Organization

Da
David G.
Posts: 138
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Platform: Mac

Fri May 03, 2019 5:56 pm Post

huguatrix wrote:David, I'm glad the Masterlist doc may be of use. Again, I don't know who created it. I can see that having some sort of map or filter for Scrivener commands and techniques would be useful (or for any app). I find myself resorting to searching in the Help menu to find that command whose steps I've forgotten.
Yes, I have lived in fear of the day when I will have to track my submissions, revisions and the general who, what. where, and when of the business part of writing. As I see it, the MasterList template could help with that.
huguatrix wrote:Of course I now must go explore all these apps you're all mentioning. Thank you so much. ;-) (Sometimes this, er, explorative bent is a strength. Really.)
Yes, everyone has their own personal favorite apps. As you mentioned it, I will say a little more about my favorite apps as they apply to my writing environment.

ACT! is no longer made for the Mac platform. It may have folded for the Windows environment too, not sure. The basic idea of PIM (Personal Information Manager) is to view a company or a contact record and to see in one place all the calls you logged to or from a contact, emails you sent, attachments, proposals, etc. While I still would like to see something like ACT! again, there are still PIM applications out on the market for the Mac. I finally realized that it was yet another distraction to worry so much about it as the basic organizational idea in a PIM is to have everything accessible from a company or a contact. I wanted everything accessible from a project.

TaskPaper is on of my favorite applications. I don't even use TaskPaper for the way it was designed. The producer of Taskpaper, Jessie, also develops and sells an application that is just for writing. TaskPaper was developed for text based calendar and to do lists. But I have discovered it does a great deal more than that. I don't use TaskPaper for calendar dates - although you could.

TaskPaper (TP) has a sidebar similar to Scrivener. Scrivener uses command-option-B to open and close the binder. TP uses command-option-S to open and close the sidebar. TP is text based so you can't put an image in a TP document. TP uses tags that you can create as you wish. A tag in TP can either be used in a search or, can create customized formatting in the paragraph it is a part of. TP uses something similar to a .css file (.less file) to alter every aspect of the text in a TP document you can think of. And, you can easily create more than one .less file to alter your writing environment moods.

TaskPaper was invaluable when I had to slog through years of records with the VA (US Veterans Administration). When I came across a term I wanted to further research at a later date, I simply created a tag for that item. Then clicking on one of those tags or, creating a search on that tag and putting the search in the sidebar, mad a difficult task much easier to organize.

HoudahSpot is a very nice application for finding almost anything on your Mac. You can save your searches as templates in the Sidebar in HoudahSpot. HoudahSpot also uses command-option-S to open and close the sidebar. I have found that creating a tag for a project or the various stages of a project, allows me to save a search in HoudahSpot that only focuses on my saved tag set pertaining to that project. This also means that you can export a HoudahSpot template (saved search) as a stand alone file. So, for example, when I have a big project I can place a HoudahSpot search file in that project. You can also open HoudahSpot and used the saved search, but, with the separate search file, clicking on that search file in your project folder will open Houdahspot to the saved search for your project.

I am also a fan of Keyboard Maestro. KM is a powerful macro application for the Mac. You can get as complex with a macro as you like. But it has also made it pretty easy for me to set up processes on my mac and make custom tweaks. For example, I use more than one monitor. One monitor is set to vertical orientation, one to horizontal. Through my day, and in the evening when I want to watch a movie, I move my running applications from one screen to another, depending on my focus at the moment. This is easily done with a simple KM macro. With two function keys, I can move and resize an app form my vertical monitor to my horizontal monitor, and back again.

This has come in handy. HoudahSpot will show its results form a search in a list of as a visual representation of a document. When I am not sure what I am looking for, then I will open a search in HoudaSpot, select an item from the list, and ht the spacebar for a quick look window. A quicklook window will behave like any other window. All I have to do is open the HS search, hit spacebar for the quicklook window, and select the appropriate “window move” macro key. Et voila, the quicklook window is now full screen. I can then arrow up or down the rest of the list in HS while viewing the results in the fit to window sized quicklook.

