Some writers are well organized. But for those like me, trying to find something when you need it can be like wading through quicksand. On that note, I thought I’d share my simple but effective method of organization.
Some writers are well organized and have little trouble – if any – finding what they need: research, drafts, rewrites, what have you. Those like me, however, run the risk of going mad while trying to find that elusive piece of data. Since this equals less time spent writing, not to mention unnecessary stress, I found a way to organize things without getting too loose or too rigid.
First of all, I took all the writing I’d done in longhand or on a typewriter and copied it into the computer. It takes time, but it means quicker retrieval and it lessens the chance of losing anything, once it’s backed up. Also, it saves space – the thousands of pages in notebooks that sat like cumbersome stones around my house now sit comfortably on discs. Once I backed it all up, I removed it from the hard disk, to keep down on clutter and to save space on the computer. I have more than one copy on CD, though, for you never know what might happen.
Any work in progress, of course, stays on the computer, even though I back it up anew each time I save it. And I have several things going at once. When you write in several areas – such as a novelist who freelances on the side – organization can be a lifesaver.
One of my CDs contains books or book ideas that are more fantasy-oriented. Another holds writing that’s more science fiction. And I have one that’s set aside for a science fiction/fantasy series to which I’ve devoted most of my time. The CDs are labeled and housed in a case by my desk, within easy reach and with every piece or idea noted, so I don’t have to hunt for anything.
Right now, I’ve got two folders in my computer for writing. One is labeled “Online Articles,” and the other, “Fiction.” Both folders are in the “My Documents” section (I run Windows XP). In “My Documents,” though, I have stand-alone files I’ve created for writing exercises and anything that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere yet. (Writers always have offhand phrases that come out of nowhere. We often have no clue what to do with them but we write them down anyway, hoping they’ll work with something eventually.)
If you write for several different web sites, as I do, you might want to create a folder for each web site, or sub-folders within a main one. Either way, each folder or sub-folder should be labeled so that you know which site it’s for, and it should contain only the work you’ve done for that site.
The simplest method of organizing your work is to arrange everything in alphabetical order. My computer arranges things this way automatically, so I don’t have to worry about it. Some may find it better to organize by title, date of publication, date of completion, or whatever. Figure out what works for you, get to know your computer, and start sorting things out. Take advantage of your computer’s user-friendliness and make new folders. It’s certainly made my life easier. Besides that, you don’t have to back up your files individually when you store them on disc; just back up the folder that contains those files. If they’re organized to your liking on the computer, then they will be on the disc with no extra hassle.