Tag: Writing Advice

How to Use a Writing Journal

Notebook on a table used as a writing journal with a fireplace in the background
Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

Writing is, indubitably, hard. No one can teach you, really. There are books and rules and what have you, and they can help to a certain extent. However, you have to do the work, day after day, and figure out what works for you eventually. One of the things that has helped me a lot is a writing journal.

What is a writing journal, you wonder. Nothing fancy, I assure you. Mine is simply an unassuming black notebook that I keep on my desk while writing. Every time I get an idea, get an insight, notice a problem that I need to address, or realize I need a synonym, I write it all down in my journal.

Why bother? After all, if you have an idea or learned something, it’ll be right there, in your head, where it came from. And it may be quicker to look up a synonym online, for instance.

Ha! You wish. After spending half my morning looking up better ways of saying anxious and debating the various merits of distressed, nervous, and afraid, I had a light bulb moment. This was a waste of my time. I could always do that later, while editing. Just let the writing flow, while it lasts.

As for learnings, I found that the process of writing it all down and reviewing it later made for better retention. I would simply remember it better and occasionally apply it, too. I am human, after all, and not very good at taking my own advice.

I usually review the previous day’s notes in the morning, before starting a new writing session, and would occasionally flip through pages every now and then.

Notebook on a table
Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

These are some of the things I wrote down in my writing journal. Not world-shattering, certainly, but that made so much difference to my process. Maybe my writing has improved, or maybe not, but one thing is certain: it’s much faster.

  • End your writing session when you know exactly where you’re going. It’s going to be easier to pick up the thread the next morning. Since you know what you wanted to say, you get a quick and easy start, and then you can just go on from there, gathering steam as you go.
  • Use a printed outline of the book and the chapter you’re working on to remind you of the book and chapter structure so you always know where you are and what the focus should be. Use it as a checklist when editing.
  • Don’t break for small things, e.g., “quickly checking” something or throwing a new load of laundry in the washing machine. They derail your focus and thread of thinking. Plan your known interruptions to coincide with a natural break in your writing flow. My washing machine has a 1 ½ hour cycle, so I attend to the laundry when I’m ready for a break. 
  • Don’t compare your first draft with the finished work of established writers. All first drafts are shitty, as Anne Lamott reminded us in “Bird by Bird“. You don’t see their first draft, only the long-polished final version. 
  • Use a Slush file for text snippets that don’t fit in your WIP but are worth saving. 
  • You run out of steam after a while; learn to notice when you’re spent. There’s no point in struggling more when you’ve reached that point. Just call it a day and be satisfied with that day’s work. 
  •  Don’t write and edit, or you’ll never finish. When you write, you write. Don’t pause. Make a note, and highlight what needs to be checked or changed to know where to go and what to do later. Later is the important word. Highlight words you’ve repeated on the same page in a certain color to go back later and look up synonyms or re-write the sentence when you edit (later). Same for words that don’t feel 100%. Look for the perfect word later.

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How To Kill Your Darlings

Close up of a red squirrel
A squirrel photo I couldn’t delete.

I take hundreds, if not thousands, of photos but keep only a handful. The selection is an exercise of self-restraint. Photos of flowers or other static subjects are easier to delete but wildlife? It’s not easy. You cannot predict whether the animals or birds would come, and if they come, what they’d do. Getting good quality and interesting photos of wildlife is challenging. So, when I finally get some images, I find it hard to delete them. (Besides, squirrels are so cute that it’s almost impossible to delete any photos!).

But this is nothing compared to deleting something I have written.

Kill your darlings.” Of course, I’ve read about it* and wholly agreed with it, especially in other writers’ works. But, oh, so hard to do in one’s own text! I loved a short story I had waved at the beginning of the chapter I was working on, and it broke my heart to delete it. But it had to be done; it was good, but it had no place in that chapter. But there’s a Band-Aid for your bruised little scribbler’s soul: create a Slush File.

A Slush File?

