Friday, May 17, 2013

Writing your book with authority

By Dennis Mellersh

Whether you are writing a book of fiction or non-fiction, one of the skills you will need to develop is the ability to write with authority. It’s the quality that makes any writing believable, and is an important aspect of learning how to write a book effectively.

If your writing does not have an authoritative tone, your readers will quickly realize it and your book will thereby lose much of its original appeal.

Once you learn to write well, you will gain confidence in your ability to communicate your ideas and the concepts you want to explore in your writing. In turn, your confidence in your ability gives you the ability to write authoritatively.

But probably the single most important factor that will give your writing authority is the process of thoroughly researching the factual information you will need for your book. In your own reading experiences, you have probably come across how-to books, which to you did not offer convincing information. In other words, the writing in those books lacked authority.

And, make no mistake; you will need factual information for your book whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Books cannot be written based only on vague generalizations and personal impressions.

You cannot for example write a believable “western” novel with a theme involving the early days of the American West if you don’t have a good amount of background knowledge on that historical period. You gain that knowledge through your research.

And obviously, writing non-fiction book will require detailed factual information on the subject you are writing about. Even if you have first-hand knowledge of a non-fiction topic you should still do additional research to gather new material you may not be totally up-to-date on.

When doing your research, you will need to take notes. Following are a couple of approaches.

M.L. Stein, in his book, Write Clearly…Speak Effectively, advises, “The notebook is the writer’s good companion. Have one handy at all times and write down the facts you find. Always take down more information than you will need. It’s much better to have too much data than too little.”

As an alternative, ruled 4x6-inch index cards are also a good way to keep your research notes. And, once you have begun the process of writing your first draft,  index cards are easy to sort into the subject categories you have established in your book’s outline.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Your fiction: Be original, don’t imitate

By Dennis Mellersh

One of the traps that new fiction writers can fall into is using images, issues, or concepts from previous periods of artistic creativity in their work, instead of utilizing contemporary references. This tendency can stem from an effort to write in what the writer perceives as a “literary manner.” For the new writer learning how to write a book, this is a pattern of writing that can be avoided  by being aware of the importance of speaking in your own voice, of being original.

Much writing from earlier periods, particularly poetry, contains references to classical mythology and symbols, for example.  The readers of earlier periods understood those references. Or there may be allusions to the Bible, which was known intimately by most people years ago, but which is not known nearly so well today, by most people.

Using imagery and references from earlier periods of literature will not be understood by many readers today, including, probably, the target audience for your book.

The issues that concerned an informed reading audience 100 or 150 years ago are generally not the same issues that are of interest to readers today.

I am not speaking here about issues and themes involving human emotions and their associated behaviors, which have remained a constant throughout recorded history. Human behaviour, in fact, is in one way or another, the foundation of all good fiction writing.

In addition to the communication problems posed by such images and references, using the outdated images and references of the writers of previous time periods will make your work appear dated and derivative.

Most of us imitate when we are in early stages of becoming a writer. But as we progress in our writing, we need to use symbols, references, and images that are readily recognized by today’s reading audience.

In his book Creative Authenticity, the painter Ian Roberts makes an excellent point that can be applied to the art or craft of writing well: “We cannot appropriate the power of past images by using them today. We can’t assume that because they had a primal, aboriginal, and elemental power when they were created, that they will, if we use them today, convey that power to a viewer now.”

I’ve written before on the subjective of imitative writing, but I think it is worth re-emphasizing. Imitative writing robs us of our uniqueness.

Whether you are writing a novel, or working on a book-length collection of short stories or poems, imitating other writers, particularly from earlier literary periods (except as a study or learning exercise) works against our ability to originate and create.

It really boils down to having the confidence to write in your own voice and not someone else’s.

Editing, revising, rewriting your book

By Dennis Mellersh

In writing a book (and learning how to write a book) one of the processes on which writers have different working methods is the process of editing, rewriting, or revising their draft manuscripts.

Depending on their writing methodology for the first draft, some writers do very little revision during the initial creative process, while others revise or rewrite extensively as they progress.

Generally, writers who compose their initial drafts methodically, carefully choosing each word and phrase, and taking great care with their sentence structure, do not need to make extensive changes to their completed draft manuscripts.

