Friday, 10 September 2010

Coffee Break: materials management


Good morning all.  I've got PG Tips, different green teas, real coffee, instant coffee and soft drinks in the fridge… please help yourselves. There’s also some wheat free cake – it’s delicious, honest – that I baked myself. (Ha! You can tell this is a virtual coffee, can’t you? What are the chances of me baking?)

It’s a dreary Bangkok sky today; the rainy season is still with us and I should stay inside and finish sorting out my papers after our apartment move. I’m not even sure which pile contains the most recent manuscript: the one with all the vital pencil markings on that I hadn’t yet put onto the computer version. I’m hoping I’ll know it when I see it but that’s not very systematic, is it?

I have bags of stuff that I save; maps of places I’ve visited, freebie guides to towns and cities, ticket stubs. I keep them because I think I might set a book there or sell an article about my trip. I’m from a long line of ‘it might be useful’ collectoholics but I fight a constant battle with those genes. I usually fail… While we’ve space I can keep it all but how should I store this stuff? Sometimes I capitulate to the retailers and I buy a ‘storage solution’ but it doesn’t really solve anything and takes up more space that it claims to save. Usually, it ends up in a paper bag optimistically labeled ‘research’ but it could equally say ‘rubbish you’re never going to use; get real and get rid.’

I can’t be the only person struggling with the organizational side of writing, can I? Not just the research material but which manuscript is the most up to date. Please tell me I’m not. My question then, is how do you arrange your writing related material? For your wip and projects to come? Is there order in your admin life or chaos like mine?

13 comments:

Debs said...

I'll have a piece of your virtual wheatfree cake please.

I recently had to tidy up the shed (many people coming to the house for a party and they needed one of the tables in it) and ended up throwing away quite a bit of useless paperwork. That may sound good, but it also showed me quite how much I still have that I can't quite part with, not yet anyway.

I do have a folder with plastic inserts in it containing research notes, cuttings etc for my wip, and another with Writer's Tips in it, but everything else is fairly disorganized.

Leatherdykeuk said...

That's an interesting question.

I have this problem doubly, since I'm also an artist and assembler (have you seen my mirrors on ETSY?) and have amassed huge amounts of useless rubbish. Some of it it in clear plastic boxes but mostly it just piles up until I use it or throw it away.Most difficult to throw are printed-out manuscripts of my novels. Those I generally burn with great ceremony.

LilyS said...

Mmmmmm cake.... Thanks for baking JJ :)

I'm a proper hoarder and serial organisation procrastinator. I have lately starting getting confused over my short stories because I write from three different computers: work, netbook and laptop. So its not always clear which story is the most recently edited. So I've just been labelling them final draft - still doesnt work though. I am happy in the knowledge that I am not as bad as Lucy from Fiona Neills book 'The secret life of a slummy mummy'.

Jenny Beattie said...

Debs, once when she was little our daughter asked us 'are we having visitors?' and we said, 'no, why?' and she said 'I was wondering why we were tidying up.' *Sigh*

Rachel, Oh dear. No advice from you either? I didn't confess to all the stuff I've got for making. I think we have that in common too.

Lily, *grins* you're welcome. Maybe I need to read that book!

HelenMHunt said...

I'm not too bad with the technological organisation. I only work on one computer, which helps and I think I pretty much know where everything is and what draft I should be working on.

It's very different in the real world though and I have piles of paperwork, mixed with stacks of magazines, read and unread books and all sort of other bits and pieces all over the place.

My writing room is a complete nightmare and really needs a good sort out. I don't quite seem to be able to face it though. Sorry, that's not much help is it?

Denise said...

Virtual cake does have the bonus of not being bad for me, thanks!

I'm afraid I'm in the chaos camp as well. My idea of clearing up is to put stuff in my hamper basket, that I then never look at, or remove things from, ahem...

I've tried to be a bit more organised by having a whiteboard either side of my desk. The idea was that I'd write notes on there, rather than my random notebook method. It's not really worked, because the whiteboards are now full and I don't want to rub off what I've written because it's useful. Just like the 20 notebooks.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Shoe boxes. Excellent for keeping loose bits and pieces; easy to label; easy to stack; recycleable; cheap (especially if you scrounge them from retailers rather buying new pairs of shoes).

Or A5 size box files. Same function but a bit more expensive (unless you buy in bulk), but with the added attraction of uniform appearance.

As for manuscripts, my original draft on the machine is labelled: Title - 00. Each time I do a draft, I copy that and label it with the next number, keeping all those in a folder with the manuscripts name - other folder for correspondence etc relating to that piece of work. And everything backed up on a daily basis to two other drives, one which goes with me if I leave the building.

Cathy said...

My computer organisation is almost identical to Graeme's. It works for me.

Research notes I try to keep on the computer as much as possible too, as clippings get lost or destroyed. I have a notebook for each novel, with space for notes, planning, submission log etc.

But my books are all disorganised and the spare bedroom, where my desk is situated, is also overflowing with craft stuff I can no longer use...

CC Devine said...

I save and redate the latest version of my wip every time I make any changes and I email it to myself in case my laptop blows up. I am a bit haphazard about also saving on a memory stick though.

As to paper filing, well, let's just say when you came visit I'd had a blitz i.e. hidden all my "piles of crap" and kitchen table/desk. I've got reams of paper - snippets from magazines, interesting articles, thought provoking images. My intention is to file it all beautifully under sensible headings for future reference.

I also have mini notebooks that I carry everywhere and the plan is to archive those notes onto index cards.

Whether I ever get around to doing either is another matter...

Karen said...

I think I'll have to adopt Graeme's routine! I have one folder on the computer labelled 'writing' and that's about as far as it goes.

I get confused, copying things onto memory sticks and passing them between PC and netbooks, and drive myself mad trying to find things at times!

I rarely print anything out unless it's a story I'm submitting, so at least that's not a problem.

Jenny Beattie said...

Helen, oh dear. We're all a bit awful, aren't we?

Denise, lol. Yes, I do things like that all the time.

Graeme, ah, now that's more like it. Shoe boxes? Brilliant, thanks for the tip.

Cathy, yes, the craft stuff does take up lots of room, doesn't it?

CC, *laughing* oh yes, that's the only kind of tidying up I do too! Brilliant.

Karen, yes, I'm easily confused too. *sigh*

Flowerpot said...

virtual wheatfree cake sounds good to me! I have various files on top of my printer. One says Walks. One Talks. another Singing - and so on. Not sure what's in the m though...

Serendipity (Christine) said...

A piece of cake washed down with some juice please! I am a list person, I file everything away in drawers, write a list of what is in there.. sounds good doesn't it until... I misplace the list and then I'm clueless - no help really! ;-)