What’s a slush file, you ask. This is where the killed darlings go, or all seducing ideas unrelated to your current work. Don’t have the heart to delete a clever paragraph? Remove it from the text and save it in a separate document. See, you can still eat your cake and have it! Your text will thank you, and you’d still have your fabulous fragment. You may even use it another day; have a glance at your slush file a few chapters later, and you may save yourself some typing. Who knows?

Or: got a great idea for a different project? Write it down quickly and return to the project you were working on. Once you’ve finished it, visit the slush file, and pick a new project. The idea is not to go chasing new shiny things but to stay focused on whatever you were working on at the time. Get rid of that thought quickly, good as it was, and go back to work.

Close up of a red squirrel eating
Look at that mischievous look! I couldn’t delete the photo, could I?

Keep It Simple

My slush file is very straightforward: a folder called Slush (duh!) in the Scrivener document I’m currently working on, and a simple bullet point list in Apple’s Notes app for ideas and new projects, points grouped by project. Something like this:

  • End of the world story, a prepper & his cousin.
    • “Prepper John” has a so-called shack middle of nowhere, in fact, a well-stored bunker. Remote island?
    • Cousin (she), a journalist, meets him at the shack for an interview on prepping.
    • Zombies.

I keep the Notes app easily accessible on my phone’s home screen. I don’t need to search for it or open folders and files. As soon as I get one of those tempting ideas, I just write it down quickly in Notes and resume whatever I was doing at the time. 

Once I’m done with the project, I transfer the remaining Slush text fragments to a Word document called Slush. Obviously.

* About killing your darlings. The saying has been attributed to many authors, from Oscar Wilde, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner to G.K. Chesterton, Chekhov, and Stephen King. 

King leads this attribution game nowadays, very likely due to this sentence from his excellent book On Writing: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

Most scholars point to British writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.“If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.’”, he wrote in his book On the Art of Writing.

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Nobody Cares If You Don’t Write

A vintage typewriter on a wooden table
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

I weight train twice a week, Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. As I was lacing my shoes this morning, about to leave the gym, an old lady on her way in remarked, “Are you done already?” in a tone of surprise. It was 8:15 am. The gym opens at 7:30 am, and I was there on the dot. “All done! I’m here as soon as the gym opens and get it over with.”, I replied cheerfully. Not because I have this iron willpower or am the poster girl of self-discipline. In fact, I’m the exact opposite. But I’ve learned the hard way that I lose as soon as I start debating whether to train or not. So you see, one way of manifesting my creativity is coming up with better and better excuses for why I couldn’t train that day.

To cut a long story short, I found that the best way to deal with my penchant for making up excuses was to just do it. Just do it. Schedule the time in my calendar, have the gym clothes and the bag ready by the door, then be out of the house in minutes once the alarm clock rings. Not questioning the form of the day, not debating pros and cons, not making up an excuse. Just do it.

The crazy thing is that I love it once I’m at the gym! 45 minutes fly by, and I head home, feeling relaxed and not a little virtuous. It’s just the beginning that is hard, getting over the initial resistance.

Very similar to writing, I mused as I was heading home after another training session, gone from reluctance to exhilaration in minutes. I love having written. But starting to write? Pure hell.

A vintage typewriter, a notebook, a clock on a wooden desk
Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Be Your Own Boss

You have to be your own slave master and be willing to hold the whip yourself if you want to write. Nobody is going to do that for you. Unlike a job where you have a manager to push you, writing demands to be your own boss. Nobody will set your deadlines and goals, monitor your progress, or demand status reports. You’re on your own.

If your dream is to write and you don’t write, nothing happens. Apart from the soul-wrenching fact you haven’t written, that is. And guess what? If you don’t hold yourself accountable and push yourself, if you don’t force yourself to stick to your routines and do the work, if you don’t write, in other words – nobody will care. NOBODY WILL CARE. It’s your dream, not other people’s. At best, they might feel sorry for you if you failed to produce the science-fiction novel of your dreams that you talked so much about. But that’s it, a few fleeting seconds and “I’m sorry it didn’t work, mate!”. Then they move on with their lives, leaving you with your unfinished novel and the bitter taste of failure in your mouth.

