It doesn’t matter if you are writing a term paper for school or writing the novel that will make you an international superstar. The process of writing is the same. It often involves collecting massive amounts of information. You may fill up notebooks, index cards, file folders, drawers, or in some cases, even rooms full of papers and notes. In order to turn these random thoughts into useful ideas, it’s time to consider a notes organizer.
Gathering the Information
The first phase of any project requires gathering a lot of information. In the end, you may decide to delete a lot of what you have collected. But, this is not the time to make that decision. Collecting is about gathering anything that seems remotely pertinent to your project. You can decide if it will fit later on.
Collecting data is easy. Making sense of it can be hard. Especially when you look around and discover that you have boxes and draws full of information and have no idea what is inside. It’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel. But don’t give up yet. Realize that this is a common way to begin a project. The trick is to try to keep the pieces together. Store everything related to your project in a large plastic or storage container while you are still in the gathering phase.
How to Make Sense of Your Information
Once the collection process is almost complete, it is necessary to begin sorting through the information into similar groups or chunks. You will also be able to identify the elements that require further research. Duplicate or extraneous data can be discarded during this process. Think of this stage as housekeeping or spring cleaning where you empty out the closets and put everything back in a neat and logical order.
By taking an inventory of your information, you should have a better grasp on the information as a whole. This will help direct the next step, which is placing the data in a logical sequence. In other words, place the ideas in an order that tells a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. During this process you should only concern yourself with major concepts. The details will come later.
Now that you have determined the shape of your story or project, the details can be added in to help expand upon your main ideas. There are typically several details that support each main idea. They need to be grouped and sorted using the same process that helped to determine the main ideas. Don’t get too caught up in decision making right now. You can always change the sequence of events later.
This looks Like the Place I Started
Okay, so you have now grouped all of your ideas into a logical order. You also know what elements require further research. The best way to manage this collection of data is with a notes organizer. These are often tree-based programs that let you outline your information on your computer. There are number of very good programs that you can download at reasonable prices. They make it easy to manage your data, add new information, delete extraneous information, and move items around with speed and flexibility.