Other writers, those who like to “get it all down” as quickly as possible, will be faced with the need for a lot of changes in the final revision process. Such writers often comment that taking the time to correct things as they write interferes with their train of thought and blocks the flow of their writing.

There are also writers who enjoy the entire creative writing process so much that they are in constant pursuit of perfection in their writing and will go on and on making detailed changes even in the final printing-proof stagers of the writing and publishing process.

The novelist George Simenon often commented in interviews that he revised very little when editing his final draft copy. Although he wrote quickly, his main concern in the revision process was in taking out any adjectives, adverbs, and descriptive details which he felt did not contribute to moving the story along. If for example he found “the perfect sentence” which was there only for literary effect, he would take it out. His aim was to avoid being “too literary.”

By contrast, the writer James Thurber would labor endlessly over his drafts in an effort to “make the finished version smooth, to make it seem effortless.”

In an interview with the Paris Review, Thurber commented, “A story I’ve been working on – “The Train on Track Six” – it’s called, was rewritten fifteen complete times. There must have been close to 240,000 thousand words in all the manuscripts put together, and I must have spent two thousand hours working at it. Yet the finished version can’t be more than twenty thousand words.”

So, there isn’t really a formula or a set of rules governing the process of revising, editing, and rewriting your work; it’s a matter of your preferred method of working on your initial draft.

It’s your choice of whether you want to write slowly and revise as you write, whether you want to write, for example, a thousand words and then revise, or whether you want to write the entire draft manuscript without pausing for revision, and then make your changes at the end, working with a completed manuscript.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How extensively should you rewrite?

By Dennis Mellersh

One of the questions or dilemmas faced by all writers, whether beginners, who are studying how to write a book,  or experts, is: “How much should I rewrite or revise my first draft?”

Assuming that you write quickly and don’t revise along the way, your initial draft will have the liveliness and freshness of a first impression or the immediacy of “first thoughts” – it will have “life.”

It may also be overly loose, repetitive, redundant, ungrammatical, excessively wordy, or lacking in clarity.

Revising and rewriting should substantially reduce these negative attributes of your first draft.

But, some restraint is often needed in the revision and rewriting process.

With excessive revising and rewriting and “never being satisfied”, you run the risk of taking all the life and personality out of your writing.

A good piece of writing can be ruined by laboring over it endlessly.

It’s admirable to make your writing as good as possible, but remember that trying to make your writing “perfect” can also make it dead.

Tip: You should always keep each version of your drafts – you may want to “re-include” some material that you initially removed or changed in your zeal  "to make it better."

I remember taking a long time to write a feature piece, laboring over it at length, and then showed it to a colleague, for his opinion.

His response, after taking some time to review it was, "I can see what you're getting at, but I think the words are getting in the way of what you are trying to say."

In other words, my struggles ended up in the article being "overwritten" and ineffective in conveying my message.

Sometimes you just need to go with your instincts an resist the temptation to overly fine-tune your work.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The new writer: Five responsibilities

By Dennis Mellersh

You are interested in the process of becoming a writer; you want to learn the craft of writing; and you may want to learn how to write a book.

These are admirable goals yet they carry with them certain responsibilities if they are to be achieved.
Primary among these responsibilities is that you will need to make a commitment to do a lot of work over an extended period of time in order to achieve your objectives.

If you have no experience in writing at an expert level, learning to write well enough to produce a successful book can be a long haul. But it is a do-able objective and certainly a worthwhile one.
Following are five of the main responsibilities you will need to assume and make a commitment to in order to become a writer and realize your ambition of writing a book:
  1. Spending time each day (or most days) practising your writing skills. It is the constant effort of working on your writing that will develop it more than any other activity
  2. Reading many books (and making notes on them) by authors specializing in the genre that interests you whether it is fiction or non-fiction, mystery novels or how-to books
  3. Studying and learning something every day related to the techniques and best practices involved in mastering the craft of writing
  4. Doing background research for your book whenever you have the opportunity to push your project forward. Leaving all or most of your research until the last minute will make it a tough job, and an easy one to procrastinate.
  5. Making an effort to self-publish your writing work, on a free-platform blog for example, to give you a feel for actually putting your ideas in front of the world and taking responsibility for them
Research shows that the majority of people in North American say they want to write a book. However, most do not take the necessary steps to actually make an effort to do accomplish this desire.
 