How do you move the needle? How do you push through that initial resistance, that apparently insurmountable mountain blocking your path? How do you start writing even when you don’t want to?

Writing with a fountain pen
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Power of Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is what takes you from dreaming to fulfilling your dream. Self-discipline is doing what you must do to reach your goals, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to do it. Have you noticed how tempting house cleaning, for instance, is when you have to do something you don’t want to do? Arranging your drawers is suddenly a delight, not a chore. Sorting your books by color seems the best use of your time. Your mind, the traitor, gets creative and comes up with lots of other things you could do instead of writing.

And this is your chance when those treacherous ideas start to form. Nip them in the bud immediately. Don’t let that thought be fully formed or that idea take root in your mind because you’ve lost if they do. Push back directly. No is a powerful word; use it!

“No, I can’t wash the windows now; it’s my writing time.”
” No, I can’t arrange my socks now; it’s my writing time.”
“No! No distractions! It’s my writing time.”

Don’t negotiate or allow any discussions. Instead, decide that you’ll follow your plan for that day and do what you had planned to do, which was to write. Just do it. As simple as that. I didn’t say it was easy.

Coffee mug and notebook on a low table in front of a fireplace
Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

Make It Easier to Get Started

Can you make it easier?

Well, as a matter of fact, I can.

I prepare for writing as I prepare for my training, making it quick and easy to get started. This means setting the alarm in the evening, laying out the breakfast things in the kitchen, and making my workspace ready for a new writing session at the end of a writing session.

Workspace readiness is different for different people, as it should be. For my part, it involves tidying up my desk, removing coffee cups and cat hairs (if you have pets, you know what I mean), putting back papers and pens in their holders, and refilling the water bottle.

(Yes, the water won’t be super fresh the next morning, but you have no idea how treacherous filling a bottle can be! This is how it goes: I’ll walk to my desk, fully intending to write, then realize that I need water. I go to the kitchen and start filling the bottle, gazing through the window all the while. Then a deer runs past, or a squirrel jumps on the low stone wall or the sparrow hawk flies by. My curiosity picked, I leave the bottle on the counter and stand by the window to see what would happen next. That doe is usually not alone; her two fawns must be following shortly. That red squirrel is so cute; I can watch her shenanigans all day. Would the sparrow hawk just fly by or go for one of the small birds in the bushes? And so it goes, the monkey mind jumping from one thought to another. Half an hour has gone by before I’m back at my desk. Hence, I fill the bottle the night before. One source of distraction eliminated.)

When I sit at my desk in the morning, it’s a pleasure to see a well-organized workplace with everything I need in its place (including the water bottle). It’s easy then just to sit down and start working.

Getting started is still daunting, but I’ve found that stopping for the day when things go well works wonders. This way, I can start right away next time as I know exactly what to do. I don’t lose any time staring into space, paralyzed by the blank page. The start is already there, and the only thing I need to do is continue where I left it the day before. And once I’ve started, it’s easy to keep going.

A slice of cake
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

And Maybe a Carrot?

I also like to use carrots, small rewards I give myself if I follow the plan. A small piece of chocolate, watching squirrels, going for a walk, creating a composite squirrel photo, or maybe buying a new book on a tough day. (You have no idea how many bad days I have!). Anything pleasurable, anything that I can look forward to, a carrot dangling in front of me to take me through the challenging moments, a motivator helping me stay focused when I’m struggling.

Besides, there’s a bonus: positive reinforcement. Every time I reward myself for having written, I teach that monkey brain that writing is a pleasurable thing, something I enjoy. Writing is joy, not anxiety. That will make associating writing with positive feelings rather than apprehension easier. In time, it becomes a habit. Wake up, have breakfast, sit down, and write. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat some more. Don’t overthink it; just do it. Wonderful things will happen to those who wait write every day, inspired or not.

Vintage fountain pen on a piece of written paper
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash


Self-discipline is essential when it comes to writing. It is the ability to stay focused and committed to your goals, even when it’s hard. Remember the three things: make it easy to get started, say no and just do it, and reward yourself along the way.

