Organizing a Blogging Notebook in OneNote

Capture

A few months ago, I made the executive decision to create a new notebook in OneNote solely dedicated to blogging.

This was a huge decision for me. Previously, I only had two notebooks: one to hold everything I was working on and one to hold everything I wasn’t working on. But after seeing people devote entire binders to blogging, I figured that a digital notebook wasn’t too much.

That still seems excessive. Can’t I just use the WordPress editor/Microsoft Word?

For the longest time, I only used the WordPress editor to write and edit my posts. But ideas came to me sporadically. Sometimes, I’d get a marvelous idea and realize that I only had 2 sentences to write down. This led to an incredibly messy “drafts” folder. When I wanted to work on a post, I had to open all my drafts to see which ones I was interested in working on. Sometimes, I would write something I liked but didn’t want to publish. I didn’t know what to do about that. And I never quite figured how to keep all that writing advice I read online in an easy to access place.

The blogging notebook fixed all that. There were other things I liked about OneNote as well- no distractions a Ctrl+T away, the flexibility of the page (Literally, you can just click and write something on the side if it pops up in the middle of writing.), that it syncs with my phone, that it’s free.

After some trial and error, these were the sections I came up with:

  1. Word Vomits
  2. Currently Writing
  3. Advice
  4. Finished Posts
  5. Trash
  6. For another day

Looking back, these sections were a bit arbitrary, but it worked for me. Here’s how I use each section.

Word Vomits: The first place where all my well, word vomiting, goes. If something comes to me spontaneously, it goes here, whether it’s good or not. I recently purged a good number of drafts, and there are 13 other ideas I could write about here. The first page here is a running list of ideas.  If this notebook were a brain, this would be the working memory.

Currently Writing:  These are “Word Vomits” I feel comfortable with publishing. Once I feel like the post is coherent, I copy paste the post into the WordPress editor and move the page into “Finished Posts”. This section usually holds about 3/4 posts.

Advice: I reached out to two of my favorite bloggers via email a few months ago and asked for advice. I created this section after they both responded, and I never wanted to lose those emails.  If I ever find a good piece of advice on the Internet, I put it here as inspiration.

Finished Posts: After a post gets moved to WordPress, I move the page with the draft into this section. Sometimes there’ll be snippets of lines I didn’t use or personal side notes that I didn’t want to publish. Usually a post will go through much more editing before it gets published on WordPress, and this is another way to preserve the drafts.

Trash: The receptacle for “Word Vomits” that turn out to be actual vomit. I keep them around in case I change my mind (and to remind myself how I can write crappy pretentious stuff at times.)

For another day: I created this section after I wrote a reflection on a trip I took and the people I met. I felt like it was a good piece…but not something I wanted to make public yet. It was a bit too raw, something that would be more interesting to look back on a year. For now, this section is littered with half-baked anecdotes, as well as a page that’s literally “List of awkward moments”.

I could write more about the merits of such a notebook, but frankly, it’s a relief to come up with a writing process that doesn’t mind when I come up with 5 ideas in 2 hours and want to write about each of them, that doesn’t mind when I end up trashing more than half of said ideas, that doesn’t mind when I want to recover some of those ideas again.

Usually, it takes me multiple days to write, review, and finalize a post. This was an exception- 20 minutes to write in one sitting, 30 minutes to look over and publish a few days later. 

List of Lists

wp-1450301014414.jpg

As the semester comes to a close, any and all thoughts I have taken the form of lists instead of coherent sentences. And even the coherent sentences have become part of a list.

Not counting the to-do lists, these are the other lists:

  • Stuff to include in an email
  • Rituals for after I get home and before I go to sleep
  • Paper pattern for a folder
  • Benefits of using a physical planner over Google Calendar (and vice versa)
  • Questions about meditation
  • Things that I’ve started added into my schedule
  • 2nd semester senior projects
  • Cabinet Workshop plans
  • Mild rant about privilege
  • Narratives to write about high school (Similar to Stories from Middle School)
  • Random observations while sitting in class
  • List of issues to talk about to an adult (aka a list of all my problems)
  • Finals information
  • Adults to start reaching out to
  • general notes on running

Separate lists 1:

  • Winter break to do
  • Asteroid papers to read
  • Colleges that I’m applying to
  • Morning rituals (for Winter break)

Is it really a surprise that I’ve gone through 50 pages already, and it hasn’t even been the end of the month? 2


  1. This may seem cool and complicated to have separate lists outside of a notebook, but really, I just wanted to rip out a couple of defective pages in my notebook. 
  2. Was about to get email tendencies and sign my name at the end of the blog post. Good thing I didn’t. -Amy 

This post is so meta, even this acronym (More writing about writing)

Some things I write with the intention that no one should read. EVER. Like my stalker story from middle school. Like my Google Keep. Like my diaries. Those things were supposed to be for my own records only, and if anyone were to look over my shoulder as I wrote them, I would have instantly closed my computer/notebook and shooed them away, perhaps with violence.

But a few years/months later, they’ve all ended up on here for the Internet to read, and any despair I had at originally posting them has since dissipated. The passing of time has made all my memories fuzzier and made blurred the edges of all my embarrassing stories.

I decided to remove the password from some of my old posts a few weeks ago. Namely, this one, this one, this one, and this one. It was liberating (if not scary), but it also got me thinking about all the writing I put out.

It’s not just this blog. All the Facebook messages I type out, all the emails, all my school assignments, are written for other people’s eyes. I don’t always put as much effort into those as I should, and I’m worried that it reflects on me poorly.

um

My private writings are even sloppier. If no one’s going to read something I write, I have no motivation to make it good. I’ve started carrying around a notebook as a planner and as a place to record fringe thoughts (Also to look busy during class when I don’t feel like paying attention). And I’m fiercely protective of it, partially because the ideas are bad and partially because they’re, well, private. Occasionally, I’ll show a page to someone, but if they start flipping around, I will snatch it from them. They’re not full of doodles and carefully crafted calligraphy, but I’m in love with the idea of recording spur of the moment epiphanies on paper.

Amidst the old post it notes I collected in middle school, I found a variety of writings–notes passed in class ,annotations, reminders, random doodles, testing out pens, scratch paper. With the exception of a few friends whose handwriting I recognized, most of these notes might as well have been written by strangers. But I felt like I had some sort of connection with these people. It reminded me a bit of my stalking–trying to grasp onto some part of someone in order to understand them better.

It’s an idea that’s becoming more and more popular. Most of the appeal of Humans of New York and similar projects stems from the idea that a single quote can reveal profound insights about humanity. On one hand, I think it’s beautiful that a handful of words can define a person. On the other hand, it scares me that the scattering of writing that I leave everywhere are supposed to represent who I am and that each person will only see a small portion of these pieces. That maybe this is all just some sort of shallow 21st century interaction and that it’s simply not an accurate picture of who I am.

What’s the solution? The Law of Large Numbers. Statistically, the more I write and produce, the more accurate the resulting body of writing will be. Even if the individual pieces aren’t accurate, in the long run, everything will average out. With HONY, the individual people may not be representative of the population, but as a whole, it paints a complete picture.

In my world, it means “Write and produce as much as possible, but also engage with the world”

 Because xkcd is the best.