Monday, March 14, 2011

Necessary Business

For the past several weeks, I've been reorganizing my filing system for writing-related materials. So far, I've divided a ton of papers into the following categories:

Publishers (alphabetical within categories)
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Ezines
  • Anthologies
Writing (subcategories having to do with craft, genre, print copies of contracts, etc.)

Research (all materials collected in the course of writing various pieces, alphabetical)

Marketing (subcategories from Amazon Affiliates to Virtual Marketing, alphabetical)

Short Stories (printed and ready for submission when the right venue presents itself)

I've made a huge investment in time, not to mention file folders in various colors, hanging folders, and printed labels. Also, I recycled many items which were no longer useful and weren't going to be useful in the foreseeable future into the paper I use to print pages for my critique partner to read, slash, make notes on, etc. (I just wish ink cartridges could get such double use!)

It was past time to get organized. Scrabbling through folders, notebooks, and loose papers just wasn't working. I looked at my personal files, neatly labeled and available, and realized that my writing had to be just as important as my personal business. If I don't spend time looking for a copy of a bill and receipt, for example, why should I spend time hunting down that great article on crafting characters?

Usually, when I'm working on a novel, I store all the notes, outlines, and research in three-prong folders labeled with the working title of the book. That continues to be a good system, but when the book is finished, the information worth keeping for future projects needs to be filed appropriately.

I won't say the system is perfect yet, but it's getting there. At least I feel confident that when I need information on antebellum architecture, for example, it will be waiting in the folder labeled RESEARCH - A.
If I want to consider the viability of using Virtual Reading Communities as a marketing tool, I can find it in the folder labeled MARKETING - Virtual Reading Communities. If I'm not sure about 'fair use', I can double-check my facts under WRITING - F.

How do you organize your writing files?


Jennifer Jakes said...

Well you make me hang my "pantser" head in same. I sit on my sofa, Thesaurus by my side......and write.
I don't outline, or take many notes - I might scribble some in a notebook....
See. Shameful. But yours sounds beautifully organized! :)
Good topic!!!

Judy said...

Actually, I'm a pantser, too, Jennifer. I make notes and organize research--even go so far sometimes as to outline--but I end up 'pantsing' it most of the time so far as plot is concerned!

Lynne Roberts said...

Wow! I'm impressed. I wish I could be so organized!

I have a file titled "Ideas" where I keep bits and pieces that may or may not end up a story. Once it's a full fledged idea, I give it its own folder and, like Jennifer, sit down and just start writing. Once I have the main ideas down, then I go back and edit, etc, and really craft the story.