And, just to mention it, I like Typinator very much. I had Text Expander for years. It crashed too often for my tastes and it had a slow speed in the way it was accessing system resources. I think they also went subscription based if I an not mistaken, a deal breaker for some. Typinator is fast, stable, and can do quite a bit if you start learning to customize additional scripts. Not necessary but, it’s there if you want to. And of course, it is not subscription based.

Oh yes, forgot to put up a link to NVAlt. It is free, and it is brilliant. I am composing this response in NVAlt right now.

TaskPaper https://www.taskpaper.com
HoudahSpot https://www.houdah.com/houdahSpot/
Keyboard Maestro http://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/
Typinator https://www.ergonis.com/products/typinator/
NVAlt https://brettterpstra.com/projects/nvalt/

mb
mbbntu
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Sat May 04, 2019 9:01 am Post

David G. wrote:I noticed right away that Scrivener has a compile feature so naturally I assumed that writing AND formatting were an important part of the Scrivener writing experience. Why else would Scrivener focus on how a document is compiled, with proper formatting, etc.?

The point is that a lot of formatting can be handled by the Compiler when the work is finished, so you don't need to do it while you are writing. If you want an example of how this works, you can download a copy of the Scrivener manual as a Scrivener project (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/learn-and-support/user-guides -- note that you have to scroll right down to the bottom of the drop-down to see the zip file) and observe there is not much formatting evident when compared with the pdf version which is compiled from it.

This concept of "write now, format later" seems to fit with a modern trend of working that sees a lot of people use Mardown or LaTeX with an eye to putting the text through some sort of application or processor (e.g. pandoc or Marked) that will give the final output. Indeed, there is a whole section of the forum (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=21) devoted to this way of working. Impressive, but it is not for the faint-hearted!
You should judge people not by how close they get to the top, but by how far they have come from the bottom. Some people have a mountain to climb just to get to the place where others start out. (Me, 2010)

Da
David G.
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Sat May 04, 2019 1:58 pm Post

mbbntu wrote:This concept of "write now, format later" seems to fit with a modern trend of working that sees a lot of people use Mardown or LaTeX with an eye to putting the text through some sort of application or processor (e.g. pandoc or Marked) that will give the final output. Indeed, there is a whole section of the forum (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=21) devoted to this way of working. Impressive, but it is not for the faint-hearted!
I see. That might explain the inflexibility of some not wanting to hear about gathering all of the formatting tools together in a place- even when that would be far easier for someone with learning disabilities.

Personally, I very much dislike Markdown. Why clutter up the writer’s interface with added code that will eventually make the text layout the way you intended it to be in the first place? This is a computer. Why not just format the way you want it to look the first time? Honestly, I do not understand this logic.

I have made websites before. I understand that there is a reason to write using HTML, CSS, or other web formatting text styles. This is done so that a web browser can read the added code and, your output on a web page will be as you had intended it to look. But, to send someone a document to review, add comments on, revise, let alone to print in a document filled with markdown characters and not actually formatted correctly … makes no sense to me. To my thinking, writing a document in a word processor, or in Scrivener, should look like what you are actually writing.

I guess I have been through too many meetings that went on far too long making sure that every inch of a proposal document was clearly stated, pink team review, blue team review, all the way to final gold team review and delivery to the client. I have spent too many hours picking apart the correct line spacing, the correct font, and ensuring the same voice was used throughout the document writing, editing, and especially, paying attention to the correct formatting.

I have no problem if other people like to work without formatting. TaskPaper is also an application that people who are fond of Markdown use. Fortunately, with TaskPaper’s implementation of (external) .less files which act on text similar to a .css file, I am able to write in plain text and at the same time, control formatting. But, a true devotee of an idea will sometimes have little tolerance for other people’s points of view.

I think the term "devoted" is key here. I am reminded of fundamentalist thinking. This is normally associated with extreme or conservative religious ideas. Although it must be said that not all religiously minded people are of such a mind. Neither are all persons who might consider themselves traditionalist or fundamentalist of such a mind.

