my book in index cards

I came upon a box in my office today. It contained my book, or at least many chunks of it, in index cards. It looked like this:

bookincards

I think it looks beautiful.

I am not a very good writer. That is to say, words don’t fall off of my fingertips very easily. I am one of those writers who struggles with an internal editor, constantly trying to challenge every thought and word choice. Everyone who knows anything about writing knows you can write with a damn editor in your head; you have to shut up the editor, at least for a time, and get your thoughts out onto paper.

Easier said than done, for me. I have had to use many tricks to quiet my editor. For example, I started blogging to write daily and more comfortably. I have relied on a couple of valuable books on writing. But the one thing that helps the most is index cards. I write the topic sentence of each paragraph I want to write on a card, I number them in order, and I label them with the subhead of the section. I wrap an elastic hair band around them, and that’s a chapter of my book. For whatever reason, the editor in my head pipes down and lets me get down to business when it’s pen and cards rather than keyboard and screen.

3 thoughts on “my book in index cards”

  1. John McPhee is one of the best non-fiction writers around. I heard him in an interview once say something to the effect that in order to start writing he has to say to himself, “OK, today I’m going to put bad words on paper.”

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  2. Surprisingly I’ve never heard of index cards as a place to write down the series of events, and I’m pretty disorganized so I might use this idea! Thanks!
    Otherwise, though, sometimes you might think your writing is bad but always try to save a second draft so that even if you do decide to delete it, you still have it; what might seem abysmal at night might look better in the morning or following night

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