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
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
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?