A person who identifies as an atheist can be just as dogmatic and inflexible about the certainty that the theistic belief generating mechanism, that is the grey matter between their ears, is superior to another person’s theistic "God". Both the fundamentalist and the true atheist are "devoted" to a dogmatic believe that nothing is better for anyone else than what they believe works for their particular world view. This thinking of the "devotee" says that, if it works for me and my group agrees with me, then it should work for everybody, end of discussion. I see some similarities with this way of thinking and with the adherents to the, “thou shall not format when writing” set.

Computers, allow for multiple choices in the same space. We each have to find our own path and, our own way. Were it not so, the libraries in the world might contain just a single volume and nothing more. Why write so many books? Don't you realize that a single book has already been written? Why be a writer, if you really think like that? Either make all books exactly like that first book, or stop writing.

Some write using Markdown, some write using formatting, some write using mind maps, some write using outlines, some write without an outline, some write using long hand in notebooks, some write using a large whiteboard on their walls, some write thoughts in the sand and work them out later. Instead of blocking each others creative writing styles, with such a grande app as Scrivener, why not edify each other. That is, why not lift up and support each others styles of writing? Of course, there is always that one book already written … ;-)

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lunk
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Sat May 04, 2019 5:02 pm Post

David G. wrote:Instead of blocking each others creative writing styles, with such a grande app as Scrivener, why not edify each other. That is, why not lift up and support each others styles of writing

Absolutely, but why assume that there should be one tool that fits all styles and views on how to write? A carpenter doesn’t use one tool for all his work, and neither a universal tool like a swiss army knife. A good carpenter uses the best tool for each thing he wants to do.

Scrivener is one tool, not the only one and not a universal tool to replace all other tools.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, running different OS.
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

Da
David G.
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Sat May 04, 2019 6:40 pm Post

lunk wrote:Absolutely, but why assume that there should be one tool that fits all styles and views on how to write?
I have not made such an assumption. I have only suggested that Scrivener could be improved regarding the tool set that Scrivener already possesses.
lunk wrote:A carpenter doesn’t use one tool for all his work, and neither a universal tool like a swiss army knife. A good carpenter uses the best tool for each thing he wants to do.

Scrivener is one tool, not the only one and not a universal tool to replace all other tools.
Some people don't like to hear that someone else sees the way to use Scrivener as a writing tool differently than they do. This is the dogmatism that I was referring to earlier in this thread. Such a person might say that. "I am happy" with Scrivener the way it is and, "we are happy" with Scrivener the way it is. Therefore, "your attempt" to suggest that Scrivener be improved, "is an invalid opinion to me".

I am also a fan of using Scrivener. I am well aware of its uses as you suggested, "A good carpenter uses the best tool for each thing he wants to do.". A better question would be, should a left handed person be ignored because a tool was meant to fit only right handed people? For example, we could debate endlessly why some countries put the drivers wheel on the right side of the vehicle and others on the left. While some may enjoy such arguments for the sake of enjoying the argument, I am not one of those people. It matters little to me how another person or persons uses the same tool as I do. But, it does matter to me that my voice is heard to offer a simple suggestion.

As this thread is about organization and the different ways we each approach the challenges in organization are met, perhaps we could leave it at that?

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kewms
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Sat May 04, 2019 10:25 pm Post

David G. wrote:I guess I have been through too many meetings that went on far too long making sure that every inch of a proposal document was clearly stated, pink team review, blue team review, all the way to final gold team review and delivery to the client. I have spent too many hours picking apart the correct line spacing, the correct font, and ensuring the same voice was used throughout the document writing, editing, and especially, paying attention to the correct formatting.


You're conflating two different topics here, though. The "voice" of a document is completely independent of the font and the line spacing. It's not the subject matter expert's job to decide what font to use, and it's not the graphic designer's job to make sure the key messages are clearly stated. It's a waste of the subject matter expert's time to even attend the design meetings, and likewise the graphic designer is only peripherally involved in actually developing the content.

I don't think anyone ever suggested sending raw Markdown code to editors and other reviewers.

