The Discipline of Note-Taking

19 Feb

We’ll be posting our notes on note-taking throughout the day today, beginning with Jeannette’s.  Come back later to find out how Christine and Christina Joy manage their unassigned assignments.  Don’t forget to check out our host, Adriana, and all the links she supplies to our WEM classmates.

Discipline.   When you are a kid you hate it.   When you are an adult you hate it too, at times, but realize its necessity.

Note-taking felt like a discipline at first.   Susan Wise Bauer’s suggestion of keeping a journal, summarizing each chapter and keeping lists of characters seemed onerous.  But now that we are well into the list, I can see the wisdom behind her suggestion.  It IS helpful to look back and find out what happened without having to read the entire book or chapter over again.  It DOES help you spot trends and important information.  It DOES help keep your mind from wandering (or at least force you to re-read if your mind has wandered so that you can actually write a chapter summary.)

Adriana has already given us quite a few ideas about note-taking over at Classical Quest. Here are a few additional random things that may have worked for us, in no particular order.  Since Adriana likes lists so much, we might as well continue that here!

1.  Get an inspiring notebook.   Find one that you enjoy seeing on your table, one with a cover that intrigues you, or one with quality paper.   Mine (Jeannette) has a leather cover with a cord to wrap around it for closing.   To me it feels decadent…my own personal indulgence.  Journaling in this book is a privilege!

2.  Jot down page numbers (or locations if using a Kindle) when something feels important, along with a brief description.  You may not know why it is important at the time, but trust your instincts.  Most of my blog posts have come from these things that have jumped out at me while reading.

3.  Stick with the character lists!  I got lazy with them for awhile, but have returned to them.   It’s amazing what I can forget in the course of one novel.   I also use this for a convenient spot to write down additional information about the character as the novel runs its course such as what he/she wants.

4.  Mark quotes you love.  If I’m reading in an “actual” book, I fold down page corners when I find quotes I love.   It’s my book, so I can if I want to!  (That’s the first child in me responding to parental voices in my head about desicrating books.)   At the end I go back and re-read all my favorite quotes, and if I (or anyone else) ever picks the book up again, they can see the quotes I enjoyed as well!   (Not expecting to pick up Portrait of a Lady ever again…but we’ll see.)


Posted by on February 19, 2013 in The Blog


7 responses to “The Discipline of Note-Taking

  1. Adriana

    February 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Thank you so much Jeanette! This is very helpful. I could really benefit from creating better character lists. Sometimes you share the most amazing insights about characters and I’m sure its due in part to your thoroughness in this area.

    And as for marking in books and folding down corners — this has taken me ever so long to feel comfortable doing! I too am a conscientious first born who has spent the greater part of my life protecting my books from the tiniest crinkle. It was really liberating when the back fell off of my paper back copy of The Portrait of a Lady (which was new when I started). A whole new world!!! 😀

  2. Jeannette

    February 19, 2013 at 9:47 am

    You are welcome, Adriana. And thank you for your compliment. I’m blushing. 🙂

    First children have so many funny quirks, don’t they?! Maybe to totally overcome my “fears” I should go ahead and RIP off the back cover of my copy of POAL. I might just do that. Tomorrow.

  3. Ruth @ An Experiment with the Well-Educated Mind

    February 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I saw that Fanda has elaborate character lists, too, and I am beginning to feel like I am missing something. Now I am starting to panic! But in all seriousness, this is an area I have completely neglected, and after reading your post, Jeannette, and Fanda’s, on character lists, I seriously am thinking ways to incorporate a detailed character list.

  4. Fanda

    February 20, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Right now I work on character list only to help me when I read from ebook, and the book has a lot of characters, but now maybe I’d think of doing that for paperbacks too.

  5. Tonia

    February 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Def. agree on the character lists – there’s always a moment when I forget who someone is and I need to refer back to the list!


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