Notebook quandary

At the end of June I am going to a week long writer's workshop. Cool. Can't wait. But I am so very stressed out over what notebook system to take -- Circa or 3-ring. I can't think of anyone else except those on this site who could understand the number of brain cells I'm devoting to this choice. Please help?

The general notebook will be for notes, the assignments I'll be doing there, and the conference materials. I'll also put my scheduling and planner stuff in there for this one week. The advantages of the Circa are the size (would definately be thinner), being able to put in different sized papers, and the fold-back cover. The advantages of the 3-ring is that it would work better with my novel print-out and the conference materials might come punched this way (but I don't know). The 3-ring punch I'd be taking would also punch more pages at a time than the Circa (I'd take my desktop one). Also, I'm thinking that 3-ring punched pages might archive better, but I'm not sure about that.

I also want to take a printout of the novel I'm working on (I'm taking my laptop, but I just don't completely trust electronics). I'll probably get a print shop to print either on 3 hole paper or bind in comb binding (it is way too big for Circa). The advantage of the 3-ring is that I could take parts of it out and put it in my main notebook (if I go 3-ring). The disadvantage is that the binder I'd be putting it in would be huge and heavy. The advantage of the comb binding is that the whole thing would be lighter.

I'm also supposed to write each scene on its own index card. I'm thinking of punching 2 holes in them and using rings to hold them together. Or, I could Circa punch them which would let me take out ones I'm working on and put them in my main notebook (if I go Circa). However, I'm afraid that if we are going to shuffle or rearrange them too much in the workshop that the smurfs would catch on each other.

I have to admit that I'm concerned that using a Circa system would be a bit pretentious, yet it would look more professional. I use Circa at work and I'm the only one there who does and it doesn't bother me. Of course I was also the only one wearing a towel on towel day, so I don't worry about standing out too much there, but I'm going to a place where no one knows me. I should also admit that, except for the print shop expenses, I have all the stuff I need for both choices (it was difficult to type that -- I should need to buy something new, shouldn't I?).

Comments? Suggestions? Help?

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wow i can see your

wow i can see your dilemma...

Have you considered building a hybrid of both systems? pehaps a circa notebook that can be inserted into your three ring binder?

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Have you considered building

Have you considered building a hybrid of both systems? pehaps a circa notebook that can be inserted into your three ring binder?

That would mean circa-fying pre-punched 3-hole paper.

Hmm ...

I was thinking more of

I was thinking more of having a back cover piece that was wider than the circa notebook would require. Three hole punch that excess on the left edge. Then create a top bound circa notebook.

or perhaps reverse that and have the top three hole punched and the notebook circa bound on the side.

Also a dock of some sort would allow you to insert it and remove it at will. (I'm still brain storming on the entire dock idea...)

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neat

I like that idea. The wheels are turning . . .

I've done that often

Especially with notebook dividers and planner pages.

Like it

But I only want to bring one punch with me. However, I might need this for other reasons.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Imo, you want to focus on what you'll be learning and on your writing - not fussing with the all the unimportant trappings. I'd recommend a system that lets you get caught up in the ideas and the flow of words and not so much the mechanics. What are you comfortable with? What do you use best without having to think too much about it? Remember that, for this week, you'll be putting aside all the usual day-to-day concerns and focusing on your writing so you probably won't need your full complement of tools.

Is this a lecture in the morning, write in the afternoon, critique in the evening kind of workshop? (It sounds like the Donald Maass workshop I went two a couple of years ago.*)

If so, I'd recommend three - simple - notebooks, maybe a Circa for notetaking at the lectures, then laptop and printing paper for the writing, and, since it sounds like you already have it in place, a three-ring binder for the past work, current work, and critique notes. You will probably take just your new work for critique, so perhaps a folder with the Circa, or better, just some pre-punched loose sheets in the folder with your work. If you will be writing critiques of others, I'd also take some plain printer paper and use that for them.