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Da
David G.
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Sat May 04, 2019 10:38 pm Post

kewms wrote:You're conflating two different topics here, though.
Not really. I am simply stating how this experience of writing applies to me. I apologize if my meaning was not understood. I was simply sharing some of my own experience as a writer, and how I tend to associate ideas with formatting cues when I am writing.

This thread is about organization specific to how others are working with Scrivener and how different organizational systems and ideas affect a person's individual style of writing. If you prefer a different style of writing, please feel free to chime in about what works for you. I am interested in how others work.

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devinganger
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Sun May 05, 2019 8:41 am Post

David G. wrote:That might explain the inflexibility of some not wanting to hear about gathering all of the formatting tools together in a place- even when that would be far easier for someone with learning disabilities.


One of the things that makes Scrivener very different from other writing tools is that it has a very strong, and very non-standard, set of principles that guide how it is developed and used.

* Assembling a larger document from a collection of smaller documents. This is core to the whole Scrivener experience. It's not a monolithic document like a Word document. It's a collection of small documents that you can easily add, remove, move, edit, change, search, label, add keywords, group into Collections, take snapshots of, and generally work with as you see fit. During compile time, Scrivener will stitch your selected documents together for you according to the compiler configuration you have designated.

* Divorce the working format (what the writer sees) from the final format (what the Compiler produces). When we as writers create documents, we usually are not creating them in a void. Our output goes to someone else's desk as input, in many cases. That input has specific requirements about how it must be formatted -- standard manuscript format, standard script format, PDF, Epub, etc. Yet forcing writers to think about that final format during every stage of the writing process creates inefficiency -- AND actually makes it harder for writers with disabilities. If I have vision problems, having to look at 12-point Courier (or variant) all day might be very difficult. With Scrivener, I can separate the formatting I use *while writing* (to something larger, in a soothing color, in a very personal typeface) from the format the Compiler will apply to the finished document (standard manuscript format -- nobody needs to know I wrote my story in 30 point pink Comic Sans).

* Allow the user to retrieve their data using standard tools if something goes wrong. This is why Scrivener's file format looks like a folder with a bunch of RTF and XML files -- because that's exactly what it is (although on MacOS this is abstracted out to what is called a "package file") and that is a good thing. If something goes wrong, you don't need Scrivener -- you can use your file explorer and local RTF editor to retrieve your data.

David G. wrote:Personally, I very much dislike Markdown. Why clutter up the writer’s interface with added code that will eventually make the text layout the way you intended it to be in the first place? This is a computer. Why not just format the way you want it to look the first time? Honestly, I do not understand this logic.


And you don't have to like Markdown, or ever use it, in order to use Scrivener. But those who *do* prefer it can use an optional set of Compilation configuration to run their document through markdown, Pandoc, LaTeX, or other post-processors that they have configured to apply their *preferred* final format automatically.

David G. wrote:But, to send someone a document to review, add comments on, revise, let alone to print in a document filled with markdown characters and not actually formatted correctly … makes no sense to me.


Ah, but you wouldn't necessarily send them the raw Scrivener project. You'd Compile it first...and the compile configurations you've selected would take care of applying the proper formatting.

David G. wrote:To my thinking, writing a document in a word processor, or in Scrivener, should look like what you are actually writing.


According to its core principles, Scrivener *is not a word processor*. While there is overlap in functionality, there are things you would do in Scrivener that you can't do in a word processor, and vice versa. Scrivener specifically was designed to not use WYSIWYG as a core design principle. If that's what you need, there are other writing tools out there that provide that facility.

David G. wrote:I guess I have been through too many meetings that went on far too long making sure that every inch of a proposal document was clearly stated, pink team review, blue team review, all the way to final gold team review and delivery to the client. I have spent too many hours picking apart the correct line spacing, the correct font, and ensuring the same voice was used throughout the document writing, editing, and especially, paying attention to the correct formatting.