You can’t change the past but you can still shape your future. So become your own boss and coach. Make choices today that will make your future better. If you sit down and write every day, even for a few minutes, in time, you’ll have a significant amount of writing done. A page a day means 365 pages at the end of the year and a lot of practice learning the craft.

In the long term, the reward of self-discipline is fulfillment. The opposite is regret. Nobody but you will care if your dream quietly dies on the way.

The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.

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How to Write Anything

An abstract photo of the sea
Fire in the Sea © Mihaela Limberea 2021

“I don’t know what to write about.”

“Of course you do. You must know something.”

“I know nothing.”

OK. Let’s see.

I know my name and the name of the street I live on. And of this tiny island I call home.

I know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I’ve seen it. It’s real.

I know the blackbirds are early risers and catch the worms indeed.

I know a jay can scoop and carry away twenty peanuts in one go.

I know the sounds of the trees when the wind catches in their long arms.

“See, you do know something. What else do you know?”

How quickly rabbits and squirrels demolish my Halloween pumpkins. (Very).

What finches and blackbirds love to eat (hemp seeds and apples).

The funny way the squirrels or the woodpeckers chase each other around the old oak in my back yard.

The way the cat twitches her whiskers in her sleep, chasing squirrels and sparrows and growling softly.

The blare of the emergency broadcast testing on Mondays at 3 pm, always on schedule, always unexpected.

“That can’t be all. Surely there’s more.”

Resistance is futile.”

“Very funny.”

“Very well. A writer’s life is lonely.”

“Would you want it any other way?”

“Of course not.”

“Go on.”

Writing is a curse and a blessing.

It’s hard to start and even harder to stop.

All first drafts are atrocious. Awful. Lousy. Get used to it.

Words form slowly on the paper, and when they do, they don’t sound as good as they did in your head. So get used to this, too.

It’s most likely that your writing will be misunderstood, but that’s OK. Once you send something out into the world, it doesn’t belong to you anymore. So let it be and move on.

Other people’s work is always better, you think. Don’t. What others do is not your business. Your business is to write.

Know that there’s plentiful in the world to keep you from writing: airing the mattresses; checking if there’s milk in the fridge and potatoes in the pantry; looking up what a baby porcupine is called (a porcupette – you’re welcome!); and a myriad other needs that arise suddenly the moment you sit down to write.

Resist the urge to rush to the bedroom or the pantry. Instead, write down the porcupine question for later. If need be, tie yourself to the chair like a modern Odysseus, but keep your butt on the chair. This is called the BIC technique by the people in the know.

“What’s BIC?”

“Butt in the chair.”

“Oh, I see.”

Talent is good, but self-discipline is better. 

If you want to be a writer, write. Don’t talk about writing; write.

The self-appointed inner critic is a jerk; ditch him. 

Doubt is the writer’s constant companion, as is fear, perfectionism, and other delights you’ll discover on your own. It’s normal; you’re not alone.

Write, write, write. Then write some more. It’s the only way to stay sane; that, and some strenuous walking every day—bonus points for wandering in the woods. (Look up Japanese forest bathing after you’ve done your writing for the day).

Having high expectations of your work is the surest way of failing. So do your best and call it good enough.

Does a little perfectionist live inside you? Lock him up and throw away the key. Always striving to become better is good; never being satisfied with anything you do is bad. Nothing is ever purr-fect but a cat.

“What did I tell you? It’s hard to start but even harder to stop.”

“What can I say? You were right.”

“I always am. I have to go now, though; the mattresses need airing this very moment, I’m afraid.”

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If You Want to Be a Writer, Write!

A pink water lily. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

I was talking to my aunt some time ago, and I mentioned I was reading about stoicism. “Well, that’s certainly the best time to do it.”, she said as we were talking about Covid-19 just before we moved on to books.

A practical philosophy to guide you to live a better life, become a better and wiser human being, more resilient to whatever life throws at you, Stoicism is definitely helpful these days. 

But what I was thinking about, in fact, was the way you could apply it in your creative endeavors.  We’re all human beings, after all, before being artists.

Stoics didn’t give much for theories, they were more hands on. They valued action, not talk. 

