Remember back in college where you had notebooks filled with notes. If you haven’t been to college, do you recall going to High School classes and taking notes? Having a designated notebook for each subject? Most of us probably forgot the skill and process of note taking. As writers, we want to develop, or enhance, strategic note taking. There are several reasons this skill is important. Today’s session focuses on how to develop a way to take effective and strategic notes for any content you are wanting to write. This process coincides with the previous key effectiveness of mindful writing: Strategic Research. Researching and taking notes is an integral skill set that is needed to set up engaging and influential content.
Skillful and Effective Note Taking is an Important Tool
This powerful writer’s tool will lessen the anxiety and stress when it comes to writing out meaningful and intentional content. Unless you are an encyclopedia of detailed knowledge on any given subject – one must not write from the hip (so to speak). If one does write from the hip, their content may end up losing their audience. The message may become lost. Here are some reasons this is important for writers to not only develop and enhance – it is to incorporate in all that we write:
- Ensures that we are actively reading and listening to what is being conveyed
- Requires the writer to think critically about the subject matter they are writing about
- Helps the writer to make fluid connections between topics
- Serves as an outline and guide in writing engaging content that hopefully influences some call to action
How one goes about taking notes depends on their own personality. At the website Oxford Learning, How to take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Strategies, there are different methods of note taking:
- Cornell method
- Mapping method
- Outlining method
- Charting method
- Sentence method
Granted, these methods are within the context of college classes, or high school classes. However, they may be quite adaptable to researching certain topics. Bear in mind, these are mere suggestions in how to properly and effective take notes.
Given the above strategies – there is one that I personally use. This works for me and how I develop my content for the three different websites.
Define Your Writing Goals
First, write down the goal associated with what I want to accomplish. This is utilizing the recommended S.M.A.R.T Goal idea. Here is what it looks like:
What is the initial goal you have in mind?
Develop a website dedicated to sharing insights, strategies, and tips on writing more mindfully and creatively in order to engage and influence other writers to enhance the quality of their own content. Part of this is to develop an 8-week course on key strategies of effective and mindful writing. This will become an Ebook available for purchase through the website and part of a virtual course on instructing other writers to develop and enhance quality, influential, and engaging content.
- Specific – What do I want to achieve? Influence and engage other writers to think more critically, mindfully, and thoughtfully on how to develop and publish better content to increase readership that engages and influences people to take action. Develop an 8-week boot camp, EBook, and market the concepts through my website -writing mindfully.
- Measurable – How Will I know when I’ve reached my goal? Successfully develop 8-week series on key strategies of mindfulness. Create and promote an E book based on the 8-week series. Generate interest and leads in order to grow the site writing mindfully.
- Achievable – Is this goal realistic for me? Yes and the support I need is that of friends, devoting designated time to research, develop, and write out content to be published on the website Engage in social media networking to develop interest and support. Find help and support in promoting and marketing Ebook and boot camp.
- Relevant – Why is this goal worthwhile? My desire is to share my own personal insights, plus help me focus on developing my own engaging and influential content that generates readership, conversations, and continued social media connections
- Timely – When do I want to achieve this goal? Weekly and have it completed within 60 days with a fully developed Ebook and defined sessions for the boot camp.
From here, all I do is track my progress.
Define The Structure of Your Content
Second, defining the specific content helps me stay within the type of audience I am looking to engage and influence. This is where you briefly make a summary statement that describes your content. Remember, center around the question of: What is the problem and how am I able to provide insight in solving that problem? Here is how I came to define the problems that I felt needed solving:
- How do I write every day?
- How do I find time to write daily?
- How can I motivate myself to write when I don’t feel like writing?
- How do you deal with writer’s block?
- How do I begin writing something?
These questions pose a problem where people are seeking some type of solution. Out of this, the brainstorming kicked in. Now, part of this process involves taking notes on the types of categories you want your content to fall under. For me, the main categories were:
|Writing||Mindful Writing||Writing Strategies||Content Development||Writing Tips and Tricks|
|Style||Thoughtful||Key Strategies||Engaging Content||Best Writing Tips and Tricks|
|Voice||Meditative||Effective Writing Techniques||Influential Content||How to write online content|
|Tone||Empathetic||Rules and Recommendations||Conversational Content||Edit and Proofreading|
|Attitude||Compassionate||Effectiveness||Strategic Content||Building an Audience|
With this type of structure, I am able to establish content that is more meaningful and intentional with the audience I am wanting to engage.
