Thursday, February 13, 2014

Write Tommy Write!

I am always interested in learning how historians write, especially historians as productive as Baylor's Thomas Kidd.  Over at The Anxious Bench, Kidd shares some of his secrets to productivity.   The guy is a machine! Here is a taste:

I personally would find it extremely inefficient to take a bunch of notes and then go back weeks or months later to write up those notes in chapter form. My memory is just not that good, so it is much easier to, in effect, combine writing and note-taking. This necessarily means that I will have to edit extensively, and move stuff around, but won’t I have to do that anyway? Similarly, I find extensive outlining to be useless, since I rarely know exactly what I am going to cover, and when, until I am actually writing.
There are cases when I do want to capture things from books, articles, the internet, etc. that I am not going to use right away, but could come in handy later. These I generally either put in “My Library” in Google Books, or save in the free Evernote app (which I also use for saving sources when writing WORLD Magazine articles). The scenario in which I probably take the most extensive notes is when I visit archives where (grrrr) you are not allowed to take digital photos or make photocopies. This happened when I was at the British Library last May, and I needed to take lengthy notes in a Word document on an unpublished George Whitefield diary. In such a case, I don’t know what else to do but take notes and integrate them into your manuscript as soon as you can.