The Sticky Note Chunking Method to Slaying Edits: One Note at a Time

Edits can be overwhelming. Even more so when you’re getting detailed feedback, sometimes from more than one person at a time. It’s easy to get lost in the details and lose track of valuable comments. Here’s a quick breakdown of a method I’ve been using to tackle my most recent beta feedback.

I call it The Sticky Note Chunking Method to Slaying Edits: One Note at a Time.

You’ll need:

  • Feedback from your betas (Obviously.)
  • A month-to-month calendar (I’m using a magnetic whiteboard one)
  • Small (This is important both depending on the size of your calendar and to ensure that you aren’t getting overwhelmed)
  • A bold (I recommend felt-tip) pen of the color of your choosing
  • A dry-erase marker for happy checkmarks of work completed

In its essence, this method uses chunking to break up your edits into individual tasks that can be done one task at a time. It’s really helpful if your betas are extra awesome and have given you chapter-by-chapter feedback. This way you can start by labeling your sticky note with the chapter number and then write what you need to fix underneath. I used two different colors of sticky notes to differentiate one chapter from the next, by the way. This was particularly helpful when a chapter needed more than one things fixed, which happened often. Try to go as chronologically as you can.

Once you have two or three notes, start layering them. Start with the first thing you need to do on top, then put the next note behind it, just letting the chapter titles overlap on top, like so:

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Make sure you can still see chapter titles on top, so you can keep track. Also, for the office supply geeks: I am using PaperMate Flair pens for my note-writing.

Do this for all of your edits. While layering notes, I also broke up my daily editing load. I’ve found that a good rule of thumb to avoid overload and allow for the eventuality that you might not get through all of your edits on a given day is to layer a maximum of five notes per day. That way your daily load stays manageable. Also, remember to go chronologically, meaning that each new stack of notes for each new day should have the first thing you are going to do on that day on top.

Once you’re done, stick your notes to your calendar. Mine looked like this once I was done:

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With bonus character sketches curtesy of an awesome writer friend of mine. Also, yes, my writing space is whiteboard central. I know. 

Now you’re all set. Just make sure to work on one thing at a time. Once you’re done with that thing, enjoy that cathartic moment of taking off that sticky note and throwing it away. Sometimes with a flourish. (You know you’ve earned it.)

Also, because I’m visual like that, I check off each day that I’ve managed to hit my editing goals with a green dry-erase marker. Forget gold stars for elementary students, this here twenty-eight-year-old lives for green checkmarks on her calendar.

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(Go ahead, laugh now. Soon you will see, this is genius.)

Oh, and if you get behind or something else comes up that you need to add? Don’t panic. Just make a sticky and add it to your existing stack of edits. Just make sure that you don’t let it interfere with whatever you are working at the moment. No skipping to another sticky note before you’re done.

So that’s it, the Sticky Note Chunking Method to Slaying Edits: One Note at a Time. Have fun. Color-code. Go, slay some edits.