One of the reasons is the discovery that learning to write well and then writing a book is hard work and does not happen overnight.
 
However, if you make the commitment and assume the necessary responsibilities, there is a good chance that you will be one of the relatively few who actually does realize their dream of writing a book.

Writing: The benefits of failure

By Dennis Mellersh

In your efforts to learn to write well and then applying your skills to learning how to write a book, you will, like all new writers, experience failures – a  recognition on your part  that what you are attempting to accomplish with a particular piece of writing just isn’t working.

To anyone in the process of becoming a writer, recognition of a failure in their writing can be discouraging, and many even lead to thoughts of feeling worthless as a writer.

Yet actually, experiencing failures in writing, and more importantly, recognizing when you have a failure, is a good sign – it means your discernment as a writer is growing.

Having the ability to recognize when your writing is not as good as it should be means that you have established standards for yourself, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Recognizing that your writing on a particular project is “just not coming together” means that you really are becoming a writer. Failure is a fact of life for even established, successful writers who regularly produce books.

As you grow further in learning the craft of writing, you will also acquire the ability to determine whether a given “failed” writing effort on your book can be salvaged by editing and rewriting, or whether it is so deeply flawed in concept that it will never work, requiring you to start fresh on a entirely new approach.

For further study on reasons why writers abandon a writing project, there is an interesting essay online from The New York Times Sunday Book Review, March 4, 2011 titled, Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/books/review/Kois-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Monday, May 13, 2013

Organizing your book: Three research methods

By Dennis Mellersh

Now that you are in the process of acquiring knowledge on how to write a book and are becoming a writer of books, you must assume the mind and methods of a writer.

Doing research for your book(s) is an example.

You need to figure out a timetable or time-related method of how to do the research required for the books you are planning, whether they are fiction or non-fiction.

One approach is to simply pick a time each day, or on as many days as you can, and devote a specific amount of time, say one-and-a-half hours, for example, to do the formal research for your book.

A second method is to organize the reading time you would normally spend on unfocussed (pleasure) reading and instead take that time to read materials specifically as research sources on the topic of your book.

A third way is to utilize your every-day reading by asking yourself, “Is there some way this information could be useful in the books I would like to write?”

An example: If you are writing a book of fiction, such as a novel, and you are reading your local newspaper, watching TV, or reviewing news sites on the Internet, ask yourself if any of what you are reading or watching, such as interesting stories involving people’s behaviour, could be useful information on which to build a character in your book, or add something to the plot of your book.

Alternatively, if you are writing a non-fiction book, make an effort to examine all your regular sources of reading, such as newspapers, TV, and online news sites, and specifically watch for topic-oriented background material that might be useful for your book.

Most general news media divide their coverage by topic such as, business, finance, sports travel, and entertainment, so this can simplify your sorting of source materials.

How to write a children’s book: Don’t over-simplify

By Dennis Mellersh

If the book you are planning to write is a book for children, one of the main temptations to avoid is the intuitive tendency of the beginner writer in this genre to oversimplify the writing, or to “talk down” to an reading audience comprised of children. Part of learning how to write a book for children is training yourself as a writer to avoid this tendency.

Whether your book is one that will be read “to” children or one that will be read “by” children, the advice is the same – if you are writing as if you need to constantly hit your message with a hammer, children will sense that the writing is forced and not realistic, and you will lose them as an audience for your book.

Often when we talk to/with children many of us have a tendency to talk in a different tone of voice, and use different language and context than we would when talking with an adult. We have a tendency to talk “to” children rather than “with” children and have a real conversation with them.

At its worst this tendency can result in talking to children as if they were a baby or a family pet. Carried over into your writing, such as in a book for children, this will result in failure of your writing efforts, particularly if you’re a planning on writing a book that will be read “by” children.

It is difficult for us as adults to remember exactly how we felt or understood life when we were children ourselves. The result is that we don’t instinctively know much about children in terms of how they think and react to different situations.