One of the most common complaints I've run into using Word over the course of my career is how fragile Word documents are. It was much worse until Microsoft upgraded to the .DOCX format -- I was writing documents *for the Office group at Microsoft* in .DOC format that would regularly get corrupted and nobody there could figure out why. When working with specialized templates that pre-provided every style they would ever need, writers would *still* manually format sentences or parts of sentences instead of just applying the proper styles. They couldn't help themselves. Over the lifecycle of the document, those portions of the documents would cause more and more problems until someone ended up having to strip out all the text in that area into Notepad, then put it back in and re-apply the styles. And hope they'd gotten it right.

The point is, there is a large population of people who are willing to sacrifice some level of stability in their document in order to have total control over how it looks at all stages of its lifecycle. There is also a large population of people who want their tools to enforce a separation between the structure of the document and the final formatting of the document. Scrivener is written for that latter population -- and if that doesn't include you, then you may not be in the target population for Scrivener. (And that's not a bad thing and definitely not an attack -- I've tried a bunch of software over the years that worked in ways that I just couldn't or didn't want to get used to!)

David G. wrote:I have no problem if other people like to work without formatting. TaskPaper is also an application that people who are fond of Markdown use. Fortunately, with TaskPaper’s implementation of (external) .less files which act on text similar to a .css file, I am able to write in plain text and at the same time, control formatting. But, a true devotee of an idea will sometimes have little tolerance for other people’s points of view.


But they're not working without formatting. They're simply applying the formatting at a different stage of the process, and they're trusting in the computer -- an automated process -- to uniformly apply the correct formatting based on the hints they've given in the text.

David G. wrote:I think the term "devoted" is key here. I am reminded of fundamentalist thinking. This is normally associated with extreme or conservative religious ideas. Although it must be said that not all religiously minded people are of such a mind. Neither are all persons who might consider themselves traditionalist or fundamentalist of such a mind.


Do have a care here, please. There is a difference between having a strongly held belief *because* you've worked through the alternatives and being closed to other beliefs without having considered them. Many of us in the Scrivener camp are here precisely because we came through the wilderness looking for a program that did things in a different way.

David G. wrote:Computers, allow for multiple choices in the same space. We each have to find our own path and, our own way. Were it not so, the libraries in the world might contain just a single volume and nothing more. Why write so many books? Don't you realize that a single book has already been written? Why be a writer, if you really think like that? Either make all books exactly like that first book, or stop writing.


So the same with computer *software*. Scrivener does not enforce its principles across all writers, only on those who accept them. Would it not be dogmatic to force one's choices of how a particular software package should work on others, especially when there are already so many packages that do work more in that fashion already?
--
Devin L. Ganger, WA7DLG
Not a L&L employee; opinions are those of my cat
Life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes

mb
mbbntu
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Sun May 05, 2019 10:16 am Post

@David G. Just to take things back to the problem of organisation and memory again, you might find it valuable to read this blog post: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/zettelkasten-improves-thinking-writing/.

The methodology is not for everyone, but it is probably worth knowing about it if you are searching for solutions. At worst, you can discount is as not suitable.

Cheers, Martin.
You should judge people not by how close they get to the top, but by how far they have come from the bottom. Some people have a mountain to climb just to get to the place where others start out. (Me, 2010)

Da
David G.
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Sun May 05, 2019 3:55 pm Post

devinganger wrote:Divorce the working format (what the writer sees) from the final format (what the Compiler produces). When we as writers create documents, we usually are not creating them in a void. Our output goes to someone else's desk as input, in many cases. That input has specific requirements about how it must be formatted -- standard manuscript format, standard script format, PDF, Epub, etc. Yet forcing writers to think about that final format during every stage of the writing process creates inefficiency -- AND actually makes it harder for writers with disabilities. If I have vision problems, having to look at 12-point Courier (or variant) all day might be very difficult. With Scrivener, I can separate the formatting I use *while writing* (to something larger, in a soothing color, in a very personal typeface) from the format the Compiler will apply to the finished document (standard manuscript format -- nobody needs to know I wrote my story in 30 point pink Comic Sans).
I see the basic problem here. I have not made my meaning clear and, that is entirely my fault. The term “formatting” seems to have a different meaning in the way it has been received and in the way that I had meant it to be. This has led to arguments that I am somehow not satisfied with how Scrivener is and that I am somehow wanting to change Scrivener into something it is not. I can assure you, this was never my intent, to change how Scrivener does things.

