Organizing A Disorganized Mind

Here’s something every writer deals with: How do you keep your work organized? I was thinking about this recently, and thinking about all the answers I’ve gotten to this question from writers in the past. It’s interesting to see just how much people vary in the ways they keep their work/notes organized. So, I thought I’d share mine with you!

1) Laptop – The first and obvious (for me, anyway) choice of where to keep my current WIP and any ideas I have for future work is on the computer (and backed up on a USB and Google Drive). Though I have been burned in the past, (seriously, complete computer crash with zero hopes of having it fixed for various reasons and nothing backed up anywhere), I’m much better about backing my work up now. I sometimes like to write longhand (see below), but not always. Obviously, writing is much faster using the laptop, so if I need to get a large chunk of the story out, then I prefer the computer. Now you must understand this requires a sort of sub-categories section:

  • Document file w/ current WIP
  • Document file w/ notes on world
  • Document file w/ notes on characters
  • Document file(s) w/ new story ideas/dialogue (Sometimes I hear a line in my head that begs for attention. I actually wrote one of my Fantasy novels on the basis of a line I couldn’t stop thinking about.)

2) Notebook/Paper – A journal of sorts I suppose you could say. I always have one on me somewhere. Whether it’s just a small one in my purse or a larger one I carry in one of my extra bags I always seem to have, I always make sure there’s one with me. If I don’t have my laptop with me, I can at least still get the ideas down. Some people will ask why I don’t just use the Notepad app on my phone. I’ll tell you, because I don’t like to. Texting/messaging is one thing, but I refuse to keep notes on my phone for my writing. Ugh, imagine how long it would take me to write out part of a story using only my thumbs?! (I text pretty fast, but I have no desire to write even part of my story this way. I’m just weird like that.) If I’m going to take the long way around, I might as well just use a pen and paper. That’s just how I feel about it anyway. I do use Google Drive on my phone to read over certain parts of a WIP or check out my notes document(s) if I need to reference something. It’s a very handy tool. Also I have scrap pieces of paper; old receipts, parts torn off an envelope or larger piece of paper, that I jot notes down on if I don’t feel like digging through my runaway bag purse for my notebook.

3) My Brain – Odd place to keep things, I know. Sometimes I do get lucky and don’t have to write some of the ideas I have down. Sometimes, they just stick with me and refuse to be forgotten. Thank goodness for that! Although, my memory is getting pretty bad year after year. It’s kind of annoying really. I once had an idea in my head, for The Occult Collection this was, that I didn’t write down. It kept nagging at me like you wouldn’t believe. Every time I tried to think about something else, this idea would intrude in some way. Finally, I relented. I typed out everything I had in my head. It took a little while for everything to go away. I do believe I was typing for about three hours that day before it was all out on the page (screen, whatever).

So, that’s my little bit of info on how I keep my ideas, at least somewhat, organized. Some of the document files don’t look nearly as organized as they should, but at least the WIP’s don’t look too shabby. They have a rather generic manuscript format to them; double-spaced, 12 pt. Courier font, 1″ margins, cover page, header, etc. Maybe one of these days I’ll stop writing notes down on random scraps of paper and just keep it all in one place, but I wouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon.

So tell me, how do you keep your ideas organized?

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13 thoughts on “Organizing A Disorganized Mind

  1. I think the best way that I’ve managed to keep organized, so far, has been Google Drive. All my data is automatically saved in a cloud, so if any hardware fails, it’s safe, and you can create folders on there to keep sections organized, as well.

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    • I absolutely adore using Google Drive. On the off chance I do decide to update my WIP and I don’t have anything other than my phone handy, I love being able to open my Drive app and get to work. Plus, as you said, it’s awesome to be able to have in case of a hardware failure.

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      • I write almost exclusively on Google Drive these days. However, at times I like writing on small paper surfaces with colored ink. Perhaps it stimulates something in my brain, but I feel like some of my better ideas happen when I do that. I have post-it notes all over the place as a result. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • I have pens in so many different colors for when I write longhand. It’s strange, but sometimes I think I am more productive when I write using them. Perhaps it’s just the mood I’m in at the time, but the work seems to come out more easily and it feels like I’m having more fun with my writing.

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      • I agree. Writing in pink ink has produced the most creativity in me, even though it isn’t my favorite color. I suppose it’s so vibrant that it cheers me up, and gives me the energy to carry on. Orange has a similar effect, but I haven’t been able to find a nice orange pen. I usually use highlighters or markers for orange colored inks.

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      • Longhand is definitely important. While technology is very important, I feel that pen and paper is used to create a more intimate environment between the writer and his/her work.

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  2. Good list. I need a laptop. I didn’t mind sharing the computer with the Mr. until I started writing. Now I want it available to me all the time. Multiple journals…good one. I am glad you liked my post The writing. It sounds like your profile statement!

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