The novelist John Steinbeck talked about writers generally not knowing much about children in his Journal of a Novel. In the Journal he discussed his thinking concerning how he planned to write about children in his novel East of Eden.

His comments are instructive in terms of helping us understand not only how to write “about” children but also to understand how to write “for” children (which is what we are concerned with in this article):
”I am going to try to go into the minds of children, but more than that I am going to try to set those minds down on paper. And these are not children as they are conceived by adults but children as they are to and among themselves...Most of what I read about children is crap. Grown people forget...children are no more alike than adults.”

Later in the Journal Steinbeck went on to say that in general, children in literature have been badly written, and particularly that they have been “underwritten.”

This article has focused on one important aspect of writing for children. For more detailed and general information, there is an excellent and thorough how-to article on Wikihow on the mechanics and style requirements of writing for children:

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Children's-Book

Friday, May 10, 2013

Craft of writing requires practice

By Dennis Mellersh

Learning the craft of writing and becoming a writer takes above all, learning the fundamentals of writing well and then, constant practice.

You first need to learn how to write before you can hope to learn how to write a book. And that requires practising your writing, ideally every day.

It’s the same with any artistic pursuit at which a person expects to become competent, and then to excel.

You can’t become a watercolor or oil painter without learning the fundamentals; you can’t become a musician without learning the basics and practising them; you can’t become a photographer without learning the essential technical skills.

And you can’t become a writer without putting in the hard work of practising your writing.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When should you write your book?

By Dennis Mellersh

You’ve decided that you want to write a non-fiction book, but have you fully thought through the reasons why you believe you want to do this?

Research indicates that more than 80 percent of North Americans say they want to know how write a book. But if you were to ask them “why?” it’s probable that many would not have a precise answer.

If you are planning to write a non-fiction book, there are a number of reasons you might want to do something different, at least initially, to communicate with your potential audience, than in immediately trying to write a book.

A book can take a long time to write, and if you are eager to get your ideas out to the world and test them, then you might want start with a blog ( this “website”, for example, is a blog) to get your message out.

With today’s online media tools, a blog can be set up economically (or even for free) in a relatively short period of time. And with contemporary content management systems, a blog is not difficult to administer or manage. You can do it without outside expert assistance.

The big difference between your potential blog and the book you are planning  is that a blog (which you could start today)  builds its impact gradually or cumulatively whereas a book, because of its critical mass, will have the eventual potential for a more dramatic and forceful impact.

With a blog you can set up your site and post your first article(s) in less than a day. Alternatively, Depending on the size of the book you are planning, it could be months before your book is complete, and then you still have to take the time to publish and promote it.

Ideally you could run both of these concepts in parallel. Develop your blog and run out ideas and concepts while also taking time on a regular basis to write the content for your non-fiction book (with the benefit of possible feedback from readers of your blog.).

Particularly if you are in the early stages of learning how to write, starting first with a blog is something you ought to consider.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Technology, your book, and success

By Dennis Mellersh

Technology, such as the Internet and self-publishing tools, can be a tremendous asset in helping you with learning how to write a book and about publishing your book.

However, this benefit also has a downside in that it can create unrealistic expectations on the part of some new writers.

The perception seems to be (a) that because of the ease of use of these new technological tools, virtually anyone can now write and publish a book, and that (b) this was not possible before the boom in online information technology.

Of course, this is not the case.

All that has ever been required to write a book is writing instruments, such as pencils and pens, and a writing surface such as paper.

All that has ever been needed to have a book “published” is having sufficient money to pay a printer to print and bind the book.

But being able to write a book using either traditional or contemporary technology only means that a book can be written. Not necessarily a good book, or an excellent book, just a book.

Similarly, being able to easily self-publish only means that the book can be produced. It does not mean the book is being published in the true sense of that word, as it would be when a publisher pays a writer for the rights to publish (editorially improve, print, market, and distribute) the writer’s written work.

Although technology is giving more and more people the ability to write something, self-publish it, and distribute it, such technological capability does not come with either the built-in skill to write well, or the built-in savvy to successfully gain a paid readership for the writing, such as with a book.

New writers still have to learn the craft of writing, whether it be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, if their writing, and their books, are to be well received by an informed reading audience.

