1. Lori DG
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    Lori DG New Member

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    Organizing daily writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lori DG, Dec 24, 2014.

    Hi all.

    I'm new here, and new to being serious about writing. I write a lot, and wonder, for those of you who have the habit of writing regularly, how do your organize your pages/documents? What about if the writing has nothing to do with your current projects? Do you save everything?

    Scrivener, Word, blog, etc.?

    I'm curious about your process. Thanks!
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I just keep things in folders & word docs. They all have funky names so if anyone wanted to peek into my computer and see what I was up to they would have a hard time figuring out where to look first. :) Generally they're pretty simple without the fancy names. I have a New Ideas folder but there is a subfolder where if the ideas aren't really on my mind I shove it into that folder which is like a dead idea folder.

    If you want to work on a particular idea it gets it's own folder - right now I'm working on expanding a short story Not Pink I have two folders - one for the first draft, a second one for the improved draft. Then I have word docs which I've called Chew on This - they contain tidbits of dialogue and scenes or such - stuff that may or may not make it into the story. Every folder has a Chew on This doc. And for the snipped scenes I don't want instead of deleting them I put them in a fresh doc called Rusty Nails.

    I save each draft and number them and each chapter gets it's own word doc.

    I save everything! When I was younger I used to get depressed adn rip up my writing. Something I regret. So I never delete anything no matter how cringeworthy.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I save everything. Folders on the computer - mostly Word. (backed up to DropBox, and also periodically to an external hard drive).

    I have a notebook, too, for when I wake up in the middle of the night or something, but I usually look at it in the morning and either discard the ideas (a giraffe and a pail? Really?) or transcribe them onto the computer.
     
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  4. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a folder for every Idea I want to write a short story about. In the folder I have a doc for the story and a doc for ideas and notes. Like Peachalulu mentioned, I try not to delete anything If there is a certain sentence or phase I like that doesn't fit into the story, I just copy it and paste it to a misc doc that can be used inspiration and ideas on a later date.
     
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  5. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    No matter what method of storage you use just be very, very careful to store multiples copies elsewhere (like on a hard drive, flashdrive, different computer, email, or paper, even). A couple months back I had a bad virus invade my computer and wipe out every single one of my files including pictures, records, and everything.:(:( Fortunately I had my WIP backed up in several other places and now I write solely on a laptop that is not connected to the internet (and continue to back it up constantly).

    I don't know what would have happened if I had lost my work permanently. A trip to the roof a very tall building in the dead of night wouldn't have been inconceivable.:)
     
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  6. A.J. Pruitt
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    A.J. Pruitt Member

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    When I work with a writing class or a writing club, I always tell the new authors to just start typing. Write the story as it evolves in your mind. Save your work to your HD and/or a memory stick. If you are a beginner don't get the idea in your head that you need to start with a perfect opening sentence, a perfect first paragraph or anything else that dances through your mind. Just get it started. Once you get the story line on paper and the plot working, you can go back and have a look at what you've created to a certain point in time. I have yet to meet a writer, new or professional, who can sit down and bang out a story and have it perfect the first time. Those who say they do this are telling you a giant fib.

    Organizing your work, including saving it to files, so it flows smoothly will come after you are well into writing the piece. I've know writers who save each chapter under a difference file; then, later on, bring it all together like a jigsaw puzzle in a main file.

    My personal organizing method is, A folder directory titled (Writing): a sub-directory(folder) name (the story's title) then a file name (usually the novel's title) for the particular piece I am working on. The file names are where all of my research or note taking is kept. I wouldn't advise having two writing projects in the same sub-directory or file.

    Keep it simple and just bang away at your keyboard and create. Never mind if it rambles; save it anyhow. The mindless rambling can be corrected into cohesive work later on.
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use a folder system within Scrivener. At the start of a rewrite I make use of the snapshot feature to save the previous version.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait. How do you know they're lying? I mean, you've never met anyone who can write clean, publishable first drafts, or you've never met anyone who says they can? If they say they can, you know they're lying because...?

    I'd say it depends on the market and the style, and maybe on your definition of 'perfect'. But if by perfect you mean 'publishable', then I can say that I've had first drafts published, and know others who have as well. Could we have made them more 'perfect' if we'd taken more time? Maybe. Or maybe we'd have lost something in the editing. Who knows?

    So, am I telling a giant fib? Or do I just write differently than you do?
     
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  9. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I have a .doc that contains the story idea, character notes and anything else that I think may be relevant to the project. Step Two is to create an outline or a timeline where I note the things that need to happen and a rough order in which they need to occur that will be logical. None of this is 'etched in stone' for the writing itself which begins last. I'll then just start writing the first draft with little concern for the mechanicals (grammar, punctuation, structure, etc)--the goal is to simply get the story down. First edit addresses style and flow. Second edit strives to find all the technical errors. Third edit hopefully picks up the stragglers and has it ready for publication though the number of edits may vary from three onward as I see fit.

