Monday, April 13, 2015

How Do You Organize Your Writing?

In this day and age pretty much all writers have a computer or computer access, and if you’re like me you have a writing folder and you have folders within the folders and that is how you find your writing when you want it later.

I have a pretty basic way to sort things with 21 folders. This is what they are, with explanations if I think they are necessary.

  • Blogging 
  • Celtx Projects (backups)
  • Collaboration
  • Complete (stuff I’m not working on and is done)
  • Contest Submissions
  • Cooling Rack (purgatory for documents between drafting and editing)
  • Editing 
  • Exe Files
  • Fan Fics
  • Incomplete (stuff I’m not working on but isn’t done)
  • Junk Notes (random writer crap)
  • Not By My (where I save beta work)
  • Poetry
  • Resources
  • Reviews
  • Trash (never looking in here again)
  • Treasure Box (never tire of looking inside)
  • Trunk 
  • WIP
  • Words I Likes (vocab bank)
  • Write or Die (backups)

Depending on the folder, different things get organized different ways. My three most-used folders are Blogging, Fan Fics, and WIP, so I thought I’d show the predominant organization in each.

In Blogging, I divide what I do into three sections: Sometimes I’m a Story, Wandering in a Blur, and Guest Posts. I save each post I do in the appropriate folder, which is then put into another folder based upon the month (or blog) it was posted.

In Fan Fics, there are no folders. Instead, I write my abbreviation of the series name in all caps, and then the title of the piece in regular writing.

In WIP, there’s a folder for each project I’m working on, which in turn has a folder for each draft, which holds folders and files filled with manuscripts, notes for the future, inspiration, and more, depending on which stage I’m at.

This works well for me—when I’m blogging, things like scheduling and backups are important, which is why I focus more on month and destination, whereas in Fan Fics I’m simply letting off steam and it’s not as important to me to know when I wrote what and who read it. And, if you’re a writer, I’m sure you know it would suck if you weren’t able to divide your files between projects, drafts, and notes, because you’d never find anything!

Keeping my writing organized helps me keep track of everything I’ve done and everything I plan to do, but it’s by no means the best way. Which, of course, leads to the question:

How do you organize your writing folders? How do you sort what goes inside of them?


  1. Wow. Wow THIS is beyond organised. This is just freaky. Heather, I bow to you as Queen of Being Organised.

    All I really do is have vague titles like "social media" and "writing" and "entertainment" for the folders on my desktop, then a folder for each project inside that. Although when it comes to writing, what happens is a Russian doll version of folders; the outermost folder is called "draft number" "WIP name", e.g. 3.0 WTA, and inside that folder I have another folder for all the phased-out drafts and inspiration notes and outlines. And inside that I have another folder, and another, until we get to the first draft. It sometimes gets difficult to find the exact character profile I want to reference. :S

    1. Is it freaky? I didn't even talk about how I index the resources folder. But *ahem* thank you. *puts on tiara* I don't mind being Queen of Being Organized.

      Russian doll sounds right! Still, I think your way works—you start with a broad idea and basically get more and more specific depending on what you want to sort. I mean, finding stuff can definitely be hard, but still. I like your method. :)

  2. Hi, Heather!
    This is incredible! I am way impressed with your organization. I actually only just recently organized my writing folders and such {embarrassed chuckle}, and it was pretty frightening. It's better now, thankfully. I usually use Google Drive for all of my writing, and it is mainly made up of 'Short Stories,' 'Poems,' 'Blog,' 'WIP's,' and 'Writing Resources.'
    Thanks for the great organization advice, and have a wonderful day!

    1. Oh, thanks. :) As I like to tell myself every day, you never waste time in getting organized. I've sometimes used Google Drive, and it would be good to back stuff up online (note to self) but I also find Google Docs an embarrassingly inadequate device when I'm used to Microsoft Word... But that is me.

      Right back at ya! :)

  3. Very inspirational. It is amazing to see how much you can stay on top of at one time with your organization techniques. I organize my writing in two ways: physical and electronic.


    I organize my journals in a box chronologically and keep one special journal for all my poetry. I also have a file folder to keep physical copies of any awards I have won or physical publications I have work in.


