This is in part for my friend Mumbletoes (check out his poetry, by the way!) because he asked how I organise myself as a writer. I told him, and then realised…ok, I’m actually pretty organised. So I figured it would make a good article for here, too!
The aim of all this is to track your writing in whatever way suits you best. These are the methods that work for me – and I’ll give you the disclaimer now that they won’t work for everyone. You need to work out what’s going to suit you and your headspace, and adapt whatever you use to your own ways of working.
So, these are the methods I use to track work in progress, submissions, and my workflow.
Work In Progress
- Folders in my computer. I have a “Writing” folder, and from there, I organise partly by genre and partly by novel. I have “Shadow Series” and “GreenSky” folders, which contain all the stories for those two sets, but I also have “Short Stories” and “Erotica” folder, which are a mish-mash. It helps me keep everything apart, and means when I’m hunting for the thing I want to work on, I know where it is.
- Backups. I use Google Drive (which was also very useful when I wanted to work in two places at once, as I was able to work online) and Dropbox. If you don’t have reliable access to the internet and you work out and about, get a mini usb – and seriously, BACK UP YOUR WORK.
- Trello. I started using Trello as a web design work tool, but it works for everything! There’s different things out there that do similar things – Asana is another – but I’ve found that Trello works for me. The basic idea is that you create lists, and then create cards within those lists – so I have one for short stories, things in editing, finished…and then I can move those cards between lists, add comments and checklists, and add dates. It’s a very customisable system.
- I have a spreadsheet. Name of the story, genre/world, original submissions call with a link to that page, and then a whole set of “Submitted To, Date, Answer, Date” columns. It means that I can track who I’ve sent the story to, when, and their response – which means that I don’t risk sending the same story to a publication that’s already rejected it, because that would be BAD. I also keep track of any comments – so if anyone rejects a specific story but asks to see more of my work, I note it!
- I also use my calendar to track submission dates and open periods – so, for example, I found out in the summer that Angry Robot have an open subs period this Nov/Dec (currently ongoing for anyone with a sci-fi or fantasy novel, by the way!) and marked that on my calendar. It means I’ll get notified and actually look at it – whereas I know I would miss it if I put it on my spreadsheet or Trello! That said, I do mark short story calls on Trello with their dates, so again, it’s whatever’s going to work for you.
- You can also use things like Ralan, Submittable and The Submissions Grinder to track submissions as well as find them – I admit I simply can’t read the formats there so I don’t use them, but if it works for you, go for it.
Organising Files that You’re Submitting
- Mark your obsolete files. I use “DNU” (do not use) at the start of a file, or have an “archive” folder. It’s for anything that is an obsolete version that I don’t necessarily want to get rid of, I just don’t want to mix it up with my current versions. This is really good if you have a tendency to completely restart projects.
- Version numbers is useful too – save your file with a v1, v2, final, proofread, sold at the end – whatever’s going to tell you what state that file is in. Having multiple versions of a file is absolutely fine as long as you know which one you’re working on – and how to find that really cool bit that you just deleted, duh!
- I also mark the sold stories! I’ll usually archive the entire folder (or all copies of that story) just so I don’t see it and get confused, and then sell a previous version of an already-sold story someplace else.
Keeping Track of Progress
- I use Author WordCount Plugin by Scott Grant, which gives me a little widget on my blog *points to the sidebar*. You put in your project, estimated wordcount and current wordcount, and it draws a nice little line. I’ve also used it for books read and rejections received, and it’s a nice way of seeing your progress – or in this case, lack of.
- The NaNoWriMo site also has new wordcount goal trackers that you can use to chart your specific projects.
- I’m sure there are some wordcount apps too…anyone use any good ones?
So, that’s most of my organisation….what do you use? Any tips and tricks to keep everything organised and motivate yourself to write – or read, or do the chores…after all, you can adapt most organising methods to anything else!