    I tried on my first novel to break each chapter into separate .doc files but found it more trouble than it was worth. Reading through it and doing the edits had me constantly jumping from chapter to chapter and it was just a giant PITA; I now just write the book as one complete work.
     
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  10. Gloria Sythe
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    Gloria Sythe Member

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    I have belonged to four and still belong to two writing clubs and have yet to hear of anyone who claims that their first draft is perfect to the point where it needs no proof reading or editing.

    I have a brother who is an editor for a major news paper in Vancouver and does freelance editing on the side. He has told me that he has yet to see a clean manuscript cross his desk that does not need polishing. At times when he receives Letters To The Editor submissions, he will leave all grammatical errors in place if the author sarcastically runs down other people.

    I teach school for a living and work with English grammar on a daily basis and try to use my skills when I write my stories. As Mr. Pruitt stated above, having a polished piece on one's first draft is extremely rare.

    Another possibility to consider here, it could be that you have a difficult time having someone suggest that you may be less than perfect. I know several people like that and editors adore them.

    By the way, how can perfect be perfected to -more perfect-?
     
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  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But apparently AJ Pruitt HAS heard these claims, since he's calling the people who made them liars. So... we have to assume that either there are people out there claiming that sort of thing, in which case why would we not believe them, or that there are NOT people out there claiming that sort of thing, in which case AJ is making up a strange straw man in his post.

    My manuscripts usually get polished to meet house style by editors, for sure. In terms of your brother's other experiences - okay. I can take your word for what he's experienced. Not conclusive, but useful.

    No. If THAT was what AJ stated, I wouldn't have bothered to object. I agree, it IS rare (maybe not 'extremely', but that's a matter of interpretation). But what he said wasn't that it's rare for people to be able to do this. He said people who said they do this are telling giant fibs. ie. they're lying b/c it's impossible. Calling people liars with no evidence to back his statement up is what I object to.

    My editors like me just fine, thanks! And I have no problem being edited, or taking suggestions for improvements. Most of the time these suggestions make my books better. What I do object to, obviously, is being told I must be lying if I said that some of my writing has been published in its first-draft form, with the only edits to match house style.

    If you need more evidence that this isn't me being disgruntled on behalf of myself, I can say that I do several drafts of most of my writing. Not short stories, generally, but novels for sure. But I know people who say they don't do multiple drafts of their (published) novels, and I believe them. So... I don' t think someone should say that they're lying, AND I don't think someone should spread the misinformation that writing this way is impossible.

    As I said in the post, it depends how you define 'perfect'. I'd say that no piece of writing can ever be truly 'perfect', so I don't think the traditional definition of the word works in this context. (For future reference, when someone puts single quotation marks around a word, as I did, that usually suggests they're using it outside of its original meaning.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  12. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bayview, you're saying that you have sat down, and typed out 60,000 maybe 80,00o words or more, all in a row, without looking back, read them over and said, yeh, that's close enough? Sent them off to a publisher, who then produced a book from those same 60,000 or 80,000 words without anyone deleting, moving, or otherwise changing that draft?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
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  13. Gloria Sythe
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    Gloria Sythe Member

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    But you stated that your first drafts are published, which means they were published right off your keyboard without editing. If I am not mistaking, was this not what Mr. Pruitt was referring to? Unless of course, you self published your own work as is.

    I can't find anywhere in Mr. Pruitt's post where he stated that you were or are a liar. It's easy to make mountains out of mole hills.

    Gloria
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, he didn't limit himself to me - he said that ANYONE who said they had first drafts published was "telling you a giant fib." Am I misinterpreting the phrase "giant fib"?
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup. Some changes to match house style, but no other substantial changes.
     
  16. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    But not a first draft then.
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know - how are you defining first draft? No changes whatsoever from the publisher?

    I'd say that no matter how many drafts you do, your publisher is still going to change things to match house style...
     
  18. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that within the spirit of the original statement, especially when related to beginning writers, it is more than safe to say there is absolutely no such thing as a single draft, publishable story.
     
  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And I disagree.

    As I disagree with almost every absolute statement when it comes to writing.

    And, for the record, my first book is one I did in only one draft. I was a new writer, sent it to the publisher as more-or-less a dare, and was stunned when they wanted to publish it. Their editing was, as I said, limited to changing things to meet their house style. Looking back, I wish I'd tightened it, but at the same time, it's still my best-selling book. I think readers like the gush of raw emotions, and aren't too worried about the lack of polish.

    I'm not saying this is a common path to publication and I'm not recommending that people not polish their writing. I'm just saying it's possible. That's the problem with absolutes - they don't allow for exceptions.
     
