How to Take Notes While Reading to Better Your Own Writing
Notes Create A Strong Foundation
Reading is one of the best ways to better your writing. Writers should always be reading to expose themselves to new writing styles. Typically, you can learn to write better via osmosis as you read. However, this isn’t the ideal way to learn. One of the best ways to solidify what you have learned is to write it down. Taking notes is super important when reading so you can emulate all of the great things you’ve read in your own writing. Here are some tips so you can take notes as you read:
Keep a notes-notebook
This could be a true notebook, a tablet of some kind, whatever. I recommend having a separate notebook dedicated solely to your reading notes so you can organize it as you see fit, but anything will do. The reason I recommend a true notebook is because you will more than likely have a notebook nearby, but you probably won’t have your computer on while reading books. Regardless, though, setup a notebook or a word doc for all your notes and make sure you have it with you.
In your notebook or word doc create sections
Your sections can be anything you wish, but for my purposes, I have 4 sections:
- Story ideas
- Writing tips/references
- Blog ideas
These may be straightforward, but just in case, I’ll explain each one.
Take notes on story ideas
As you read books or stories online, you will more than likely be inspired to write something of your own. Consequently, a lot of the time, I get inspired at the most inopportune times. Rather than “risk the biscuit” trying to rely on my faulty memory, I write any story ideas down in this section of my notebook.
Write down interesting or inspiring quotes
I am not typically one for writing down inspirational quotes, but I love keeping track of quotes from novels that I find to be awesome. Regardless, if you find a quote that inspires you, write it down here. Reference them when you need a pick-me-up. Another way to leverage this section is to write down quotes of writing that you would like to emulate in your own. Please don’t plagiarize, of course. Rather, keep a running list of writing examples that you’d like your writing to be so you can study them later for reference material and inspiration.
Keep a list of quick tips and writing references
I follow a lot of other writer blogs. As a result, I end up with more information to sift through than I could ever dream of. Furthermore, I have an ever-growing collection of writing reference books. As your reference list grows, it might become harder and harder to remember where you heard any one piece of advice. Thus, the quick tips note section. Take notes on shorter pieces of advice. For larger, intricate advice, mark down the page number, the domain name, etc. for future reference.
If you run a blog, or would like to start one, start a blog ideas list
With social media slowly eating up all of our time, we are constantly bombarded with viral topics and trends. It can be a challenge to recall any single topic to then add your own thoughts to. Rather than try to save things on Facebook, retweet stuff on Twitter, etc., just keep a running list of topics you’d like to discuss in your notebook. You could even add a subsection to jot down your thoughts on the topic the moment you have them.
Make sure you keep your note notebook with you
This seems obvious, but it is always worth mentioning. A notebook of notes is only useful if it is with you when you need it. If you have a purse, make sure it always goes back in your purse. Carry a backpack? Make sure it goes back in the backpack. No matter where you are headed, make sure your notebook goes with you. You never know when you may need to jot something down or leverage your notes for something.
Personalize it to fit your life and style
Obviously, not all of the sections I mentioned might work for you. Perhaps sections aren’t your thing at all. Live your life and make the notebook fit into it. Don’t try to force it to be something that you wouldn’t normally use. The notebook will only help if you use it. Therefore, you are more likely to use it if you make it fit into your life. So dress it up, organize it the way you want it to be, and use it.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope that was helpful in some way. If it was, let me know and comment below, if not, comment and let me know why not. Either way, thank you so much for your time.