1. mannvir

    mannvir New Member

    Sep 8, 2012
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    Effective writing and not information overload

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by mannvir, Sep 8, 2012.

    Hi writers. I'm new here. My problem, not writing itself (mainly), but the perspective of thinking about writing (the same thing about drawing and painting). I think too much about organizing and get worried about all the information and so on. Very unproductive. Light autism?

    If you write on a computer, how do you store your files and folders? How do work more or less effective and avoid ending up with 500 pdf files and so on? If you write on paper, where do you keep your references and so on?

    Does anyone work with pen and paper today?
  2. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    I don't think about writing. I come up with an idea or a character (or both) and start writing. I file each chapter by number; research gets filed in a folder within the story file. That's basically it. Story Name (main folder); Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc (files); Research (subfolder). For me, anyway, the simpler the system the better (ie the more time I spend writing).
  3. B93

    B93 Active Member

    Jul 23, 2012
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    I agree, folder for a project, files for chapters or groups of chapters. Don't fret too much, just make sure you have a system.

    Save backups frequently. I name the backups like Booktitle20120908.doc and if I make two major edits the same day append letters A, B, etc. to the name. Save major versions off your hard disk to another backup medium like two flash drives, burned CD, or online cloud storage (Dropbox, or other free utility). Storage is cheap - you'll never write enough versions to fill up a flash drive.
  4. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Jun 13, 2010
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    Queens, NY
    No, not autism. Autism is a disorder that, among other things, affects sensory processing. The compulsion to orgranize, like repetitive behaviors, is an effort to bring order to a universe that is perceived by the senses to be in complete chaos.

    The obsession with organization could be OCD but is far more likely a manifestation of being a new writer - much like the reluctance to actually write for fear of writing something less than perfect. The suggestions above are fine and will serve you well. Don't worry about anything else, just start writing and learning.

    Best of luck.
  5. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I work with word perfect documents. I name a folder - whatever my project is called. If there's no name then I'll give it some funky name
    - that relates back to the idea. I start a few documents - which get
    names like Characters , Settings, Happenings, Plot. Then there's one I call Rusty Nail - which is all the pieces that I edit
    but don't want to throw out. And one I call Chew on This - which is any clever comments, sentences, scenes that might work
    their way into the story but as of yet, are still free floating.
    Add another folder called Actual Writing - and start with one doc - Chapter 1 and I'm good to go.
  6. funkybassmannick

    funkybassmannick New Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    Chicago, IL
    Organizing Your Story Notes

    I think it's best to have as few files as possible, just organize them as best you can. For the book I'm working on, I used to have several different files for storing different information because one file would get too huge and difficult to navigate. Now I found a great way to navigate Word documents, so I dump it all in one file.

    If you have several word documents for a project you want to combine into a single, easy-to-navigate document, here's how to do it:

    1. Copy and paste them all into one document.
    2. Make sure to give each a heading based off its function, like "Characters" or "Plot" or "Setting." The heading doesn't need to be anything special other than having its own line of text.
    3. In microsoft Word, click "View" then "Navigation Pane." In the new pane that pops up, select "Document Map" (which is opposed to "Thumbnail." This pane allows you make bookmark-like markers (let's call them bookmarks for ease) in your document so you can quickly navigate large files.
    4. Word sometimes tries to guess where to put these bookmarks, so you might already have some. They probably are of little use to you, so get rid of them by clicking "Edit" and "Select all" to highlight your entire document, then "Format" and "Paragraph." Where it says "Outline Level" select "Body."
    5. Now let's start organizing. Highlight one of those typed headings from step 2 like "Characters." Now click "Format" and "Paragraph." Where it says "Outline Level," select "Level 1." The word "Characters" should appear in the navigation pane, and if you click on it (in the pane, that is), it will lead you to the characters section from no matter where you are in the document.
    6. Repeat step 5 for all of your headings. "Setting," "Plot," "Deleted Scenes," etc.
    7. You can also use subheadings. In "Characters," if you have a section for each character, make a heading for each one of those. "Captain Proton," "Doctor Chaotica," etc. Highlight the name, then click "Format" and "Paragraph" again. This time, where it says "Outline Level," select "Level 2."

    After all this, you now have a document map that lets you easily navigate all your hundreds of pages of notes from a single word document. No file clutter, and much easier to backup.
  7. DanesDarkLand

    DanesDarkLand New Member

    Aug 16, 2012
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    For myself, I use two flash drives. I use one that is secured where I do all my work, and take with me everywhere. The second is stored at home and contains all my backups, just in case.

    With the actual writing, I just start writing, usually where i start the story isn't where it ends up. I keep the original files that I build with the base. Every so often, I will come up with ideas, during the writing process, that are far in advance of what I'm working on. I create a separate document for that, and label it simply - ideas for future reference. As the writing advances, I keep incorporating those ideas, and writing new. Once the project has completed, its time for revision, and this is where the pain starts. You need to edit, expand, delete whole sections, and remove yourself from the emotional ties that bind you to that work. Once you've edited all the way through once, do it again and again. Keep reading the work, and try to think about what you're saying in each section. Our mind does what is called "fill ins" for details that we are intimately aware of. We may not communicate it effectively in the writing and therefore have to remind ourselves "Just what am I saying here?"

    The only real advice that I can give is just start writing. You'll find your own way that will work for you as you write. Expect it to change as you write until you have a system that works, and only works for you.

    Good luck with your writing and have fun!
  8. marktx

    marktx New Member

    Jun 21, 2012
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    I'll leave the diagnosis to those qualified to diagnose, but it could just be writer's procrastination. You like the idea of writing, but you haven't actually come up with anything to write.

    The desire to write is not the same as doing it, and the trick is to do it. If a blank page is intimidating to you, lower the scope and think small. Don't start with a novel. Start with something small. Don't start with something you plan to show anybody else. Don't even try at first to make it very good. If you are thinking "This is stupid! This is junk! This is stupid!" the whole time you are writing it, that's just fine. Do it anyway.

    Look at what you just wrote. Is it junk? Is it stupid? That's fine; don't throw it away. Put it somewhere safe. Keep it in a file called "Stupid junk I wrote that's not any good."

    Now, do it again. And again. And again.

    After you have an impressive folder full of stupid junk you've written, go back and look through it. You will probably find that some of it is not quite as stupid as you first thought it was. Some of it, in fact, might be pretty good. And some of it might make you say to yourself: "That one's not too bad. If I took that and did this to it, then added this and took away that, I might actually have a story here." Then take it and do this to it and add this and take away that.

    Congratulations. You're writing.

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