I’ve always liked to consider myself an organized person. For example, I use the geologic filing system for all important papers. Everything is on my desk in a pile with the oldest material on the bottom, the newest on top. This actually works quite well, until I tidy things up and put everything someplace where I will remember where it is. (Ha!)
Computers are supposed to make organization better. That may be true in theory, but I can’t seem to get my practice in line with that. I usually end up with documents, links, and other bits and pieces of information spread out all over my computer. It takes just as long or longer to find things on my computer as it does on my desk.
When I’m working on a writing project, that won’t do, especially when it comes to numerous rewrites and edits that occur during the creative process. It took awhile, but I finally worked out a simple way to keep track of where I am.
I keep a folder on my desktop named for the book I’m working on. Inside that folder are subfolders: chapters, cover, end matter, front matter, images, research, and Zim files. Zim is a desktop wiki which I find invaluable for notes, outlines, deleted cuts, and keeping track of links.
The folder I access most often while I’m writing is chapters. Like most writers, I tweak a chapter every time I read it. I’ve discovered, however, that days later I sometimes don’t like my tweaks as well as my original. If I’ve been continually overwriting a chapter, the best I can do is hope my memory can get the words back.
I’ve learned that the easiest way to keep track of what I’ve written in the past is to save the chapter under today’s date as soon as I open it anew. I have a series of the same chapter, all dated according to when I worked on it. All available to go back to compare and pick and choose what best says what I want to say.
Simple, I know. But sometimes it takes awhile of experimenting with systems to figure out that simplest is always the best.