Writing Hygiene

Waking today, the first cup of coffee steaming beside me, I set out 
to do what I do every morning at 5:30am — -write. I started typing, 
stopped, not for want of ideas or Writer’s Block. I stopped because my 
fingernails slipped off the keys, turning my sixty-five-words-per-minute
 to thirty and loaded with typos: my nails were too long.

I wondered how secretaries type at high speed and error-free (among other 
things) with nails stretching an inch beyond their fingertips. Mine are 
just beyond the tips, a small slice of white extending from the pink, 
and I mistyped a.

I regrettably left my desk, ideas still swirling through my head, and accosted the nails in the interest of 
personal hygiene (and production) while contemplating Writing Hygiene.

Like most writers, I have thousands of documents on my hard-drive submerged within dozens of folders, places for developing stories, snippets, a 
novel — -complete with sub-folders devoted to character bios, plot 
summaries, world-building — -and I wonder if there is a better way. There
 are instances when I cannot find the exact document I want, no matter 
how many times and with what key words I search. I make a note to find 
the document later and keep typing; after all, the only way to improve 
and produce is to type, preferably with short, manageable-length 
fingernails.

I have thousands of documents encompassing everything
 from archery skills to zoology terms on my desktop, and I have dragged 
many of the “In Progress” files to flash drives, then to my laptop for 
when I venture to the park to write in silence. Not only do I have the 
original files, but also updated and expanded files on multiple devices.
 Sometimes the various versions of a work-in-progress (I number them 
1.0, 1.5, 2.0, etc.) get tangled in a web of Word docs.

How to organize in order to best utilize the available fragments of writing time?

Returning to the computer, nails now trimmed and filed, fingers flying over the keyboard, my subconscious unravels the organization dilemma. Or so I 
hope.

Two hours later and 1,000 words produced, a decision is 
made, one that began with trepidation and pretty much ended with it as 
well. Understand, I save all writing often, and on more than one 
occasion have been relieved I sent the most important documents to my 
email address as a backup (also onto a flash drive) just in case 
something weird or dramatic happened. It usually does.

In the past, there were times my heart sank when something I spent an hour or more writing disappeared; although just composed, I could not reproduce 
it exactly and knew something would be lost the second time. Long ago I 
vowed not to let that happen, hence the multiple back-ups. With the 
multiple back-ups come repeated and unnecessary documents.

My decision: put everything on a flash drive and start fresh with only the 
current files on my desktop. I view it the same as reformatting the 
computer hard drive and starting anew. Knowing that doing so will not 
relieve the difficulty of finding documents (and may even complicate it 
by having to plug in the flash drive), I have a sense of freshness that I
 only have the most important documents readily available.

Clutter-free, only my most important in-progress files available, will keep me 
focused on current works and prioritized items. At least I hope so.

I have a single file on my desktop now, entitled Writing Projects. Within
that main folder, I have a dozen sub-folders, and inside each only the 
current, most important documents; thousands pared to a hundred. Ah, 
that feels better, unencumbered and ready to begin fresh. Now where did I
 put that story idea, A Writer’s Afternoon?

How do you keep your computer files organized?

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