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Be a Magpie


By: Trista Herring Baughman

Or a Raven. Or a Rook. Even a crow. Any of the corvids will do.

These perspicacious creatures are said to be fascinated by shiny things.

Your ‘shiny things’ as a writer are ideas. Keep an ear and eye out for peculiar sayings, idiosyncrasies, uncommon names, and unique predicaments.

The best thing I’ve done for my writing lately (besides writing) is to get back in the habit of keeping a writer’s notebook, which is, I suppose, still writing.

Ok, I have more than one writing notebook. I actually have a notebook hoard, most of which I don’t write in; second rule of writing and all.  I keep a tiny notebook in my purse and another on my nightstand. I use these for jotting down snippets of conversation, interesting words, or those flashes of genius that reveal themselves subliminally.

When I’m out and about and have forgotten or misplaced my little notebooks, I have Trello*. Trello is awesome. You can access it from any device. I have a board for writing and separate ones for each project on which I’m working.  I can make checklists, add attachments and labels to things, etc. It keeps me very organized. Trello isn’t the only app out there for writers, but it’s my favorite so far. Bear, Just Write, Evernote, Scrivener are a few others, but there are tons.

I have a regular-sized notebook as well. I use this notebook for–well, notes. It has the same function as the other notebooks and Trello (I always like to have a hard copy of things; it is convenient to keep them in one place). If I take a class on writing, I write my outlines here. I also use it for mind mapping, diagrams, character sketches, storyboarding, and goal setting–anything and everything related to my writing endeavors. I use highlighters and lots of sticky notes. Flipping back through my notes,  I often come across great ideas that get my creative mojo in gear.

Sometimes I get carried away with all the shiny things; it’s hard to focus on just one-the one on which I should be working. I often work on more than one thing at a time That is why making a list of goals and prioritizing them is imperative. When I set deadlines for myself, I’m more likely to accomplish those goals.

Your notebook can be ordinary or fancy, paper or digital–it doesn’t matter! Get yourself a notebook and get into the habit of noticing things. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a couple other resources on keeping a journal and collecting shiny words:

How to Keep a Writer’s Journal
The Best Writing Software

Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama to two handsome (if she does say so herself) sons. She is the author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find The Magic Telescope on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.

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