Friday, September 17, 2010

Calling all Scribes - riddle me this....

I have a question for my writer friends.  Exactly how do you manage to organize your WIP’s? 

I have about sixteen notebooks, most of them with little snippets of stories, conversations, characters, or plot lines.  And it’s so hard to keep them all together.

Do you have an organizing system?  I try to type them out and have a flash drive with them on it, but there are days that the mood just demands writing it out by hand the old fashioned way.  I know some people staple their scraps into another notebook, in random order.  But if that’s done, then when you want to continue it there’s no where for the subsequent notes to go.

I like the idea of trying to keep all my stuff together.  I hate having to search my books to find which one has the story I want to continue.  Often when I have to do that, I tend to lose what I wanted to write in the first place.

So, all you wonderful wordsmiths - how do YOU organize?  Got any tips for me?

3 horny thoughts:

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

I don't know how helpful I can be, as I don't do a lot of my work handwritten. If I do, it's generally on a particular project, and I transcribe it fairly quickly.

It kinds of depends on how your mind works. If you like hard copies, then make file folders: One for general story ideas, one for each specific story, one for each novel...whatever works for you and the way you organize. Then stuff the papers in the files as needed. If you have several things on a page, you could write them out on separate pages, cut the page in half, photocopy it, whatever.

However, if you prefer working on the computer and want something searchable, you could use a program like Notebook (Circus Ponies)* or Evernote.** The latter, which I'm looking forward to playing with, I believe allows tags, giving you yet another way to organize things.***

Or, you could just go old-school and use Word, again arranging things however your brain works.

*** I just noticed that these seem to be Mac-only apps, and I don't know if you have a Mac. But there are corresponding PC applications out there.

Dorla Moorehouse said...

I used to keep a spreadsheet of works in progress and submitted, but I was really bad about using it.

But I just started a new method. I got a HUGE dry erase board while dumpster-diving at my local university, and hung it on my wall. It's divided into six sections: "New Ideas," "Developing/Researching," "Drafting," "Revising," "Submitted," and "Limbo." (The limbo category is for stuff that it is waiting on a market, or has been rejected and not yet resubmitted). It's much easier for me to update since it's right there in front of me, and it's really helpful to see where my focus is at the moment. For example, right now it's clear by the board that I am developing a lot of new projects rather than writing or revising.

Delphine Dryden said...

It isn't a handwritten way, but I've had the most luck with a program called Scrivener that I think of as my brain if I were actually organized and intelligent! It's only available for Mac, but there's a very similar program for Windows/Linux, called PageFour, that I've also used and liked.

Both of these are fairly low-cost programs that are specifically designed to help writers organize their thoughts and write books. I've tried to explain to people how this is different than just using a bunch of files, but it really is a quantum difference, so I now just recommend getting a free trial (I believe both of them have free trials available) and giving it a whirl.