Writers, how do you organize writing files and papers?

It’s late, so very late and I am once again desperate for something to publish thanks to the #back2blog challenge.

As I crawl through all the unsorted text files on my computer and through more than forty drafts in WordPress, I say to myself: «That’s crap. That’s not ready. Ah, that’s just a funny title and no more. Oh, I can never publish this». I begin to question the sanity of my process — and my own. Writing is bound to be messy. Some of that will show in the writer’s file organisation, I know. However, there has to be better systems out there.

So, I would like to seize this opportunity to ask you #back2blog participants and other writers how you keep your writing organized.

Many years ago, I’d print out and keep every version of every piece of teenage-angst poetry in a single giant binder. This binder’s subdivisions matched with the folders and subfolders in my computer. The system blew up when puberty hit, I think. I started writing pages upon pages of prose and couldn’t afford all that paper anymore.

In adopting Getting Things Done, I banned grey binders for yellow Manilla folders. Altough my reference material, my financial and other administrative documents are better organized than ever, my writing’s a mess.

If you would be so kind, please, tell me how you do it. In the comments, on your blog, in a private e-mail. Just tell me. If your writing’s messy, how do you cope? And if you have a system to keep your writing under control in your computer and out, how does it work?

6 commentaires

  1. Stephanie Booth · mars 13, 2013

    I don’t have that much writing lying around, to be honest. Most of what I spew out I publish in my blog. Otherwise, I keep bits and pieces and drafts and half-assed attempts at whatever in Evernote. Not sure if this is much help.

  2. Evren Kiefer · mars 13, 2013

    It does help 🙂 I’ll try to integrate Evernote in my workflow again, it keeps coming up. Thanks!

  3. Kantutita · mars 13, 2013

    Interesting question!

    Like Stephanie, I’m fond of Evernote! I use it for storing ideas for blog posts, important contacts, documentation for my next story as a journalist or sometimes even to keep a food recipe. Everything is tidy thanks to the different folders…

    I really like writing on paper, actually, so I also store a list of blog post ideas in a notebook dedicated to that. Or two actually. Ok, I’m not so tidy, I confess, I also have a lot of post-it notes around my desk… I lack discipline!! Then, for fiction writing, I have a folder on my computer… which I haven’t touched for a lot of time. The short stories I like best are also printed and put in a real-life binder. However, I might throw it away the next time I move, and only keep the digital versions…

  4. WriterCath (@WriterCath) · mars 13, 2013

    I scribble in notebooks (one for general writing and project-specific ones for books), but after an idea becomes more than a “hmm, I wonder,” it goes into Scrivener (again master and novel-specific projects). Within the master Scrivener project, I have folders for different types of writing (articles, blogs, short stories, &c), which are sorted by submission status.

    For example, an idea sparks from a daily writing and hangs out for awhile in the Ideas folder because it could grow up to be anything. Perhaps it grows into a draft article, so moves into Works In Progress > Articles. When it grows up more, Submitted > Articles, and so on.

    If an idea becomes a book and needs its own space (is it buying new Ikea furniture as well?!), I can easily export the book folder to its own project. I’ve used this method for non-fiction projects (such as user guides and web content) and for novels.

    Rearranging is drag-and-drop, you have completely customizable keywords and searching, and you can keep your research in it as well. I particularly like that compiling work into different formats, including for electronic readers, is easy.

    I don’t own Scrivener stock or even know the team, but I’ve used the product for a number of years and adore it.

  5. Evren Kiefer · mars 13, 2013

    I hear only good things about Scrivener 🙂 Last time I tried it their Linux bêta wasn’t ready for use. I’ll give it another go.

    Categorizing by completion status and type is a great idea. Thanks!

  6. Jean-François Jobin · mars 13, 2013

    Je viens d’écrire un post à la gloire de Scrivener http://wp.me/p2xc2h-di.
    C’est en lisant le billet ci-dessus que j’ai pensé en parler. Je ne savais pas que l’éditeur travaillait sur une version Linux.

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