Questionable: How Do You Organize Your Computer Files for a Book?

Questionable

 

Brooke asked: “How do you keep all your notes and changes and drafts organized? I’m guessing you don’t overwrite each draft entirely. I’m getting stuck in the weeds and confused by my not-clearly-marked files.” Organization. Ha. Here’s where I am right now with my Nita folder: Taking a break now to clean that up . . . Here’s what I need: • Easy access to the files I’m working on right now: (Nita’s January Drafts, etc.) • All the files I’ve written that I might need to go back to in order to get something I cut or lost: Nita Drafts. • Notes I’ve made including pictures, floor plans, e-mails from experts, cut-and-paste from internet sources, etc.: Notes • Pieces of actual scene (not notes about scenes) that came to me and that I needed to get on the page before I forgot: Pieces • My Curio files, which include plot notes, collages, and anything else I need to mind map: Nita’s Curios So now the folder looks like this: Here’s what the folders look like open (except for the Notes folder): And here’s the Notes Folder open: So it’s still a mess, but it’s an organized mess. Plus I have learned through sad experience never to dump any file until the book goes to press. Once I know the pieces are slotted into the drafts, I’ll dump those, but otherwise, I keep everything just in case, until I have the actual book in my hand. Then I start dumping files. You want to see a real disaster, check out my Fiction Folder: And that’s just on this computer. God knows what’s lurking on the other two. I am not the person to follow for organizational advice, but this is how I do it.

28 thoughts on “Questionable: How Do You Organize Your Computer Files for a Book?

  1. That is pretty interesting. It looks like RL organization- everybody has their own system based on what they need most.

    My system is based on the horror I feel about losing something important. Since I’m not always sure what is important, I keep almost everything.

    I’ve been doing a bit of an inbox delete-a-thon, going back YEARS. You know what was the toughest? Every single Argh email. Had to be ruthless.

    Still dealing with the mopes. Send vibes.

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    1. Sorry for mopes, Sure Thing. The best “cures” I know for the mopes are sunshine, exercise, & a cute furry face. And if those fail, a teeny tiny square of dark chocolate. Hoping you find your own “cures” soon:)

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    2. *hug* I know how you feel about worrying about losing something important. It’s an issue for me, too. I will *never* be an “inbox zero” person and I’m okay with that.

      Lots of love.

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    3. Really sorry about the mopes. I was putting mine down to January blues, but you remind me that in fact they’re probably just blues – since they’re liable to strike me in midsummer too. Although it does help me then to get outside as much as possible – grubbing around in my garden, or lazing under a tree. Hope you catch a wave soon.

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    4. KatyL is correct. A study has shown that looking at cute baby animals will improve a person’s mood. I suggest cuteoverload.com

      Praying your mopes disappear!

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    5. I am really sorry about the mopes. We are having mopes here too the closer we get to January 20.

      If you want a good laugh, think of it here in Portland (Oregon). The last time I remember snow on the ground for more than a week was 30 years ago. We have a foot of snow and there are NO snow plows. Some cars are on the road (skiers who need chains and studded tires to get to the slopes). My friend just called to sigh that her little Audi TTS only has 5 inches of clearance and can’t handle the drifts. Lots of cross-country skiers and snow shoers out making grocery runs. So much brave pioneer spirit. The next thing you know we will breaking the Conestoga wagons out of the back sheds and heading out to Starbucks for out lattes.

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        1. Portland and Seattle have always been a little competitive. Up north, where they had no snow during this storm, the newspaper has been running articles about how they have charitably lent some snow plows to Portland to help us cope (Thanks but GRRRR).

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  2. My mother sent me a link to this amazing press in the north woods, and it occurred to me you and other Arghers would like to look:

    https://kenspeckleletterpress.com/

    I like the idea of buying, online, an Artistic License or a Poetic License, but the woodcuts are the things I keep going back to, just to look at. There is a whole series of prints that are like the illustrations from a Chris Van Allsberg book, with no associated text, just the illustrations, and the story happens in your own head as you stare into them like windows – The Trapper’s Daughter – and while I kind of wish she had her own title or name, I absolutely recognize her.

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  3. I’ve wiped myself out this week by trying to archive three years of research notes from my iPad into a reorganized filing system on my Mac, getting sucked into internet research on a new camera system, and also (for the day job) proof-reading 60 pages of notes and references, mostly in German, which I don’t speak. I’ve just finished the notes, and must now take two or three days off, although I really want to knock the research thing on its head, too.

