Writing Desk Must-Haves: Post-It Notes

In an effort to share writing tips, I figured I’d talk a little about one of my favourite tools: Post-It Notes.

I love these things.  They’re so handy.

I use three types with my writing and editing: the classic square Post-It, the paper flag note, and the plastic flag note.

The classic square Post-It (and sometimes the funky die-cut ones) come out to play most often.  I leave normal notes to myself with them, of course, usually pinning it to my metal desk with magnets.  I’ve left myself notes about potential plot ideas, books to look up, and even little facts that I need to keep in mind for plots, such as when Daylight Savings hits.

When I was tackling Draft #2, a reader had given me several notes that applied to large parts of the manuscript, if not the entire thing.  I wrote each idea on its own note and stashed them in the little pockets in the cover of the draft’s binder.  I usually reviewed them quickly before each editing session, so the ideas were fresh in my mind as I was going over the text.  For Draft #2, I also used die-cut flower notes in an obnoxious orange for mid-text notes.  Really hard to miss those guys.

The square notes are also useful for outlining plots.  I am terrible at making outlines.  I always miss things, or move things around, or take things out, so outlines don’t tend to last very long.  So instead I’ll write a brief description of each scene on its own Post-It and stick them to the wall.   For example, “C in tower, T arrives, golem chat” is currently hanging on the wall between “C, I, & C @ picnic, golem pops up” and “C & T travel to chat w/ Scholar.”  I can move the notes around easily, or even leave them up for a couple of days while I decide what I’m doing with them.

The paper flag notes are probably the least-used ones lately, but I tend to use them to create labelled sections in notebooks.  Because don’t believe what the packaging says: writing on the plastic flag with anything short of a permanent marker is a joke.

The plastic flags are handy for marking which pages have important notes on them.  They tend to come in packs of four or five colours, so they’re useful for colour-coding different types of notes.  For my current project, pink flags denote stubborn adverbs, and green flags mean I need to check other parts of the text to verify what’s happening at that point.  The other useful part of the plastic flags is that they’re clear, so they don’t cover up any text like the paper ones can.

So that’s just a couple of ways to use Post-Its.  Do you guys use them?  How do you use them?

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