When I discussed adding a formatting side bar or a formatting pallet, what I was doing was to suggest that the tools that Scrivener already possesses could be much easier to use - for me anyway. Scrivener already does all of this. I was merely trying to suggest that remembering what adjustment is in which menu or submenu is a hinderance to my staying in the “zone” and concentrating on my writing. I am NOT making the suggestion that Scrivener should start using formatting like Word uses formatting.

This gets into a little more personal information than I am entirely comfortable sharing here on such a public forum but, I now believe that unless I share a little more about where I am coming from, sharing from my own unique perspectives as it were, then my meaning will continue to be taken the wrong way.

Of course, not all disabilities are the same. I suffered more than one head injury years ago in the service. My records were lost for years and were only recently discovered. Now it is medically recognized that I do in fact have a very difficult time with sequencing and with memory. I am still highly intelligent. I am still determined to get my first book out.

I need visual cues to work. I have worked with Occupational Therapists (OT), professional organizers, and more … It is well documented that I have these challenges. I suppose I can feel a little defensive when I feel I have to explain why I see things the way I do. My apologies to anyone if I came across that way. It’s just that, I have absolutely no desire to have to justify my handicap to others.

Please let me repeat myself here. When I say formatting, I am referring to making the text I am writing more readable for me while I am writing it. Formatting as I am using the term only applies to my own strong need for visually organizing my writing as I am writing. It is a challenge for my brain to make sense out of too much unformatted text. The formatting, actually helps my comprehension of the writing process.

Returning to this thread’s OP on organizational challenges, when I have a stack of papers on my desk, I very quickly can't remember that anything is in that stack. The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is unfortunately quite literally true for me. Similarly, I carry small notebooks with me and record notes to my self. Hand written notes are always the fastest link between the mind and the inspiration - even with routine information such as writing down an address, phone contact, etc. But, it is very difficult to go back into a notebook’s hand written notes and find information again - beyond the last pages I used.

I also make extensive use of having the Mac read back what I have written. I use it so often that I set up a KeyboardMaestro trigger to start a macro for speaking the selected text or, to stop speaking when I find an error to correct or a section to rewrite. When my words are read back to me and I follow along with what I am editing, I will find that I have used an incorrect spelling, repeated the occasional small word, or had not made my meaning clear.

I like writing things out on the whiteboard. It helps my visual thinking process. Even better, what I write on a whiteboard is not going to get misfiled as a scrap of paper might. So long as I copy the idea into my working project of course. I just went to Lowes, a US building supply chain (Home Depot, etc.). I picked up a whole whiteboard panel 8 ft, by 4 ft. Now I have all the room I could ask for for visual brainstorms.

Using the Mac is tremendously helpful to me and my organizational challenges. TaskPaper helps me to draft an idea. It does not actually format, but it does allow me to fake formatting which makes my brain very happy and well functioning during my writing process.

Once again, all of this explanation that I have just given, is meant to return us to the OP idea of organizational challenges.

Da
David G.
Posts: 138
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Sun May 05, 2019 4:03 pm Post

mbbntu wrote:@David G. Just to take things back to the problem of organisation and memory again, you might find it valuable to read this blog post: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/zettelkasten-improves-thinking-writing/.

The methodology is not for everyone, but it is probably worth knowing about it if you are searching for solutions. At worst, you can discount is as not suitable.

Cheers, Martin.
Thanks. I will look at that. On the surface it seems to have good information about the writing and thinking processes. Right now I am concentrating on the structure of my book as in; who, what, when, where, how, and why.

With my organizational challenges, it is not enough to write the story, I also have to organize it so that its parts have a logical and a coherent flow to them. This is by far the most difficult part of the writing process for me.

Having the large whiteboard seems to help as I can now write out what I am thinking.

