Organizing a Blogging Notebook in OneNote

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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

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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 

Streams

Last year during NaBloPoMo, I wrote a post about mental mapping, mostly because I had just finished a mental map for  WHAP and didn’t want to write another post. At the time, I praised being about to organize this information non-linearly on a huge map. However, more recently, I’ve been thinking about organizing information more linearly, in streams.

This was one of the first things that attracted me about Twitter and Google Keep. Links and random outbursts about life could all be combined into one channel, with both the good and bad washed away as time passed. I make a conscious effort not to delete anything on either of these accounts unless it’s repetitive.

Anki runs on a similar principle– Break down each concept into as many pieces as possible, and only review the specific pieces that you don’t understand. The result ends up being that you review a series of usually non-related cards everyday. (Cal Newport advocates a similar system with physical flashcards for memorizing dates and other rote bits of information)

Thanks to computers, I can find a specific tweet or note with a simple search. Google Keep even allows you to color code your notes and sort by color, which is nice, because um, colors.

The search function (read: google) is changing the way we access information. Before, to find out a specific piece of information, you would have to look in a book (or multiple) and learn a bunch of extraneous information that would help you solidify the concept.  Now we only look for individual bits of information without getting the larger picture.

I use the same single subject notebook for all my math/science classes. It’s a bit of a hassle to find things at times, but  but I wouldn’t dare do something like that for my humanities classes. I see the humanities, namely history have to be learned in a set order or else everything falls apart.

Ok, that’s it