How I Research and Organize My Book Writing: a Follow-Up

How I research and organize my book writing

A few weeks ago, I received a request to post a couple of pictures of my research “process” using a Circa notebook.

Happy to comply. 

I subscribe to the Twyla Tharp school of creative organization — every project gets its own “box" within which lies everything to do with that book, from research to notes to manuscripts and edits.

Over the years, with the advent of online storage and editing, these boxes have been getting smaller and smaller. Now, instead of tubs full of paper stacked in my closets, I’m able to use an expandable file pocket, and I consolidate my physical notes into single notebooks, whenever possible. 

Expandable Pockets and Book Clariefontaine


But for the CC books, I need a lot more organization. Hence, the Circa. 

If you missed how we researched THE SIXTH DAY, you can find that here. 

Once I’ve gathered up all my research, I print it out and put it in the Circa, and this is what I transport to Catherine’s for us to draw upon as we build the story. Organization helps! I separate my research by topics, as you can see. The pages inside are highlighted, too.

Each book also gets a Clairefontaine spiral bound notebook, and I use that for notes, ideas, queries, and all other manner of thinking on paper. They’re priceless to me. I actually found a whole chapter of LIE TO ME in one of the notebooks that I almost forgot to add to the manuscript, so yes, I do write by hand at times. 

The Clairefontaine - Plan of Attack

I also mentioned The Database — here is one of the bookshelves I have, full to the brim with research material. 

6. The Research Database

It’s amazing really, to think of all of this, when our forebears managed to write masterpiece after masterpiece like this:

The way it used to be done...

I'd love to see your process and organization!


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