Malcolm Gladwell must have a good filing system.
In the 1990s, the bestselling author visited the small town of Roseto to find out why the locals were living longer, healthier lives than most Americans.
He spent the afternoon doing interviews and taking notes for a feature story, but he had to drop it when he learned there was already a book about Roseto.
He forgot about the story until many years later when he needed a strong opening for a new book he was writing. Roseto would be perfect, he thought.
Fifteen years after his visit, Gladwell used Roseto to open his third bestseller, Outliers.
Not only had he kept his interview tapes and notes all that time but he also knew where to find them.
A good filing system is a wondrous thing.
It’s also the backbone of habit two for easier and better writing.
Habit Two: Bring something back.
Writing is easier and better when you commit to Habit One: Go into the territory every day.
Once you’re there on a regular basis, you’ll start seeing sparks of inspiration everywhere.
Then it’s time to bring something back.
A quote you like, words and phrases that fit with your voice, just-right headings, and articles to springboard off with your own insights.
These raw materials give you a start on your work before you actually start writing.
The key is to have your own system for saving and then filing.
I save potential material in the notebook on my phone. Once a week, I file it on Airtable, a digital database with easy-to-use spreadsheets/tables (free for solo users).
That might work for you – it might not.
The best system is the one that works for you.
Most of all, be prepared to hang on to the good stuff indefinitely. Or at least for fifteen years.
Five Simple Writing Habits
These writing habits help with focus, overwhelm and distraction. They are the habits I lean on to be better, happier and more confident with my writing. I’ve written about each in a short series of blog posts.
- Habit One: Go into the territory every day.
- Habit Two: Bring something back (the habit covered here).
- Habit Three: Write anyway
- Habit Four: Ask, what’s next?
- Habit Five: Believe.
I’ve also created a free one-page reminder for you to download and print.
Here’s to happier writing and content creation. Your voice matters.
Feel free to get in touch to talk about how I can help you, firstname.lastname@example.org
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