, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner… Dorothy L. Sayer)
- Amazon (e.g., A+ Content, Author Page, Comments, Keywords, Legal… SEO)
- Draft2Digital (e.g., Formatting, Ebooks, Print Books)
- KDP (e.g., How-to, Kindle Unlimited, Rules)
- Self-Publishing (e.g., How-to, Platforms, Scams)
- Wide vs. Narrow (e.g., Available Retail Markets, How-to Sell Wide, Pros and Cons)
- Ads (e.g., Platforms, Pros and Cons)
- Book Funnel (e.g., ARCs, Beta Readers)
- Branding (e.g., Author Page, Bio, Website)
- Canva (e.g., Book Trailers, Social Media)
- Email (e.g., Apple Mail, MailChimp, MailerLite)
Okay, I admit a writer’s database is merely a tool. So you’re probably wondering, must I create and maintain actionable notes?
For me, I need to organize the information in a retrievable form. I’m lost without my writer’s database, so my answer is yes. You might disagree, and that’s okay.
If you decide to create a writer’s database, here’s a brief list of options, but there are many more.
A simple journal works for some, and I still routinely jot notes and drawings with a mechanical pencil into my favorite notebook. Learn more on Amazon*.
This app is my workhorse and houses thousands of actionable notes, including images. It comes free with the Apple’s iPhone, iPad, laptops, and desktops. I can view the same note on any of my devices, and access the information online with my browser. Learn more…
For years I used the paid version of Evernote, but found I could do the same for free with Apple Notes. Evernote has a free version, but much has changed since I last use this app, so check the reviews. Learn more…
Microsoft’s OneNote might be right for you, especially if you use a Windows-based laptop or desktop and have a subscription to Microsoft 365. Learn more…
My wife enjoys using the free SimpleNote app, which works great across popular devices and computers. However, it’s for text notes only (no images). She uses it to capture ideas for her blog, especially quotes, references, and website links. If you’re a WordPress fan, the folks at Automattic make SimpleNote. Learn more…
You can use Notion as a writer’s database if you’re willing to learn the ropes. For example, if you love to customize Scrivener, you’ll probably enjoy tweaking Notion’s features and capabilities. It’s free, robust, and could become your primary tool, especially for those who do a lot of research. Learn more…
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Do you record and organize notes in a writer’s database? If yes, what do you use? If no, why not?
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