The ‘win’ today is that because of technology such as the Internet, more and more people are becoming readers and interested in books. And more and more people are: learning how to write well; writing books; and are successfully reaching this expanded audience through self-publishing.

What qualities does a writer have?

By Dennis Mellersh

Many beginner writers, such as you perhaps, who are in the process of learning how to write (and more specifically, how to write a book) want to know the main intellectual capabilities they need in order to become a writer.

The novelist William Faulkner answered this question during an interview with the Paris Review:
“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, [and] at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.”

Another question from new writers concerns the question of unblocking or stimulating the creative flow and taking those first steps to getting something down on paper for a novel, a short story or a poem.

Faulkner answered this question as well in the same interview:

“With me, a story usually begins with a single idea or memory or mental picture. The writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what it caused to follow. A writer is trying to create believable people in credible moving situations in the most moving way he can.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ignore doubts: keep writing every day

By Dennis Mellersh

As you continue to learn about how to write a book, and you put in the time to practice your writing (hopefully every day) there are times when you may become discouraged.

One of the reasons this may happen is that as you progress in your writing efforts, you will be continually developing your imagination and your creative way of looking at the world around you and interpreting it.

You already had a strong imagination before you started on your writing journey or you would not have had the intellectual creativity to want to write a book.

But, one of the downsides for people who are creative and have strong imaginations, such as you have, is that they may also have a tendency to imagine the worst as well as the best. However, such thinking is all part of becoming a writer, and having the imagination of a writer. Self-doubts about writing can affect even the most experienced writers.

Thoughts that your writing is not good enough; that no-one will care about what you have to say; that you will never meet your own high writing standards; that some days you are blocked and have great difficulty writing…the list of imagined or anticipated difficulties goes on.

If you are feeling like this, some words from Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War can offer some encouragement:

“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination, not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.”

Is your writing brief, concise, or both?

By Dennis Mellersh

If the draft of your book manuscript is 300 pages when it could have been pared down to 200 pages without losing any meaning, it is probably not sufficiently concise. On the other hand, if it is 200 pages when at least 300 pages would be needed to convey its meaning and message, it is likely too brief.

In their book Effective Writing (1) authors Kellogg Smith and Jane Stapleford make the point that the terms conciseness and brevity have different meanings, and they advise writers, ”Be sure that you grasp the distinction between mere brevity – the use of few words – and conciseness – the use of the precise number of words needed.”

Of the two writing attributes, brevity and conciseness, the quality of being concise is the attribute you should be working towards in all of your writing. That is, not using more words than are necessary to adequately convey the information you want to your readers.

This does not mean that you should write in only short sentences, or that you should eliminate adjectives, adverbs and descriptive details from the writing in your book. Rather, it means you should be looking for ways to eliminate unnecessary words from your writing.

By contrast, the quality of brevity in writing is not always desirable, or necessary. It depends more on the purpose of the writing. If you are writing the foreword or introduction to your book for example, you don’t want the introduction to go on…and on…and on. You want it to be brief.

(1) Effective Writing, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1963

Write naturally or lose your readers

By Dennis Mellersh

In planning the content strategy for your book, and in writing it, it is vital for you to write naturally. Learning how to write in your own voice, or naturally, is an important part of knowing how to write a book that resonates with readers.

One of the outcomes of not writing naturally can be a book, such as a novel, being overloaded with symbolism, or filled with moral lessons. Other results of not writing naturally can include plotlines that are too contrived, unrealistic dialogue and use of vocabulary, and an overall aura of pretentiousness.

If you make a conscious effort in your writing to include symbolism and moral lessons for example, it will be very obvious to your readers, and in all probability will result in their losing interest in your work.

Readers do not like to be lectured or preached at. Aside from that, such devices make your work appear clumsy and amateurish in the best case, and boring in the worst case.

Extended analogy and metaphor can be effective literary devices that you can use in your fiction, but if your force it and try to hit people over the head with your “symbolic” or “moral” message they will rebel and probably put your book aside to “read sometime later” or abandon it altogether and not finish reading it.

