1. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    Organization

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AJSmith, Mar 30, 2011.

    Just a quick question...

    So, in my everyday life, I'm organized to the point of compulsion. I always say that I'm like this because my mind is so unorganized. I'm a teacher, and there are plenty of unorganized teachers who function fine... I would not be one of them.

    Now to the point. So I begin writing this book a couple of years ago (with a couple of very long breaks), and all of my ideas are put down in one word document labeled "background information" or in this notebook I have that is fast filling up with setting sketches, characters, ideas, notes, time lines, etc... in no particular order.

    So during one of my frustrated moments, I buy a book on novel writing and read through it. It suggests keeping files, and all of these ways to keep organized during the writing. It talks about story-boarding and other ways to organize. This all makes total sense to me, and in any other aspect of my life, it would be right up my alley. For some reason though, for this, I've simply kept this notebook and one document outside of the actaul manuscript.

    I have two questions I guess:

    1. Am I doing myself a great disservice by not being fully organized for my writing?

    2. In what ways do you all organize yourselves?
     
  2. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    No.

    Surprisingly enough, writing is strictly about writing.

    There are lots of activities that are surrounded by peripheral components that have to be taken into account to achieve anything in the activity itself, but writing is not one.

    If you write your best while at the bottom of a pool, with a full scuba suit, writing on a waterproof computer, that's where and how you should write. If your best comes from cumulating a mass of disjointed information and then sublimating that into the final form, go for it.

    Don't try to find solutions outside of the act of writing itself.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't organise my actual story writing - I just write.

    Where I am organised is over what I write and when, I will stick to one project until the phase I am working on finishes. When a new idea hits me I allow myself to write it a bit then timetable it - like I know I am finishing Socrates' Children then May I will be working on Stoned Witches and June Coffee Killer - then June to August edit the three books, then for August I will work on another Angus and Beatrice, September is a general fiction at present called Anya and Jack. October is Nun Plague. November is NANo and I want to work on What About Us a Socrates and Nate story - then do some editing through the winter. However I do allow that to be tweaked a bit when things change/

    I have my websites organised about what i will write for that when etc
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I myself am extremely organized with my writing notes, to the point where I guess you can say I'm obsessive-compulsive about it - I have meticulous notes about everything, and hundreds of papers (both real papers and electronic papers) about everything. I have note cards, try to structure my stories accordingly instead of just writing blindly, and so on and so forth. I never write without having planned everything inside my head, or at least I have a good idea of where I want to go, even if I don't know how I'm going to get there.

    It works for me.

    But some people don't like that kind of hard-core organization, and they prefer to just write and let their ideas flow, and they feel that organizing just limits their ability to actually be creative. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I don't see any reason why their methods are any worse or better than mine. If it works for them, then I think they probably should just go with it.

    So basically, whatever works for you is fine. Some writers are extremely organized and systematic; others are extremely flexible and free-form; many are probably in between, somewhere. It's best to find what works for you. I used to write free-form and with little planning, but it just didn't work for me, and I couldn't really write anything. Once I started planning things out, figuring where I wanted a story to progress, things got a lot easier for me. That is not to say, again, that writing free-form with minimal planning doesn't work or isn't a valid method - it ijust didn't work for me, even though it could work for others.


    All in all, I think it's important that you try various methods if you're uncertain, and see which ones work best. But I think the one thing that all of them have in common, more or less, is that you keep an open mind while you're writing. If you suddenly feel the urge to change something - like maybe you realize character A has more of a wild personality than you first thought of, or maybe you suddenly think of a wonderful plot twist in scene B - then go ahead and accept it, and don't feel bad for switching or anything.
     
  5. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    Thanks for the replies. It sounds like the level of organizing one's writing is pretty individual!
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Organization is only about the time it takes you to find what your looking for.
    The more organized the less time it takes to find stuff.

    I write ideas at work, or email myself a link. Then I organize my notes in my "Onenote" program.
    Do I need to see Delphi's character, click on her tab in Characters, Do I need to see the town my character is going in? Click on the towns name.

    I have worked with notes all over the place in my computer and stuff on work computers, and spent to much time looking for it. I love my "trapper keeper" for the computer.
    Endless headings, endless tabs, endless sub-headings, endless pages in the sub heading, and the pages are endless too.

    You can write a "page" on a small subject, then dedicate a "page" to a book. It is a one note page, even though it is 100 pages long.

    Like I said, I love onenote.
     
  7. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Every project I have gets a name. In the computer, the project is contained in a folder. For a multi-chunk story, each file gets a 2-digit number and a description. The bigger the project is, the more effort I put into organization. Now I just need to figure out how to coordinate it between two computers.
     
  8. Louis Farizee
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    Louis Farizee Member

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    If you must be organized, you can storyboard your ideas first... but being too rigidly organized can be a bad thing. Sometimes, the characters take you places you didn't know you had to go. Do the smart thing and follow them. You may write yourself into a dark hole, but you'll learn more about your characters this way.
     
  9. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    I've never heard of it, but from your description, it sounds fabulous!

    I'm very organized with my folders and documents at work, but for some reason... it just didn't happen to that extent with the writing.

    Smoke: I know what you mean about the two computer thing. Whenever I'm working between my computers and the jump drive, I always fear that I will save over the current version by accident!

    Louis: I didn't storyboard, but did a general outline. I actually have gone in some pretty different directions that the first time I plotted it all out... It really does tend to take on a mind of its own sometimes.
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty organised overall, but there's not much to be organised about re this.

    I don't keep many notes these days and lots of paper drives me mad.

    I sometimes jot down ideas in notebooks.

    When I used to write a lot of song lyrics, I used any scrap of paper I could find to write on, and shove them in a folder.
     

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