My System

I’ve had this stupid .jpg sitting on my desktop forever, waiting until I could write a “good post” about my writing organization system. I’m never going to write a good post so we’ll settle for a quickly dashed off one.

My writing organization system is a joke because my system is only partially implemented and includes old systems, side systems and system anomalies. Also it would bore the pants off of you if I explained all the intricacies of my system so, here, I’m just explaining the big chunks.

But this is the gist of the way I organize my stuff. For some reason having the folders display in that order seemed critical at some point. Probably because I didn’t want Abandoned and Awful at the top.

Published is self explanatory. “Otherwise Done” refers to stuff that’s done and has gone out into the world but was later trunked for one reason for another. I distinguish between a story that was finished but trunked and a story that was Abandoned and Awful. If I didn’t allow “Otherwise Done” in this folder it would practically float away it would be so empty.

Stories Submitted and Pending is self explanatory.

Stories Maybe Potential are first drafts, some very scanty first drafts, of stuff that I think might be worth fixing up into a finished story but I’m not actively working on right now.

Stories Working On are the stories I intend to finish and start submitting. Sometimes I get on a roll and I’ll move a bunch of stuff into this folder thinking that the stories are “so close” and that I’m going to have so much time to accomplish stuff. Then I’ll get in a rut and think writing is stupid and submitting stories stupider and I’m so slow there is no sense piling up all that stuff in this folder. [It only has one thing at the moment, in case you were curious.]

Stories Abandoned and Awful are labeled thusly so my biographers won’t look at them. They are terrible ideas, ideas that I couldn’t get to go anywhere, stupid characters and generally stuff that any normal person would throw away.

Except I tend to move stuff back and forth between Maybe Potential and Abandoned and Awful quite a bit. Every once in awhile I will see a scrap that in a moment of great optimism I think can be salvaged. And other times I will look at my great bit pile of optimism and rap on my skull with a blunt object.

I’ve been thinking about revising my system. I’m starting a novel in 2011 and I think there are scraps and characters filed in all sorts of places (e.g. the side systems) that I might be able to use. But then I think, in the time I waste trying to track down that brilliant scrap I could have written something new that fits better.

I can’t figure it all out right now.

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4 Responses to My System

  1. AEJ says:

    Are you going to write us all in as characters in your book? 😉

  2. Kira says:

    Your system is more of a system than mine.

    Do you ever find those little scraps of paper around that say things that you once must have thought brilliant? I recognize the urgency that the messy handwriting and general scrappiness of them presents, but I can rarely remember the brilliant thought that went with them. A few I have knocking around at the moment are:

    — After this there is no turning back. (generic, no?)
    — Sabatoge so you will raise my children (that’s the whole note)
    — Say how things are or make things how they are (that one might be dissertation related)
    — Goodnight, Neverland boy in yellow (no clue)

    It’s amazing to glimpse a Writer’s process, huh? Ugh.

  3. Marvin says:

    I like your system. 😉

  4. Keetha says:

    This is a *great* post. It’s something I wonder about, how other writers organize their files. I have tried a couple of different systems with varying degrees of success.

    I’m liking yours. Mind if I borrow it? I’ll make sure my biographers know to give you credit for the brilliant organizing system.

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