Live your values, don’t just talk about them, simply put.

For an artist, it means you shouldn’t talk about the book you’re going to write, the music you’ll compose, the painting you’ll do. You should write. You should compose. You should paint. Then you can talk about it.

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it, said Epictetus.

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be oneMarcus Aurelius advised.

If you want to be a writer, write. Don’t talk about writing.

As a beginner, it’s easy to get caught in appearances. You know, people-watching at a café, scribbling ideas onto a Moleskine notebook. Buying the latest and greatest writing software and gadgets. Tinkering with a website. And so on.

But these are all, well, appearances.

What you don’t see when reading a good book is the toil behind it. The time on the chair, the long hours spent staring at the blank page, the despair, the self-doubt, the inner criticism, the endless edits, the re-writs, time after time, day after day. Writing is a hard business, as Hemingway once said. *

Don’t be one of those people sitting at the café, sipping their latte, and talk about writing a book. Stop talking and start creating.

You become an artist by doing the work of an artist, not by talking about it.

* letter to Maxwell Perkins, 1938 from Selected Letters

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Spend It All

Close up of a palm leaf. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Annie Dillard (b. 1945), American author. Her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a “sustained nonfiction narrative about the fields, creeks, woods, and mountains near Roanoke, Virginia,” won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

To read more quotes, click here.

All Creation Is an Act of Faith

Reflection of reeds in the lake water. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

All creation is an act of faith. Faith in yourself and your capacity. Your skills. Your persistence. Your vision. Especially your vision.

As an artist, you don’t have a blueprint, a manual to show you the way. No IKEA how-to-kit. “Follow these steps, assemble these parts; here’s the final product.” Only the vision in your mind, of what it could be.

At times, you may waver. Self-doubt creeps in. You run into a problem, and your vision seems to be more and more a fata morgana, a mirage drawing further and further away.

Other times, you cannot be even bothered to do the work. “What’s the use? It’ll be useless. It’s such a bad idea.”

That’s fine, in fact. Self-doubt is an artist’s constant companion. We have to learn to live with it. Acknowledge it, look it in the eye, and keep working. 

There’s no other way.

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.
― Vincent van Gogh

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Keep Going: Cardio for Zombie Hunters and Writers

Digital art by Mihaela Limberea.
One of my early digital artworks.

As a writer, as an artist in any field, in fact, you need stamina. Endurance. Grit. Persistence. The equivalent of Rule #1 in Zombieland: cardio. Cardio for the brain. 

Laboring day after day, alone, with no other guidance than the vision in your head, takes its toll. You waver. You stumble and fall. You lose your way (even Dante needed a guide).

Self-doubt sets in. “Am I really doing the right thing? Should I have gone a different way? What if I fail? Is this good enough?” The inner critic gains on you; you start losing yourself, overwhelmed by his incessant, malicious chatter.

Patience wears thin. You look at the few lines you wrote and imagine the unfathomable amount of time it’ll take to stretch it in a book. A whole book. How would you ever get there? You can’t imagine it anymore.

Distractions attack your focus. You mean to check a synonym, and half an hour is gone, without a synonym to show for it. (But on the other hand, you know a lot more about the mating rituals of penguins).

Yet, somehow, you have to keep going. Keep working, keep realizing the vision in your head, despite, at times, crippling self-doubt, constant restlessness, and distractions.

How do you do that? How do you keep going when you feel you’ve spent yourself, and you don’t have anything left to give? When you can’t imagine writing one more paragraph, let alone a whole page or a whole chapter? 

Simple. Small steps. 

Forget the goal (a whole book!), just focus on the task for the day. Writing 500 words. Or 1,000. Then forget them as well. 

Write one sentence. Just one. Then the next one. Then the next one.

Don’t think, just write. One word at a time. Pebble by pebble by pebble, as Donna Tartt says*.

Successful writers are the ones who keep working, not the ones who have talent or write beautiful sentences. Yes, there may be more talented writers, and yes, some may write better than you. But this means nothing if they don’t persevere and actually finish the project. What matters, in the end, is the end result. 