  20. DennisWillis12
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    DennisWillis12 Member

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    It is good if you are writing daily and organizing it. It is easy for you and your time also save by organize writing. Organize writing will help you to write in a proper manner. It also helps you to save most of things needed for writing projects.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that you're lying. But I can't wrap my mind around how that can work, so I find myself analyzing definitions rather than immediately assuming that what you're saying means what it would mean by my definitions. Is there no point where you edit? Not after a sentence, a paragraph, a page, no editing at all? No getting up and saying, "Hm, this and this from yesterday's pages need a little tweaking."? Please tell me you occasionally backspace a word or two, at least? :)
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I just saw this posting ...and want to say 'good,' you're taking care of your precious work. However, don't shrink from printing your work off on paper, either. You said 'paper, even,' as if it was a last resort. Believe it or not the EDITOR of MacFormat magazine (a computer magazine) recently recommended keeping paper backups of work you can't afford to lose! If he (a computer geek if there ever was one) thinks paper is a good idea, I'm not going to argue with him.

    It doesn't matter how many other copies you keep, if the media gets corrupted, you can easily lose the lot. If you back up every day you write (which you should) and you do the backups by replacing the old files with the new ones ...bam. They will all be corrupted if the software or hardware goes wonky.

    I have had to resort TWICE to the printed page, to save work. Once it was because my file got corrupted, which corrupted the backups, and I discovered (too late) that there were two chapters I could no longer access. (And this was back in 1995, before I was on the internet, so a virus wasn't the culprit.) Another time was when I inadvertently deleted an entire day's work ...fortunately AFTER I'd printed it off. Both times, if I had relied on digital copies only, I'd have lost the work.

    So don't scorn paper. It still works. And thieves won't be interested in taking it, should they break into your home and walk off with your computer and accessories.
     
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  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep. Yep. I see paper as more secure than any other backup method. Less convenient, and it would be a major pain to have to type it all back in again, but not nearly as painful as losing it all.

    And it's far more long-term-permanent. I have two binders stuff I wrote over twenty years ago; I don't have a single byte of data in electronic form from that time, even though almost everything in the binders was written on a computer.

    And another thought of the long-term: Plain text files. Even if you move your files from computer to computer to computer, are you going to open Every Last One of them in the latest word processor to keep them in a state that ensures that you can open them when you want them five years from now? Paper doesn't change format, and neither does plain text.
     
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  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of my writing, now, I edit quite a bit. Read and edit the previous day's work before writing this day's, multiple drafts, etc. I've also sought out publishers/editors who are more demanding and even after polishing I end up doing MORE work after they're done with my stories.

    But there have been things that I haven't edited. As a previous post indicated, my first novel was published from my first draft, as was its sequel, with minimal changes from the publisher. At least one of my novellas and a couple short stories were also published in their first draft form, with very few changes from the publisher.

    How? As I said in my first post on this thread, I think it depends on the market and style of writing. These were all character-heavy books, with fairly straightforward plots. High on emotional engagement, but not a lot of intellectual involvement. It's not like I was writing a spy thriller or a detective novel. So no worries about making the plot work. And I write fairly clean (no typos or grammar issues). I was writing in a voice that came naturally to me, so I didn't have to worry about lapses that way. And I was emotionally invested in the characters, so I knew how they'd respond to different situations. I don't know. It just worked. (As I said above, I can look at these books and wish I'd polished them more, but there's no correlation in my sales numbers or reviews between books I polished the crap out of and books I slapped together raw).
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've been shifting my finished work to Rich Text Format (RTF) which I understand is more future-proof than anything written directly in whatever wordprocessor format I use to create the work.

    I understand RTF is pretty much the same as Plain Text from a future-proofing point of view, with the added advantage of keeping a lot of the formatting ...smart quotes, italics, etc. Do you know if there is a difference between Plain Text and RTF as regards futureproofing?

    Such an irritation, isn't it? So many developers are so focused on The Next Big Thing that they forget that SOME of us do more on our computers besides surf the net and send emails. Some of us produce work we'd love to be able to access in 10-20 years' time.

    ..................

    Incidentally, I do still have my work from 1994 onward available in digital form, but ONLY because I take the time, with each upgrade, to reconfigure every single old file I want to keep. That job now takes a couple of weeks of pretty constant work each time I upgrade. It would be great if developers could come up with a way to upgrade everything a folder at a time, rather than a document at a time, but it's like wanting better nursing homes in the field of healthcare. It's not the glam end of the market. A major 'grrrr.' And it may well result in this time period becoming a 'dark ages' of lost material. I mean, what happens to photos if they're not upgraded to new media all the time? That's right. They get lost. Permanently.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014

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