One of the reasons that new writers are prone to overuse symbolism and moral lessons or “message” in their writing may be because of the way that many of us were taught in school (particularly high school) to “explain the “intent” of the author in terms of their use of symbols and other literary devices to convey their “message”

However, often as not with good fiction writers, there was not a deliberate, calculated intent on the part of the writer, unless you consider subconscious artistic creativity to be “intent.”

With this background emphasis in the teaching of literature, students then assume they must deliberately include a lot of literary devices in their writing, or it won’t be considered worthwhile, or “literary.”

In fact, a conscious effort on the part of a writer to be literary usually results in a book that is not enjoyable to read. The author is trying too hard to be “literary” and the result is overly obvious and writing that is dead-on-arrival.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The process of becoming a writer

By Dennis Mellersh

Now that you are learning to write, and perhaps even starting to write your book, you are already in the process of becoming a writer and you soon will be living the life of a writer.

You are entitled to consider yourself a writer if you are making an effort to thoroughly learn all the aspects of the craft of writing and are also taking the time to practice your writing with a view to writing the books you are planning, whether that is fiction, non-fiction, or a collection of poetry or essays.

A new approach to life
As a writer, your approach to life will be now different than before you started to write. Now every aspect of your life has the potential to contribute in some way, either directly or indirectly, to your writing.

Everything you do, everything you read, everything you see, and everything you hear will become part of the background that you can draw on in your novels, short stories, poetry or your non-fiction.
Now that you are becoming a writer, when you go to the library, read articles in the newspaper or on the Internet, and read books and magazines, it will be goal directed, and not just for amusement.

You will be analyzing how you can use the information you are absorbing as a database to draw on in your writing. You will be absorbing the events of the world around you through the eyes and ears of a writer. You will see the world in a new perspective.

Building your writing database
As a by-product of your information gathering, a subconscious process of idea generation will happen. This is why you should always carry with you a small notebook so you can write down these ideas for your writing as they occur to you. And, ideas will start coming to you at any place and at any time.

But unless you write them down, you won’t be able to remember them. Ideas are often fleeting, and you can’t will them into existence, even if as a writer you are starting to develop an active imagination. So you have to be prepared to capture these ideas – hence the notebook. Similarly, you you should start to keep a larger notebook or journal where you can expand and develop your ideas as part of your daily writing program.

You will be reading a lot
An important part of your new life as a writer will be reading as much as you can whenever and wherever you can. Not just material about learning how to write, but equally important, and perhaps more important, reading the works of established, recognized writers such as novels, short stories, poems, essays and non-fiction in general. You should focus your reading more heavily on the type of writing that you are interested in doing.

The short story writer and novelist Ray Bradbury suggests that aspiring writers should reach each day: one short story, one poem, one essay. To that list we could add: a few pages from a novel.
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary

That is a tough order if you are a working Mom or have a full time job in business, for example. But you should do this reading because you may learn more about writing from reading good writing than you will from books and other media telling to how to write.

You will not be able to fully develop yourself as a writer unless you read a lot of what other writers have already done. You should read contemporary writers as well as writers from earlier periods.
To get an even better appreciation of quality writing, try writing out in longhand some passages from your favorite writers that seem particularly good to you. Soon, it won’t be long before you find yourself writing down your own ideas and fashioning them into literary format.

Your practice writing efforts
Regarding your “practice writing” efforts, you should keep all of this experimental or draft material on hand in a safe place. Try doing this draft work in longhand, but if using a computer, print it out instead of assuming it will be safe on your hard drive. It’s also easier to review this older material if it is permanently on paper.

Although you may still consider yourself a “beginner” writer you may be surprised later on when you go back to some of this material to find that there is a lot in these “early” writing efforts which is worth developing further.

Also keep your notes on the passages from your favorite writers in a central safe location. These notes can be a good source of both information and inspiration as you proceed on your journey of becoming a writer.

Another way of taking notes from the works of your favorite writers is to write down the quotations on index cards noting the name of the writer and the source of the information (such as book title). It can come in handy later on if you want to re-read the original source of the information. It can be frustrating if you have an interesting quote, but you don’t know where it came from, or worse, you don’t know who the author is.

The payoff
In all of this try to think of your desire to be a writer and the effort you are putting into it as part of an exciting and ultimately rewarding experience.