Ji
JimRac
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Sun May 05, 2019 4:50 pm Post

@David, thank you for starting this fascinating discussion. Organization is currently near and dear to my heart. I am writing the first draft of a massive first novel, and managing my equally massive worldbuilding notes has become impossible. I can’t find anything.
mbbntu wrote:@David G. Just to take things back to the problem of organisation and memory again, you might find it valuable to read this blog post: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/zettelkasten-improves-thinking-writing/.

The methodology is not for everyone, but it is probably worth knowing about it if you are searching for solutions. At worst, you can discount is as not suitable.

Cheers, Martin.
This looks promising, thank you so much for sharing it!

Best,
Jim
I’m just a customer.

Da
David G.
Posts: 138
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Sun May 05, 2019 6:46 pm Post

JimRac wrote:@David, thank you for starting this fascinating discussion. Organization is currently near and dear to my heart. I am writing the first draft of a massive first novel, and managing my equally massive word building notes has become impossible. I can’t find anything.
I feel your pain. One thing that I am now doing is using NVAlt for my word list. NVAlt can either save documents in it’s own structure or, my personal favorite, store its documents in individual text files - one document per note in NVAlt. What I have done is to take the external text file that NVAlt is using to store my word list and give it a meaningful tag.

Then, I have HoudahSpot set up to have saved searches on various tagged items. Doing this helps to keep my mind somewhat sane. It is maddening to want to find something that I have used before, such as a word list, and, I can't remember where I put it. Sadly, this happens to me all the time. With this method at least I can now easily find my word list from a saved HoudahSpot search template. Then, it is easy to open my word list to look at the key words I was last using and add to the list when I need to.

All of this points to the idea that on a modern mac, I might want a single app that does it all, but in truth, what I really need to do is to use the applications that best help me to organize and then to fulfill my writing project.

TaskPaper is great for my organization of a rough draft.
Scrivener is great for working through my project once it becomes too unwieldy for TaskPaper to handle alone.
Nisus is great for creating a proper document format for output. Scrivener may fulfill this eventually but at this point, I have no experience in using the compile feature in Scrivener.
HoudahSpot is great for saving searches that I will use to focus on the parts of my project.

By the use of tags, I can keep track of all the parts of my writing process. Using HoudahSpot, instead of having to remember my tags and locating items that I have already forgotten, I can easily summon up all the parts I am working on in a single list.

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Sun May 05, 2019 8:15 pm Post

Oh, now this thread is getting interesting!

First, @David G., thank you for your honesty. With your disclosure, I understand more of your point of view. I have ADHD and share many of your disability's symptoms. Much of the blather (sorry, folks, but that's how it sounds to me) about Distraction Free Writing just doesn't apply to me. My brain generates its own distractions regardless of how stark my computer/tablet/phone screen may be; I need a target-rich visual environment. I need to deploy as much as possible that's related to my task at hand, so that when distraction happens (inevitable) it lands on something task-related. Otherwise, my attention will wander from the (stark, boring, "non-distracting") screen and I'll find myself two hours later in the living room taking care of some paperwork that needed doing and wondering WTF happened to my dedicated writing time. I too want as much as possible of the structure of my Scrivener project on view at all times. I suffer from "out of sight, out of mind" as well, though perhaps not to your extreme. I'm not comfortable with memorising elaborate keyboard shortcuts; I know the basics, and have a few I've constructed (mostly assigned to bare function keys), but in general they're something I look up and use when I have a specific repetitive task and forget about after.

In short, I live on the toolbar, the formatting bar, and the menus in Scrivener, and the composition mode is anathema. It's not a way of working that appeals to many. Now that I know there are more folks like me out there, I'll be sure to share any tips I may have on keeping stuff visually available!

On to the organisation of ancillary material: Thank you @mbbntu for bringing up the concept of zettelkasten. This is how I use premium-level Evernote and is why I cling to it. I just didn't have a name for it. :D

Basically, I use Evernote for everything in my life, I don't use categories, much; categorisation is a blank spot in my mental arsenal. It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to decide what category something belongs in, and when I look it up I'll like as not look in the wrong category. So I'm cool with the zettelkasten philosophy there! 95% of my (vast) Evernote database lives in either Stuff or Writing. If something is for a particular project and I know that when I (look it up/make a note) I'll tag it. I keep my number of tags down, too, and trim them occasionally.

