Sometimes I think the brains of writers are wired differently than others. Writing notes and keeping myself organized with lists seems to be a deeply rooted part of my regular routine.


In my journalism course at Durham College, in order to pass our second year, we had to write a certain number of different types of stories, for the college’s newspaper ‘The Chronicle’, by the end of the semester. These included small brief stories, police stories, council stories, routine event stories, and major issues. In order to make sure I was on track to finish all of the requirements, I created a story-type chart I regularly updated to keep track of what I had completed.


Nowadays, at work, I keep a weekly checklist of stories I’m working on for every edition of the newspaper.


My cellphone is also filled with electronic notes like Caped Cearnsader column ideas I’ve come up with for later, ideas I might use to write a novel someday, a list of songs I heard on the radio and might want to listen to later, a list of words I might want to incorporate into my writing at some point, and names and information I collected for a photograph’s cutline, the information below the photo in the newspaper.


I also keep a notebook near my bed just in case I come up with a possible writing idea or want to make a reminder note for myself before I sleep or in the middle of the night.


My work notebooks are filled with lists of questions I came up with to ask while I’m conducting interviews.


Potential future hockey team forward and defence lines? Yep, there’s a large pile of scrawled notes in my basement for that.
When municipalities used to offer printed paper council agendas, I would commonly make notes on them as to what reports could be interesting for a news story or which reports were discussed during a council meeting.


To some, my desk may look chaotic because of papers and sticky notes being all over the place. But all of these things are just part of my regular process.