There is a strange liminal space between organizational structures and being an organized person in which my brain resides. I see a new tool to play with to create and interact with elaborate organizational structures, and I become ignited—excitement and hyper-focus abound. My problem has always been, and always will be, I fear, that I am not very good at upkeeping and utilizing those structures once they have been lovingly and beautifully crafted. Once a system adds enough complexity to require additional energy to maintain it outside of the time and effort it already takes to complete the work the structure is meant to optimize…well, then. I am out. Structure forgotten in favor of returning to lovingly crafting my Animal Crossing island, which is probably rooted in the same satisfaction center anyway.
The problem with this is that any type of structuring is going to require its own energy output. Plus, outside of the structuring problem, I am not really capable of holding all of the things on my task list in my brain without external assistance. So, what is a girl to do? This particular side effect of my specific brand of neurodiverse brain-meats is a struggle, and the struggle is REAL.
This is most likely why, when scrolling Twitter one evening last week, I came across a discussion on Notion in author Bree Bridges’ tweets (@mostlybree and one-half of the duo behind Kit Rocha), it felt like a turning point for me. Because with Notion, there are templates that you can customize to suit your needs. I need not foray into the endless structural options alone. It became apparent that I would be best suited to using Notion in a “dashboard” structure, essentially as a hub that has relevant information all in one place. Some people implement calendars and to-do lists within Notion itself. However, I have an elaborate system of alerts for reminders and calendars that buzz me on my computer, phone, tablet, and watch so that I can get shit done. There is no way you can convince me to be rid of that 4-alarm system.
However, for my writing projects? Solid gold. I struggle with file management systems because once information is closed and stashed away in a file, it exits my brain probably forever. Notion allows all that information to be present visually, or at least have a visual cue to click on a drop-down or page to look at relevant content.
This is ultimately why I have opted to share the drafting template I put together with the assistance of @ysabellesua‘s Outlining Template and @mixbecca‘s Notion for Writers templates. This is just the start, and I am sure it will evolve as I continue to use it. I highly recommend checking out their templates, because really this is just an evolution from their already existing work combining an increased amount of data into a single dashboard.
The whole template is a single-page dashboard with either drop-down menus to show additional information or accommodate notes or links to subpages to open out more complex data and information. For example, the Word Count Tracker is a link to a page the shows a database where you can log your time, word count, word count goal, and show the difference between those word count totals for each session and over time.
In the Toggle Lists pictured above, you can add notes, checklists, databases—really anything that will be useful to you. I have been using each “Act” toggle to answer questions about what I think each act should accomplish and using that space to narrow focus as I continue to draft and rework sections. You can also use it as a place to dump notes and ideas or to create short pitches/blurbs for each section to help focus your writing.
Below the general information, you get down into the nitty-gritty details of the book. In the “Characters” toggle, in addition to a database that lists each character and basic information about them, I have added a Character Checklist that I created for my own purpose in each listed character example page in the database. You can also download it at the end of this post if you would like to use the checklist outside of Notion.
Ultimately, I hope to have contributed to the collaborative efforts of all writers trying to optimize and share templates for Notion out there. I am hopeful that this will help me keep track of the whole of my project so that the wiggly, amorphous bits along the edges stop escaping entirely.