Why Evernote premium? Two things: search by handwriting recognition, and what Evernote calls "Context". Handwriting recognition lets me take snapshots of my white boards or scrawled paper notes and put them into Evernote in searchable form. I also publish handwritten pages in an iOS note taking app (I use Noteshelf) to Evernote. These are then searchable by Evernote's excellent search function. I need to remember to keep my writing horizontal (hard; Before Evernote, I had handwritten scrawls going off at odd angles into death spirals) and legible to another human (if another human can't read it, Evernote sure can't). But with these restrictions, I can make notes in whatever form I need (I'm with you on whiteboards, @David G.) and avoid laborious transcription into typed text. (Note: Black or blue gives the best recognition. Red is iffy, and Evernote's recognition totally ignores green.)

Evernote Context automates the cross-referencing. According to many, DevonThink does a better job of this and I might be tempted, but… handwriting. Seriously. If there's a boring chore to do like transcribing handwriting to get something into my system (even if machine-assisted), it won't get done.
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Sun May 05, 2019 10:21 pm Post

Nearly two decades ago I finished writing a book which, when published, ran to 560 pages with about 350 references to works that had been written in four different languages. It was written on a Mac PowerBook 180 using MS Word 5, and EndNote for the references. It took about eight years from beginning to end. It taught me a number of things -- 1) don't do that again; 2) put together what goes together (told to me by a teacher of mine, and one of the most valuable things I have ever heard). It took me about five years to hit on the idea of putting everything for chapter 1 in a folder called "Chapter 1", everything for chapter 2 in a folder called "Chapter 2", and so forth. I was considerably helped in my labours by the fact that I was writing a chronological history, which made it rather obvious that I ought to put snippets that I found in chronological order, with the date at the beginning of each snippet. (You can look rather foolish if you suggest that a person's decisions have been influenced by something that actually happened at a later date.) I can't remember how many years it took me to have that illumination, but it was probably several. Anyway, it leads me to the point that numbering things is not a bad way to go IF the material you are dealing with lends itself to that methodology. (One of the problems with history is that things do not just happen in sequence -- they can also happen contemporaneously, so I had quite a job to find new ways of saying "meanwhile" at the right moment -- but numbering snippets can still help.) Getting material in the right order has reduced me to a whimpering, exhausted troglodyte just about every time I have ever tried to write something. It is one of the reasons I tend to compose by writing a single idea on a single line, then two carriage returns before I write the next idea. Combining sentences into paragraphs is something I do at the last possible moment. Scrivener helps immensely in this, and I have even constructed pieces of writing by having a series of documents each consisting of only one line, which I move up and down in the Binder to get the right sequence. In the old days I used to do it with pieces of paper on the floor, which I moved into the right sequence. It seems that proper writers are not above using paper to plan things (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/apr/06/writers.rooms.will.self). But, as I keep saying, the PROCESS of finding what works for oneself is probably inescapable -- I do not believe it is exactly a process of *discovery*, but rather more a process by which a person gradually adapts themselves to an emerging methodology.

The Zettelkasten site is an extraordinary repository of ideas about how to manage knowledge work. I don't agree with all of them, and I don't really use the method myself, but I do use elements of it. You probably need to be a bit OCD (just to bring up another syndrome) to take it up completely, and I have heard it said that it can take a bit of work to maintain a Zettelkasten properly. But it is worth sifting the ideas for nuggets that may be useful. Numbering things is a big part of their system.

I've reached the age when my short-term memory is beginning to fail, so I have some insight into the problem. The concept of chunking is something I find useful -- it is generally reckoned that you can't reliably remember more than about seven items in a list, but if you break a long one up into smaller chunks you will do better. So I tend to go in for grouping things into collections that are not more than about half a dozen items. But I am very familiar with the "out of sight, not remembered" phenomenon. Very!!
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