The Shape of Things to Come

I’ve spent the better part of the day trying out different methods for recording my ideas for shaping the manuscript—yes, the manuscript I’ve only barely started to write. I’ve played with XMind, Zoomorama, and Prezi and looked at other online and desktop tools for mindmapping and visualizing data. At the end of the day, I have one XMind chart and a stack of 4×6 cards.

Difficult History

While XMind is great for keeping track of the various elements I want to write about and how they’re connected, the note cards work well for notes on the kinds of poems I want to write. I’ve got a stack of fifty—enough to represent the pages of a slim manuscript. I’m using them both to plot out the structure of the book and to serve as individual poem assignments, which I’ve always found helpful come drafting time. Right now, I’m just listing topics and notes about the kind of tone I might want to try for. Just broad sketches, so I know where I’m going and so I have a place to jot down poem ideas as they come without impeding the flow of writing. I find the magnitude of this project so large and intimidating, I don’t know where to start or how to focus because I feel like I should write about everything at once. This is a way to force me to slow down and focus without neglecting the desire to be inclusive.

I also want either a six-foot cork board or a homemade white board where I can plot out notes for the collection, including something like three separate but related timelines that I can hang poems from my various themes on so I can play with their relationships. I very much like the idea of something material that I can just pick up and restick somewhere else. That, alas, will have to wait.


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