Now I’m not sure if it’s an oxymoron for a disorganized writer to talk about organization, but considering I’m trying to reform myself, I’ll give it a try.
I don’t know about you, but I find it tough to be organized as a writer. Sometimes I’m dealing with hundreds of story ideas, multiple drafts of a project, and even two or three books at a time. That’s a lot of computer files, paper, and general confusion. Frequently I find myself knowing I typed a scene, and it takes me hours to find it in the mix of multiple files.
Here’s some things I’m trying to incorporate in my own writing life to stay more organized:
- Keeping a “Story Ideas” file. I use this for any inspiration I have much like a writing journal. If I don’t have this file, I wouldn’t remember any ideas or be able to easily combine ideas to make an actual story. I can’t live without this file now and often just keep it open all the time as a reminder to write down ideas. I think when it starts to get bigger I’m going to have to start separating it, but right now it’s just one file that has a massive bullet list. I’ve just recently started categorizing ideas, such as “character” idea, “plot” idea, “setting” idea, “fashion” idea, etc, which should hopefully help when I’m trying to decide stuff for the next book. But I find the more ideas you write down (no matter how small they may be), the more inspired you get!
- Rename your new drafts something easy. I don’t do this, and I pay for it frequently. I rename files a lot, only because I hate the thought of loosing something. But I can never find previous draft info easily because I only change the computer file from Draft 1, Draft 2, etc. It might be helpful to try calling the renamed file something longer that’s more descriptive of what you are doing in this draft, which I’ve done a few times and it helps. Or at the very least rename them by date.
- Keep all your beginnings in one file (this is probably only necessary if you write a million beginnings like me). I’ve found this helps me see everything as one document and helps me choose and pick the most appropriate one. And if you are super organized you could even label them with your draft numbers. This is seperate from your draft files and only for comparison purposes, but I've found it's easier to decide stuff if it's copied into one file and you can look at it vertically together.
- Cuts file: I love this file, because I hate cutting stuff and thinking it will be gone forever. But I’ve found I will rename my drafts less and make them more organized if I have a large “cut file,” which is basically all the info/chapters/scenes/word, etc that get cut. All I do is physically divide each scene with a straight line, so it’s easy to find the separations, since some lines/scenes were cut chapters apart. Then near the end of revisions I just look over the cut file and make sure none of the info needs to be put back in.
What about you? Any tips for us on getting even more organized?
And does anyone else find it weird the minute it gets sunny that you feel the need to be more organized? Or is that just me?
--Emily, Miss Querylicious