So, you write one word, and another one, and another one. Day after day after day. There’s no other way.

* It is just pebble by pebble by pebble by pebble. I write one sentence until I am happy with it until I go on to the next one and write that one until I am happy with it. And I look at my paragraph and if I am not happy with that I’ll write the paragraph until I’m happy with it and then I go on this way. And, of course, even writing this very slow way, one does have to go back. One does start off on the wrong foot sometimes and a whole scene has to be chopped and you have to start over again. Generally, you know that pretty quickly though. You realize you have painted yourself into a corner and you think, “Okay I am just going to trace my footsteps back to the last solid bit of ground that I know. Look around start again and take a different tack.” It’s the way that William Styron writes and he said, when he was about my age, that he realized that he had maybe four or five books in him—the way that he worked—and he said he was fine with that. I’m fine with that too. It’s okay by me.Donna Tartt

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How to Create a Project Plan for Writing a Non-Fiction Book

A pile of books, an open book, and a cup of coffee on a table.
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

I should probably have started my book writing log with this post, but hey, better late than never!  This post is about creating a project plan for writing a non-fiction book.

At Microsoft, I used to manage large global projects, and I always used a project plan. So, when I wanted to write my first non-fiction book, my first step was to figure out what I needed to do by when. 

I spent quite some time on this. Managing large projects has taught me that careful planning is essential. It’s well-invested time. Later on, when you have a lot to do, and life starts whirling around you at lightspeed (as it will do), you’ll be thankful that you don’t have to think about what’s next. You’ve done all thinking in the planning phase, so you can just have a look at your plan and go do the next tasks. Easy.

How to Create a Project Plan for Writing a Non-Fiction Book

I used these two books: Robin Colucci, How to Write a Book That Sells You and Tucker Max & Zach Obront, The Book In A Box Method; they complement each other well. 

Robin Colucci offers a checklist on her website, and I used that as my foundation. It didn’t include the research part, even though she talks about gathering your research etc., in the book. I’ve read a lot of books on writing non-fiction, and not one mentioned research at all. 

I searched online, and Cal Newport’s article on how to build a research database was best in its simplicity. Read my earlier post about my research database; you can download my database template if you’re interested.

Anyway, I built on Colucci’s template, added the research part, more on editing, and created new sales and marketing sections. Her book didn’t look into that at all since she assumed you’d want a publisher. I’m not sure which way I’ll go, so I’ve added those sections but didn’t go into great details. At this point, I’m focused on writing the book, not dreaming about sales. There’ll be time for time once I start editing.

I’m still wrestling with the research part. I feel it should come before outlining the book because, although I’m clear on what I want to include in the book, changes may be needed once I’ve read the research books. I’ll update the template once I’ve been through the process and learn more.

Here’s my template. With a column for Comments, of course. Feel free to use it. And do let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

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How to Build a Research Database for a Non-Fiction Book

Library Index Cards Drawer to illustrate a research database. The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Of course I visit libraries while on vacation! You don’t?

As mentioned in my earlier post, I’ve started building the research database for my non-fiction book. 

I had looked around on the world wide web earlier and found several good articles on how to do that, all more or less complicated. I’m a gal of simple tastes, so I was looking for something not too complicated or relying too much on technology. I wanted a simple solution, sustainable in the long run. I’m planning on writing more books.

Cal Newport had a great article on building a research database, and I followed that process and kept it simple with an Excel file. Newport’s article focuses on writing an academic paper, but I found it useful for a non-fiction book too.

There are more advanced ways, but I feel an Excel file meets my needs. I don’t want to over-complicate things. Apps come and go; Excel remains. Simplicity is the essence of happiness, as Cedric Bledsoe said.

The only thing that I’ve added is an extra column for Comments. Everyone with whom I worked on a project at Microsoft would recognize it. No project plan of mine would ever miss this column, ha, ha! I simply find it so useful for recording bits of information that you may need, for instance, a link to a relevant site. Once a process improver, always the process improver, I guess.

Here’s the file if you’re interested. Feel free to download it, and let me know if you have any feedback or questions.

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