I tend to take notes on the backs of envelopes, grocery store receipts, and random pieces of paper. While working on a book, those notes pile up on my desk. Years later, I have no clue where they are.
Sometimes the notes go into a file folder. Sometimes I type them into a DOC file. File folders get lost. DOC files disappear when hard drives crash. What’s left after that? The memory that you used to know something, but now you don’t.
Case in point: a friend is reading an old novel of mine that has a lot of Blackfeet language phrases in it. I used to know what they meant. Now I don’t. So, when she asks, I can only say, “Figure out those phrases in the context of the scenes where I use them because I’ve got nothing for you.”
And now I’m thinking of writing a novel related to the one she’s reading. Or, seeing that there aren’t any notes in the house, maybe I won’t.
A better filing system would save a lot of anguish. Not to mention time in terms of how long it will take to re-research stuff I already researched. I guess when a book is done, I don’t think I’m going back that way again. So, stuff disappears.
What I need is a crack staff (as opposed to a staff on crack) to tidy up the mess on my desk each time I finish a book. Then I might have a clue (as opposed to not having a clue).
My advice is to keep the notes you take (in an organized fashion) whenever you write a novel.