Following up on A.J. Paquette's post on lists, index cards perform similar psychological and organizational functions. I use index cards in several ways. I enjoy writing down brief plot points, spreading them out on a table and shuffling them around. It almost feels as if I'm conducting an index-card symphony--the concreteness of handling the cards gives me a sense of the plot's high points and low points and crescendos. I also use index cards for jotting down ideas for a particular project, stuffing them into a folder until later. Just knowing all those ideas (good or bad!) are pulsating inside that folder, waiting for subsequent drafts, allows me to continue moving forward with my story.
Something about using index cards makes me feel as if I'm in control of my ephemeral, unpredictable, worrisome rough draft, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?
And anyway, it's another excuse to roam through a stationery store. Index cards come in all colors and sizes (even 1/2 sizes!) In a 1967 Paris Review interview, Vladimir Nabokov said, "My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.” Only other stationery store groupies would understand the joy in that.
Are you "particular about your instruments" too?