Make Your Workshop Notes Work for You

Workshop-NotesWho loves to take workshops? *Raising hand and waving it around!*

Who has random notes on paper that either get stuck in a desk and never looked at or thrown away? Who took notes on a computer but never accessed them or used the again?

How about we make what we learn from those workshops easily accessible and useful?

By taking the below steps you will maximize what you get out of each workshop because you are immediately incorporating it into your daily use. In addition, you’ll have those notes already organized and summarized with easy Search capabilities to quickly locate information.


Step 1: Where We Take Notes

Step number one is to bring a computer with you to every workshop, every time. You will rarely get a spare moment to transfer all those hand-written notes to your computer. Taking notes directly into your computer has the following benefits.

  • Saves you time transferring/makes sure your notes make it in to your computer
  • Mobile and more easily accessible from anywhere
  • Notes become searchable = more useful

*If you are a non-computer person (I know many authors who still prefer to hand-write), consider making a binder to hold your notes similar to how we set up Notebooks/Sections/Pages in OneNote.


Step 2: How We Take Notes

I’m going to use OneNote as my example. I use OneNote because it keeps my notes in one place (rather than opening multiple files) and is easily searchable. However this method can also apply to other note-taking apps/software as well as Word.

  1. Create a Notebook called “Workshops” (if you don’t frequent workshops often, then your workshop notes could be a Section in another notebook like “Writing”)
  2. Create a new Section for each workshop you take
  3. Create Pages for each topic in that workshop
  4. Type your notes directly on the pages


Step 3: Always Summarize & Follow Up

businessThe next step in taking your workshop notes is to summarize. You’ll want to do this immediately after finishing the class, while the material is still fresh in your mind. A summary can take several forms:

  1. Create a Page in that workshop Section with a summary of the information that stood out for you
  2. Add to any running “idea lists” or checklists you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  3. Add to any “process” notes you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  4. Favorite the important links or copy them into any link lists in OneNote
  5. Go take any actions that don’t involve notes:
    • Sign up for other suggested workshops you think you’d like
    • Purchase books or materials they suggested that you think you’d find useful
    • Research anything they mentioned (tools, book cover designers, editors, local book stores, you name it)
    • Check out links they mentioned as helpful (save them to your links list if you find them helpful)


Step 4: Create Usable/Repeatable Tools

If you really like a concept from a workshop, try to create a reusable template that you incorporate into each new book project as you start.

For example, after taking a “Save the Cat” workshop, I created a template for my personal use that breaks down the different beats, timing for those, has notes to remind me of important details, etc. I fill that template out for every book now.

If you have a template on that subject, add to it with any details that you feel you want to incorporate into every project you do.

KEY: when you start a new project, check through your lists, templates and the notes summaries to fresh those concept in your mind. You can also do this mid-project when a specific topic applies (like ideas for humor, or ideas to get past writer’s block, etc.). When stuck, reference your notes!


In Conclusion

You’ll be more likely to incorporate what you’ve leaned from your workshops you into your method if you consciously review your notes. Making your notes as easy as possible to review and use will make you more likely to do so.

Best of luck and enjoy those workshop!

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