Third, I take my time developing a list of ideas. For instance, with this 8-week series on key strategies for effective mindful writing, I wrote out the following topics I wanted to focus on:
- Orient, Organize, and Prioritize
- Initial Strategies to Establish Disciplines
- Daily Strategies and Disciplines
- Time Management Strategies
- Strategic Research
- Strategic Note-Taking
- Honest, Integrity, and Transparent Strategies
- 7-day Content Strategy Plan
These 8-main topics help define the purpose and intention of my writing. It provides a road map of what direction I am wanting to go.
Research and take accurate notes
Now that you have taken notes on how to structure your content. What type of content you are focused on writing. Let us get to the main idea of taking accurate and effective notes. As previously stated, there are different methods one may want to utilize. For me, it is a matter of doing the following:
- Read mindfully and with purpose and intention
- Develop an idea and understanding of the context
- Utilize a dictionary
- Check for accuracy and legitimacy
- Maintain objectivity and have acute awareness of personal biased and prejudicial opinions
- Develop a reference list based on content being quoted and shared
- Write out your own thoughts based on the content, and context, of the article
According to the University of Washington’s website – Strategies for Note-Taking – recommends 12-strategies for note taking. Here are those that seem relevant:
- Take well-organized notes in outline form.
- Take notes in well-thought out forms – abbreviate and simplify
- Separate and label each note
- Write legibly (I prefer to write out notes on paper and not via computer)
- Isolate and learn specific vocabulary (having a dictionary and thesaurus on hand is good)
- Separate facts from opinions and add your own thoughts
- Review the discussions/comment section (most online content actually has comment sections and that is a great way to identify information)
Once you have established a solid routine of researching and taking strategic notes – you are ready to draft up your content and refine it for publication.
What not to do when taking notes
The ability to mindfully and critically read information is to objectively learn new ideas and concepts. To accurately take notes is to translate what you have gained insight on and share that with others. What you do not want to do is to develop content that is merely copy-and-paste of other peoples writings. This is only done when you are quoting from another person.
Here is what the website Skills you need shares:
Copying, Referencing and Plagiarism
As a general principle, you should expect to summarise (sic) and paraphrase other authors’ ideas rather than quote them verbatim.
The strategy behind paraphrasing is to be able to convey how you understand the ideas and set them into context. From my own experience, it is best to limit how much quoting one does, and focus more on paraphrasing and sharing your perspective as it relates to the topic.
Another aspect of what not to do when taking notes is to stay clear from those websites and content that are highly opinionated. Not to say that opinions do not matter. It is to ensure that when you share thoughts and communicate ideas it is representing your own core values and beliefs. Relying on reputable sources develops a writer’s integrity and honest approach to the subject matter. When it is merely parroting unfounded opinions; it perpetuates misinformation and stigma of being an unreliable source.
Finally, do not limit your research and note taking on those who may support and agree with the subject matter. Mindfully and critically read any opposing viewpoints with objectivity and thoughtfulness. How to gain understanding and insight in writing content requires that we also read opposing view points. For instance, if you are writing content that may be a political op-ed, get insight on both sides of the issue. Present a more fair and accurate representation that is based on facts and how you interpret and understand those facts.
The Challenge and Take Away
Writing great content that is strategic, influential, and engaging requires quality research and excellent note taking skills. Developing and enhancing these specific tools will bring depth and sustenance to your message. Focus on developing the structure of your content by defining the specific goals. What is the message you want the reader to convey? What specific problem/challenge/issue are you wanting to address and provide insights and solutions on? What type of category and keywords are you wanting to use? What information are you wanting to use that helps support your ideas and message? What are some opposing views that may disagree with your message and content?
Next week’s article is going to focus on developing a specific and strategic attitude toward writing and publishing content that is influential and engaging. It is based on three core beliefs and values:
- Writing content that is honest and true to your own ideals, values, and beliefs
- Writing content that has a high degree of value and integrity
- Writing content that is transparent and personable
The final key strategy is focusing on putting it all together by utilizing a 7-day Strategy Content Planner. This tool will assist you in developing solid content that is engaging, influential, and empowering. So, subscribe, share your thoughts on this, engage in the weekly writing challenges, and donate.