Once I got to an archive, I created a new Word document for each collection I looked at. As I read, I transcribed the quotes I thought would be useful for me, making sure to note in bold when a volume changed over to the next volume. As I transcribed, if I came across a quote that immediately gave me something to say, I’d make a note to myself using all caps so that I could spot it easily when skimming a document. I should say that sometimes these notes were useful, and sometimes they were completely useless; at various points during the write-up stage I found myself vehemently crossing out my capitalized notes.The author, raherrmann, then used to put these word documents into 3 x 5" formats and print them onto index cards, though how this happens exactly--does Avery make sheets of index cards? do you stack them up like photo paper?--isn't specified.
The end result is a stack of index cards that you can shuffle around, with page numbers to help you put the whole thing back together. Doesn't this sound orderly?
I've tried with index cards a few times just to see if it will help my writing process, but I am too impatient to type everything out in this way, although like raherrmann, I take copious notes and transcribe a lot at archives. I always go back to the tried and true.
- books bristling with translucent colored tags or post-its piled high around me
- a nest of printed Word documents in front of me
- a yellow pad with "Don't forget to write this!" and a lot of handwritten things on it
- more Word documents open on the computer.
Evernote would be smarter, probably, but I can't get the hang of it. If it's in a file, even if it's an Evernote file, it's invisible to me. It doesn't help that I've never gotten it to read handwriting, as it's supposed to do, and that sometimes the things I think I've captured on the web are blank. I know I'm doing something wrong, but it takes too much time to figure out.
Scrivener has helped immensely with making the whole manuscript in chapters visible at once, but if I put research in the research folders, I still forget about it. The research journal has helped, too, since I can search for terms and see what I thought about something. 750words.com lets you download all your daily writing as a text file, so that's searchable, too.
But wouldn't it be great to have all those thoughts in index cards ready to be put together?
What's your research/writing process?