The other night I described this method to my friend Mike Albo and he said, “You jerk! Why didn’t you tell me about this ten years ago?”* So, I’m telling you now.
I keep a journal of my novel that is just about the novel–any ideas, questions, thoughts, lines, even just entries like “page 77 is still a problem!” or “return to page 13!” I make the entry, even if it’s just a few lines, every day of work on it as I close the day’s work, and I also put scraps in there, deleted sections and lines I want to save. If I’m working on an edit like I am now with a master copy, I include the page number from the master.
When I return to work the next day, I reread that entry first and I return to where I was and what I was thinking about the more quickly. This is in addition to the writing notes I keep on my phone.
The journal I call a “workjournal” and it is a MSWord doc, and each new entry is entered at the top of the first page, a method I learned from blogging actually, so that the most recent entry is visible immediately when I open the doc–the oldest entry is at the end. This is because a MSWord doc opens right to page 1 always, and this way I am not scrolling past old entries to get to the one I need to remind me of where I left off.
I also keep any outlines or structural thoughts here, I keep lists of themes, etc. It’s all in there. The one for The Queen of the Night is very long right now, almost the same length as the novel. Please, try it out. Tell me how it works for you.
*This is how Mike expresses affection.