Writers: How Do You Stay Organized? #MondayBlogs #amwriting

It’s one thing to write a first draft of anything — short story, novel, essay — and save it to a hard drive or to iCloud or to Dropbox or to Goggle Docs or to a thumb drive. That’s one document saved somewhere. But when you have several short stories and a few drafts of each one, or perhaps a few versions of one novel, how do you organize your writing?

Currently, I’m using Dropbox which was fine until I needed to find some stories I had written years ago. I thought I had saved everything to Dropbox but … of course, I hadn’t. In searching for these old nuggets of gold on my hard drive, I found duplicates galore. The same story saved in multiple locations, but not the version I was looking for. I eventually found what I wanted but it was a nail-biting experience.

Over the years, I’ve had to adjust how I organize my files, and I know I’ve lost some in the process. Going from floppy disks (I’m that old) to 3.5 hard disks to various iterations of the Cloud. It’s appealing to use the Cloud and believe that I can access my work from any computer anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection. Of course, when you have an internet connection but the vendor’s server goes down, you’re screwed.

So my challenge is two-fold: (1) organize my writing so I can find what I want when I want it; and (2) find a reliable location to store my work.

I would really love to know what you do to store and organize your writing. I know I could learn from you. Please share in the comments section.

26 thoughts on “Writers: How Do You Stay Organized? #MondayBlogs #amwriting

  1. I save everything to my hard drive and to One Drive online. When I have different versions of something, or even when I add to a manuscript as I’m writing it, I save it as a new file every day with the current date in the file name. Then I can always find the most current update.

    • Thanks, Linda, that’s where I’m headed. I hadn’t looked at my files in so long and had no idea just how disorganized I had become! I’m very organized at work, but in my personal life, quite a bit less πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m not too attached to saving different versions of various short stories. I used to number drafts of the Word documents I made, but that was ages ago. I’m using Scrivener for larger projects, like my daily gratitude and former GoFundMe posts. That way I can easily click back and forth between drafts when needed. But mostly I stick with Word for small files since exporting them from Scrivener is too much effort. I do save on my hard drive, on OneDrive, as well as a Flashdrive.

    • I’m getting into the habit of saving to a Flashdrive as well as Dropbox. I’ll probably switch to iCloud eventually since all my home devices are Apple. I just came across several drafts of one story I wrote in 2007. Apparently I was more anal-retentive back then πŸ˜‰

  3. I’m a big believer in keeping documents in multiple formats, so if one format becomes inaccessible as technology changes, I can access the document using another format.

    • Thanks, Sheryl! Indeed, as some formats become obsolete, one is forced to maintain multiple copies. I do that already with Word and Pages (Apple), and some of that is simply because I use Macs at home and PCs at work.

  4. Basically anything having to do with computer file storage can be wrapped up in the word: Redundancy. However you choose to ‘name’ the files really is a personal thing (I tend to date my edits and wips then after they are incorporated into what I consider a ‘final’ draft, I then put into the ‘final file’ with the final/latest date). I then periodically delete the earliest dated drafts as I feel comfortable in doing so…I hate clutter!
    However, the storage of those files should be backed up in a variety of ways – contrary to popular belief, the internet is not ‘forever’, so putting all your eggs (files) in just the cloud as a backup-basket is dicey – add a thumbdrive or two to the mix and maybe hard copy for ‘specials’ and that’s the start of ‘redundancy’ working in your favor!
    But I tend to be very old school…
    I know, I know: TMI

    • No, not TMI at all! I like your suggestions. Definitely some work in all that but the frustration over searching for an original version of a story is something I’d like to avoid in the future. And definitely the internet is not forever, nor are these cloud services completely reliable. Old school is safer πŸ˜‰

  5. I am having a bad day in a bad week. No reason why, really. I’m just so crabby and tired of messes and chaos and chittering strangers on the phone. I really need some peace and quiet, I think! Anyway, i am trying to organize my actual files, but it is going to take me WEEKS. And then there are the computer files. It’s all too much. I have a folder called WRITING and then subfolders within that. I try to organize how it makes sense, but I still am always missing something and doing searches. Sometimes I never find what I am looking for.

    • I’m so sorry you’re feeling bad, Luanne! Sounds like you do need some Me time! I have a folder called Writing as well. That was my first big attempt at organizing. But I have one on my hard drive and one in Dropbox and I thought all the writing I had on my hard drive was also in Dropbox but … it’s not. So. Sigh. And now Mark Paxson has reminded me that I should probably back up my drive anyway … sometimes I don’t like technology. I hope you feel better soon!

  6. The only way I’ve been able to do it is through not even having to think about it…I use Google Docs for all of my writing projects, so I can find everything there.

    And here comes the “But…” If I need to export to .docx or some format like that, which I always do, it can wind up on my work PC or Dropbox or my Chromebook or wherever I happen to need the file at the time. Then it gets really bad. πŸ™

    • Ha ha … your comment makes me feel better, Phillip! At least I can access Google Docs at work, which is helpful if I want to write during lunch and not have to drag my iPad and keyboard around. The “But,” though … eventually those documents have to wind up someplace else for formatting, etc.

  7. I’m not the most organized person in the world. I save my documents on Google Drive and on the hard drive. I also have an external drive that I back things up to occasionally. Which reminds me.

    But, that’s about it. There’s no organization in the drives where I save these things. Just documents with names. Plus, I don’t save different drafts. If I edit something the new, edited version becomes the story that’s saved on all those drives. When I first started writing I used a flash drive for back up. So I have a couple of flash drives laying around with stuff from way back when.

    • Is there a difference between Google Drive and Google Docs (showing my age again)? That’s part of what makes me feel disorganized. I’ve been using Dropbox only because it was used in an online class I took. But I can’t access it from work (firewall), although I can access Google Docs. The downside is the internet is not always available. I have an external drive … which reminds me (too). Thanks for sharing. At least I’m feeling less disorganized πŸ˜‰

        • Google does confuse me at times. I hear Google+ is going away which is okay by me, but that’s one of the things about current technology that bothers me: it’s not forever.

  8. Great topic! I store files on my thumb drive and transfer to another computer. The computer backs files up to OneDrive. I remember the floppy disk days. It’s fun to ask millennials if they know what a floppy disk is and see their confusion. 😁

    I also number drafts of my story files. That’s how I know how many drafts I’ve done.

    • Thanks, L. Marie. I was using thumb drives for a while … note that it’s plural πŸ˜‰ Yup, I have had drafts of one WIP spread across multiple thumb drives. And then I have to remember where I put them (which purse, which backpack). I think this is a problem for me now because I’m trying to retrieve work from many years ago and a couple of different computers ago. It’s like moving from one house to another and then to another and along the way, things get moved around.

      Where I work, we have plenty of millennials whose eyes glaze over whenever the “old-timers” start talking about when they had to backup data on tape or cartridges πŸ˜‰

  9. I don’t do anything fancy. I just rely on document titles to organize my writes/rewrites. LIke:
    Lake monster story draft
    Lake monster story rewrite 1
    Lake monster story rewrite 2
    When only the end of the document title changes, I can see all the draft and rewrites at a glance because they aren’t scattered amongst a bunch of other documents.

    • Thanks, Priscilla. I think my biggest problem is I have too many places to store documents. It makes it confusing when I’m trying to work away from home. Some of these stories I wrote 20 years ago so they’ve been stored in different formats in different places over time. Makes me long for the days of my Smith-Corona typewriter πŸ˜‰

Comments are closed.