    I love it when everything’s organized, but I suspect I spend too much time (being an editor) when I finally get round to sorting my chaos.

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    1. Honestly, I think if you have organized folders on the first level, you can find almost anything. Second level folders are just gravy.

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      1. I’ve mainly been simplifying the first level, along with my physical filing system – so it’s easier to file stuff. Over the years, I’d sprouted too many buckets.

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    1. Scrivener looks like this:

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/q2by8zl1q3u47uc/Screenshot%202017-01-13%2007.59.56.png?dl=0

      Or at least, mine does, for this project, currently. People have mixed experiences with Scrivener and it *is* a complicated program, but I write out of order and have tons of worldbuilding — the trouble of setting it up has been well worth the time saved in reorganizing at will and having everything I need *right there*. Your milage may vary, to each their own, etc.

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      1. I like the idea of Scrivener, but it doesn’t work for me. The software is great, it’s just now how I think. I think I’m too sloppy for it.

        Curio is perfect for the way I work. I can’t keep my text in there, but it’ll hold a lot of notes and pictures and diagrams, and Word does the rest.

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        1. I tried it three times (even attempting a class) and just decided it made my brain hurt. Since writing already makes my brain hurt, I gave up and just use a bunch of Word files.

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  4. You guys are the best. This is why I keep coming back here.

    The very day I posted the vibe request I went outside and just sat on the floor in our yard against the wall, with my dog. He’s an affection-hog – he’ll move his head under your hand to make you keep you hand on his head.

    I sat for an hour as the summer rain started with big fat spread out drops and reminded myself I’m not helpless. So I resolved to sleep better (earlier) and do yoga daily again. It is really helping!

    Thanks again.

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    1. Yay!

      Wednesday I attended my first-ever yoga class. It ended with a meditation where the instructor went around putting lavender eye masks on everyone. We got up feeling relaxed, and then I had to shove my way out of the room and race across the parking lot and squeal home to throw a giant sweater over everything and run to a meeting. Where I realized the lavender, or maybe the eye mask material, had given me hives.

      We’ll see what happens next Wednesday.
      Meanwhile, glad you’re feeling better.

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    1. That always freaks me out, gaining and losing days across time zones. Coming back from Australia, I had two Tuesdays. It was weird. Of course I’d lost a day going the other way, but me losing a day is not all that unusual.

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  5. Thank you so much, Jenny. It’s incredibly generous of you, as always. I know everyone organizes differently, but looking at this post made me realize that I don’t do a lot of separate folders and then files, which may be part of the reason I’m having trouble at the moment. I have large documents with general names with a lot of stuff thrown in them. I’ll have to think about this.

    Really, thanks again!

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  6. The problem with essential oils is that they are the essence in concentrated form. And while lavender and tea tree oils are the only two that can be used “neat” aka undiluted, they are dangerous if used incorrectly.

    Sometimes the actual plants cause a reaction too. Especially over sensitive areas like eyes.

    I luurrve essential oils but know that I get allergic mucus production if I use too much in wrong concentrations. I always dilute in a carrier oil – I prefer grapeseed. Then I dilute that in water and use the water in an atomiser or oil burner.

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    1. Jenny, you may be perfectly fine. And Sure Thing, what a good approach.

      To be fair to the instructor, she used the plant, not the oil, and made it easy to opt out. Plus, I knew I was taking a chance; my immune system considers most of the world a threat (“Polyester??? NO! NOT THAT!”). Just another lesson learned.

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  7. I’ve gotta say, it’s really nice to see how other people do it. I am not very organized at all, but my searchbox pretty much fetches almost everything I need to see. I’ve been trying harder in the last two years about dating files when I save them, and including at least two tags in the title — if I forget one, maybe the other will come up.

    I can’t find the searchbox in my husband’s Windows 10, so I’m quite worried about my next computer. If I gave up the internet, I could go back to Windows XP and toodle along there indefinitely as far as word processing goes.

    I would bookmark this, except I’ve got such a huge pile of bookmarks that I’d never find it again. I’ll just have to remember this so I can google it when I finally have the courage to organize. Your organization of what I term “bits and pieces” looks like it would be very helpful for me.

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