• Sofia Sawyer

Writing Tools: New Process for Always, Ella

I’m always looking for new ways to grow as a writer, whether it’s taking courses to improve my craft or finding better tools to keep my story on track. When it comes to planning my stories, I’ve used several methods and tools including pantsing, scannable notebooks, online templates, and more. Although they’ve done the trick, none of them was a clear winner to make the plotting easier. Therefore, I’m using my next novel Always, Ella as a chance to explore a new way to keep my notes straight.


My Most Recent Writing Tool


When plotting Tangled Up in You, I leveraged a new tool called whitelines, a notebook that has special paper and can be seamlessly scanned with their app. I loved knowing I could hand write things, scan them, and send them to places like my Google Drive or email.


It was a great concept in theory, but my handwriting is atrocious. It never looked like the neat, pretty videos I watched about BuJo, that’s for sure! Couple that with the fact that I can’t do a keyword search, and the notebook became less helpful in the long run. If I had to make changes to characters or move scenes around, the cross-outs were messy.


Also, having to structure the notebook and build out the index was a time suck. At least with online templates, you can copy a blank version and start filling it out in two seconds flat. It’s quick to replicate. Not to mention, what happens if I lost the notebook? If I didn’t scan my updates, I would have lost that work.

Back to the drawing board! It was time to consider a new option.


My New Writing Tool


I liked the idea of having a physical notebook or binder to jot down notes, especially when I need a break from the computer. But typical binders are way too bulky and annoying. I also ran into the issue of not having a digital version of my notes if I stuck with the physical notebook.

My solution: an A5-sized binder.


I spent a lot of time looking for “mini binders” and realized I wouldn’t be able to print out documents because of the paper-size issue. After realizing my printer can print on A5 paper, I decided to purchase a binder that size. It’s perfect! I can develop character details and plot out chapters on my computer, print it on pre-punched A5 paper, and stuff the notes into the binder. The best part is, the binder is small enough to fit in my purse!


Why This Matters


I sit behind a computer all day for work, and then again for several hours afterward or on weekends to work on my stories. Being at a desk that long kills my back and staring at screen for that many hours gives my brain fatigue. To keep my mind fresh, I knew I had to step away from the computer. Having this binder offers the best of both worlds. I’m able to build out digital templates that I can easily edit online (no more messy cross-outs), and I also have the physical version for when I need a break from the screen.


Not to mention, it will be great for when I want to make notes on the fly. With Always, Ella taking place where I live, I can scout out areas I want to include in the story. For example, if I’m at a wine bar, I can make notes about the wines I had, how it tasted, and the overall atmosphere. If I take a stroll downtown, I can write about the weather, the sights I’d see, and the smells from the amazing restaurants I walk by. It’ll be way easier (and less rude) to make notes this way than pulling out my phone or laptop.


I hope this finally will be the right writing tool I can stick with for stories to come. I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

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