View Full Version : Just curious? - writing methods - index cards

03-09-2008, 08:17 AM
Does anyone use index cards to write?

Appalachian Writer
03-09-2008, 08:19 AM
I don't, as a rule, unless the piece required research and reference.

03-09-2008, 08:21 AM
Lots of people do. I haven't been very successful using them, yet I refuse to run out of them. There's something very "This is important, do not forget!" about an index card to me.

03-09-2008, 08:21 AM
I don't, but I had a bad experience with that method in grade school. Something about writing (and carefully sourcing) over a hundred cards and then losing them all to a schoolmate's spilled drink. Ever since then I've avoided the things.

Besides, they give some nasty paper cuts.


03-09-2008, 08:31 AM
I use my index fingers to write.

Ok, not really. But I do jot notes on index cards. :)

03-09-2008, 10:45 AM
I use index cards for EVERYTHING. I wear a large jacket, with eight pockets, plus my pants pockets, and my over-shirt pocket, making it a total of thirteen. Three of those are currently occupied by stacks of index cards. I never use them for actual writings of stories. But I will constantly use them for programming, game design, language-learning (esp. Japanese Kanji), to-do lists, line-learning for plays, and straight-out notes. I have one stack of them that has a large supply of writing exercises. I order them in masses, five packs of a hundred each at a time.
Sorry, I got a little caught up in my excitement over the subject. In short, yes, I do use index cards.


03-09-2008, 10:57 AM
I tried to, once. But I hate those things. Hatehatehate. It's so convenient to take out scenes and switch them with new ones that I never move past the planning stage. Plus, I have a habit of spilling sticky, colorful drinks on index cards. It's like I'm magnetically attracted to the spillage.

03-09-2008, 10:58 AM
I've been using index cards for the very first time, for the new WIP. I'm finding it a very cool approach.

A friend has been using index cards at the same time, also for a new WIP, and -- what we've done with them is totally different. I find that interesting.

03-09-2008, 12:06 PM
I'm using index cards to figure out the order everything will be in for the literary journal I'm editing. I've yet to use them for writing, although I know people who do.

03-09-2008, 12:46 PM
I have tried index cards. I've also tried post-it notes and other small paper things to keep notes on.

In the end, I go back to my unlined 3-hole punch paper where I can write anything I want in any order in as large or small handwriting as I want. I can get a ream of that paper for about $5 and I don't have to worry for a long, long time about writing paper.

That being said....

That's me. YMMV (Your Milage May Vary). Try them out. If they work, awesome. If they don't work, awesome. Either way, you'll either be able to add them to your bag-o-tricks or cross them off so that you know that's not a place to go.

Mr Flibble
03-09-2008, 12:56 PM
No, but maybe I should

I have a teetering stack of old envelopes/ post its/ bus tickets/ toilet paper ( ok not really) with things scrawled on them, and when I say scrawled, I mean even I have trouble reading them.

03-09-2008, 02:48 PM
Of course, what's most important to me, are my whiteboards. I've got four of them in my room. I also read a suggestion on this forum earlier today, about using dry erase on the bathroom mirror, which I will definitely try. It always helps to be able to spread your ideas out. And even more so, when erasing is a matter of a single wipe, rather than the work it takes with a pencil eraser.


03-09-2008, 05:07 PM
I bought a pack of blank index cards a few days ago for jotting down ideas. When I've accumulated a whole bunch I'll try to assemble them into a draft for a non-fiction book I'd like to write.

03-09-2008, 05:15 PM
Not as a rule but I have done for my current WIP. I've found them quite handy for seeing an overview of character arcs and trying out different structures.

Aggy B.
03-09-2008, 09:01 PM
Yes. But I haven't really figured out the best way to make it work for novels. All previous experience with index cards has been in the screenwriting arena. (I put a really long post about this over in Novel Writing about this yesterday if you're curious.)

The thing about index cards is that you can use them a number of different ways, jotting notes, tracking scenes/story arcs, tracking characters, quick referencing for chapter/scene actions. The list goes on. It really a question of figuring out how they work best for you.

I've tried using just sheets of paper and dumping everything out that way but the result was a bit overwhelming. I like cards because I am forced to break things up into bite-size pieces. (Incidentally, I prefer cards to post-it notes because they are a little sturdier. Post-it notes eventually become not-sticky and they tend to get crumpled.)

Just my $0.02.

03-10-2008, 10:58 AM
The thing about index cards is that you can use them a number of different ways, jotting notes, tracking scenes/story arcs, tracking characters, quick referencing for chapter/scene actions. The list goes on. It really a question of figuring out how they work best for you.


Linda Adams
03-10-2008, 02:24 PM
I tried it. I stopped before I went stark raving insane. It was part of an experiment to try different outlines to see what worked best for me; I was trying to solving a weak area with plotting. I found that I couldn't work with outlines. Though the index card one is the mostly widely recommended, it was the only one of the outline formats that I truly hated. The things that everyone else likes about it are the very things that I hated. I just couldn't deal with so many little pieces of paper.

03-10-2008, 03:43 PM
I wish I could be one of those organized people- But, I'm not- I end up writing the book in my notes! I wing it, but I have aslo had to go back and rewrite huge chunks because something doesn't jive later on- I don't outline either- just start writing- I buy notebooks and pens/pencils when I am at staples but I never use them-