Diary of a non-fiction book: Reading and making notes

Richard Cadbury (picture loaned to me by a member of the Cadbury family)

The writing part is going very slowly at the moment. This is because I’m still in reading mode and still only making notes.

What I do is, working in 25-minute Pomodoros, spend two Pomodoros reading and then one Pomodoro writing my interpretation of what I’ve just read. This way, it’s already in my own words for when I come to add to it or edit it.

As I read through the material, I use sticky tabs to mark the place, in case I want to refer to or include any specific facts or figures.

As I use that bit of material, I remove the sticky tab. By the time I reach the end of each book or source, all of the sticky tabs should be gone.

If I use a quotation from one of the books, I’ll type it into the document in Scrivener in italics and add the source at the end, in brackets and right-flush.

At the moment I’m struggling with indenting this on both sides in Scrivener, as it’s knocking all of my formatting out and it goes over the margin in the Word compile. In Word, I can easily bring it back to within the margins, but it’s an extra step I could do without having to do in Word. When I get a minute, I’ll see if there’s a workaround in Scrivener for this.

If I notice I’m using quite a lot of material from the same source, I’ll quickly Google the author to see when they died to work out if the book is still in copyright. If it is and I want to use this much material, I’ll set the wheels in motion for contacting the copyright holder or their estate or the publisher. (Copyright, or intellectual property, belongs to the creator and lasts for 75 years after the creator’s death.)

I’m moving the odd sticky tab to the top of the page rather than the side of the page if I spot a photograph or illustration I want to try and locate and use. Then this book will go onto a different pile. When the book or source is done with, it goes back into the crate or back on my shelf, depending on where the book came from.

All of the books I currently have are listed at the end of my file in blue. When I’ve finished with a book, I change the colour to black. If I don’t use anything from the book, I move it from “bibliography” to “further reading”.

The pile of books still to read is dwindling while the pile of books back in the crate is growing. And my pile of used sticky tabs is also growing. I’ll re-use them as many times as I can, but once the sticky goes, they’ll go in the bin.

At the moment I have 3,720 words written, all in note form. These will be embellished and added to in a later stage.

The next diary post will cover website research.