Making Time For Writing – Numbering Your Notes

I love journaling.  I love the way it feels to make marks across a page with my pen and have those scribbles turn into words that make sense, if only to me. And occasionally, some of those words are pretty good.  Sometimes, I get into a writing “zone” and the images in my head are translated into words that truly communicate what my imagination sees.

Photo of spiral notebook showing page numbering

Number your notebook pages to save time.


Several weeks or months later, I can’t find that scrap of a story idea, the perfect phrase I knew I’d written or even a small description I’d like to use in a current writing project.  For several years (yes, I’ve been writing in journals since my early twenties!) I would search for these lost items and end up losing not only my writing time for the day, but thoughts, research items and more.  Leafing through old journals was fun, but not very time effective.

Then last year I found an idea so simple and clear I could have kicked myself for not doing it sooner.

In his book, Write Faster, Write Better, author David A. Frixell suggests numbering the pages of your notepad or journal.  Then, when you’re done writing for the day, jot down on a list at the front or back of your notebook your topic and the pages you’ll find it on.  This is particularly great when you’ve interviewed someone and need to use exact quotes from them in your writing project.

I tried it. It Works!

I have a spiral for my next novel, Sliced Vegetarian, and I started numbering the pages.  Now, instead of a twenty minute ramble though to-do lists, mind maps, and character sketches, I go to the list of topics and jump right to page 91-93 where I know I’ll find the plot line for Daisy and Sam Water’s relationship. Cool!


Another great thing about numbering pages is that  you can do this task while you’re watching television, waiting for the end of your kids’ piano lessons, or any time you have a spare one to three minutes.  You don’t have to use your precious writing time to do this.

Thanks Mr. Frixell.  You helped me tremendously.

And my reading friend, I hope this helps you.


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