Published on: Oct 22, 2014
No matter how much we advance into the cyber world, there will always be a writer on the floor surrounded by piles of paper. My earliest memories, long before I realized I was a writer, are of my bed and floor buried beneath hundreds of loose leaf. Being only eight years old, it took me a long time to upgrade to a filing system. And when I did, it was a small plastic bin that, twenty years later, is packed with the writing I did in high school. After seven years of writing, researching, mapping, and printing Wikipedia articles (yes, I print out Wikipedia articles!), I have accumulated a Mt. Everest sized collection of papers. I know, somewhere beneath this mass accumulation, rests my three whiteboards covered in my plot outline.
If you’re anything like me, you find it a challenge just sorting and tracking all the hard copy resources you need. My system? Well, currently, I have two copies of my completed manuscript, each held together with a series of rubberbands bound and stored under my dresser. I have one set of in/out boxes to the right of me, a chair laden down with more Wikipedia articles, my children’s old math homework, and a desk covered in 3×5 index cards and folders. That’s not including the six piles of papers strategically placed about my bedroom (and yes, it is strategic, otherwise, I would trip on them). Or the handful of WIP chapters resting on my bedside table…Oh, I also have two chapters still on my printer from last night.
Okay, so maybe I’m not the person to be advising or educating you on organization. So why am I writing an article on it? Because, beneath Mt. Everest, lies the madness to my organization. I know the two copies of my completed manuscript are obsolete and need to be recycled.
Every time I throw out a sheet of expired paper, guilt plagues me. I’m not a “tree-hugger”. But I do love trees and I respect the Circle. I respect the eco-system. I was raised in the forests of New York. I’m almost a tree-hugger.
I have three children and one box overflowing with “expired” papers I store in my kitchen. This box is the scrap box my children go to when they want to color, cut, glue, scribble, or write. Side note: little boys love making paper airplanes. I think that is where my organization starts: finding a way to throw out or reuse the expired work. My husband loves to use the papers for tinder and I have explicit instructions not to throw out any “expired” work.
Writers! There is nothing more cathartic than BURNING YOUR BOOK! Whenever we burn my book. I always get dibs at first flame. Word of caution, the fire dies if you throw all 1,000 pages on at once. I learned this the hard way. While camping, my husband ventured into the forest for more wood, and I threw my 250,000-word manuscript onto his roaring fire (No romantic novel pun intended there). When he returned from his adventure in the woods…there was only me attempting to revive a pile of white ash beneath the raw chicken. Dinner was late that day.
Now, as for the papers you want to keep and organize…I organize my work by importance and work status. This is divided into three groups:
Currently working…is placed lovingly into a RED FOLDER (or yellow) and goes to my end table or desk so I can see it under my crap.
No longer needed…is dumped on my floor to be downgraded to the recycle box/tinder box (hence the pile of six piles scattered about my room).
Wikipedia Articles and maps that I need later…get “filed” (this is a fancy word for “placed” inside a Banker’s Box.)
The Banker’s Box. Nothing I love more than the Banker’s Box. Why? Because they have lines on the side for me to write “Writing: Tales of the Drui” and is the size of a small moving box…with handles. This box is tucked under my desk. When not in use, it acts as my ottoman and is ready and available when I need to return to some old information. I purchased one at Office Depot for $6.00 along with manila and filing folders.
Inside this banker’s box, I have organized my papers into categories, like so:
Gunir (Rune’s city)
Lorlenalin (Kallan’s city)
Each chapter also gets its own file. So this is where my “still need, but not yet” papers go. My last filing system…my favorite filing system…is unique and has been proven to be the most useful. I put together a collection of my very own “Hitchhiker’s Guide to My Book”. This is a reference “book” I made using a clear front report cover. I bought six of them for .95 cents each. I have:
Midgard Survival Pack
The Land of Norway
And one that is empty.
Inside these folders, I include the bits of information I reference the most. How did I determine what to include in these packets? Easy! If I swore more than once a day because I couldn’t find them, they went to the Survival Packets! My swearing reduced, and, more importantly, because there are only six of these in very noticeable clear front report covers, I can always find them.
Did they reduce the size of my Mt. Everest ever growing in my bedroom? No. They did, however, make spotting my WIP a lot easier.