If you're driving, you can take a bit more than if you're flying, so that's a consideration, too. As extravagant as it sounds, a small portable printer comes in very handy. I have a little Canon i80 and it's always a champ at the writing workshops and retreats I've been to.

A lot of writing workshops will hand out their own binders, so that may fill a need for you. And remember that, unless you're out in the wilderness somewhere, you can always go buy more paper or a notebook and then punch for organizing in your Circa when you get home.

*If it is the Maass workshop, I can give you more specific suggestions. Just let me know.

Simplify?

I'm not real good at simplifying, but I love all your suggestions. And you are right, it is the Maass workshop and I'd love some specific ideas from you. I just changed my contact information so you can email me through this website if you'd like. I hope the workshop was useful to you. I do have a zippered canvas folder I got at Staples for lose paper, the nice thing about the Circa notebook is that it would fit in the folder too (at least, until I got too much paper crammed). I am driving a pick up truck there which opens all sorts of possibilities for how much stuff I can take. I was thinking of stealing the family printer for the week (I do have an old back up these guys can use, so I wouldn't leave them printerless), but I'll look into the printer you suggest. Thanks for confirming that a printer would be useful.

I agree - make it as simple as possible

I'm also supposed to write each scene on its own index card. I'm thinking of punching 2 holes in them and using rings to hold them together. Or, I could Circa punch them which would let me take out ones I'm working on and put them in my main notebook (if I go Circa). However, I'm afraid that if we are going to shuffle or rearrange them too much in the workshop that the smurfs would catch on each other.

The experience I've had with many different types of workshops is that pre-prepared items are often (not alawys) for the use of everyone at the workshop. It's quite possible that your index cards will be added to other writers index cards in some sort of group workshop. So punching holes in them might not be a good idea.

I suggest you keep it as simple as possible - perhaps put the cards in an envelope and punch the envelope to suit whatever binder you take.

If you're going to take a print of your novel as a backup, then perhaps it would be best to make it as light as possible. Most professional editors demand that the most binding they want on a novel submission is a rubber band - so whatever you have will be more than that.

If it was me I'd take a lighter binder to the sessions etc and have anything else that I might need sometime (bigger binders etc) in my room.

Personally, I don't think circa would be a good idea as you won't have time in workshops to fiddle with putting paper onto the rings. Also, if you have to swap notes with someone else, the paper won't suit them

Sharing

I hadn't thought about the concept of passing things around and sharing. I sure hope we only share printouts. My spelling, even after a spell checker is rather creative. But smurfs would render things less pass-around-the-roomable.

I'm not sure I can just leave an index card as an index card. I've passed the DIY point of no return. Maybe I can use the instructions on this site to fold a box to hold the cards. That might be enough.

I really like all your suggestions to keep things light. Binding my novel pages would be just for me. I've already mailed the stuff for the agent and editor with no binding at all. And only the first 50 pages are ready for anyone but me to see. It is a bit of a mess, at the moment not even the chapter numbers are consistent (the go up to chapter 4, then back to 2 again).

Thanks again for the reminders and suggestions to keep things light and simple. I tend to take way too much everywhere I go and make everything too complicated, so I need all the help I can to keep it simple.

Potentially silly thought...

If you have one, would it be all that impractical to take your Desktop Smurfer ? A lot of the concern seems to me to focus on the labor necessary in using the Portable Smurfer. Such concern would, I believe, vanish with the Big Smurfer in hand.

Good luck.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Desktop will go with me

Thanks Ygor, my desktop smurfer will come with me if I go Circa. But even that one doesn't punch as many pages as the 3-hole. Still, how much output am I really going to need to smurf? Maybe I should bring both punches just in case...

Just want to say that it

Just want to say that it makes me happy that there are people out there as neurotic as me. :)

Hehe... we are the NORMAL

Hehe... we are the NORMAL ones... THEY are the wierdos :D

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Yes, normal we are

Which is why I had to ask this question to all of you normal people. All the wierdos just won't understand the importance of the proper notebook for the job.