    I keep a file called BRAINSTORM where I keep little bits of all my ideas. It is kind of a creative sandbox where I can mix and match ideas and really get my writing juices flowing.

    I also have a file where I organize all my novel ideas. I mostly write historical fiction, so it is pretty easy to keep it organized.

    Unfortunately I do NOT have a good system for keeping track of all the short stories I have written. They are scattered across many websites, my blog, teenink, figment, stageoflife, etc... Your post has really encouraged me to get them organized!

    1. Exactly; being organized makes me a more efficient person in general. And it is awesome.

      I organize my journals and notebooks chronologically as well! I have a binder for my certificates and stuff too (although it's mostly filled with school stuff). It's funny how similar our physical organization system is.

      I used to have a folder called IDEAS where I did the same, but since then I've moved it into my RESOURCES folder, because that's pretty much what it's for anyway. It's awesome that you're able to separate your different writing needs like that!

      Well, I here's to seeing you get all your short stories organized! It would be terribly sad to see them get lost. :(

  4. SO MUCH ORGANIZATION. *hyperventilates*

    I'm hyper organized on the computer, but my notebooks are all jumbles of snippets so they just sit in a drawer until I need them. I'm not picky about that. On my laptop, however...I HATE having electronic clutter of any kind so the amount of documents I'm seeing in your pictures kind of makes my head spin. xD I have a folder for each story and the documents that fit there (drafts, short stories, backstory, character sketches, etc) and a folder for my short stories that aren't related to anything. Inside each story folder I usually have a sub-folder for each character, so that's all organized too.

    1. It's beautiful, isn't it? *wipes away a tear*

      I feel like in a notebook it's easier to just vomit all your thoughts onto the page, whereas on the computer you can edit stuff to look comprehensible later. I kind of hate electronic clutter, but I'm also really, really good at making it. I should clear out my folders, to be perfectly honest. Because I'm a little out of hand. :P

      Your organization system seems rather straightforward; very good work! Also, thanks for inspiring me to cut down on the electronic clutter, because that is pretty much who I am. Lol.

  5. I used to be pretty organized on my old laptop, but since I've bought a new one (with a new Word program) I've been very unorganized, mostly because I'm still getting used to the new program.
    On my old laptop, I had two main folders--one for blogging stuff and one for stories, snippets, freewrites, and pretty much all the rest of my personal, non-blog-related writing. I also kept a separate folder for school writing assignments. It was still pretty chaotic, but probably the most organized I've ever been.

    1. Ah, yes. Switching our programs can be a confusing way to get everything switched out and used to the new system.

      Well, as long as you were able to find things in the chaos, I imagine it worked out for you. But, depending on what folders you use, it's easy to get disorganized—in other folders I have there's no rhyme or reason to anything at all.

  6. This is.... this is BEAUTIFUL. I can't really comprehend how organised this all is... It's so just so gorges as a system.

    Have to admit. I'm a little scattered in life and in writing so mostly things get piled together in documents or if they're something I'm focusing on now they go on my desktop. Slowly, very slowly, I've pretty much weeded my files down to one of two things: music or writing. I like to kid myself this ensures I can totally always find the things I need to in a hurry. <3

    1. XD Thanks. Believe me, it's just the writing folder—some of the other folders out there are a mess.

      It's certainly easy to drown under a pile of documents. Music and writing are a good initial place of two documents, and so as long as you find the things you need in a hurry, all is well. :)

  7. I used to be impeccably organized with my writing. Then I moved half a dozen times and I've gone through almost as many computers. And my files are all in a shambles because I had a different way of organizing things at each home/apartment and on each computer. So I've attempted to bring them all back together, but I've failed miserably.

    There are some things that stick around no matter what:

    - I have an Active folder with subfolders for whatever my active projects are. Which is almost silly because there are no sub-folders in there.

    - I have a Dead folder, which also has subfolders for various projects. Some are complete, others aren't.

    Unfortunately, the big problem with changing things so much is that every now and then I'll try to resurrect something, so it will end up being in BOTH the active folder and the dead folder. Which isn't particularly conducive. I'll have to try out some of your methods now that I'm much more settled down :)

    1. *wince* That sounds complicated; it's a shame that the frequent moves have interrupted your work. It's good that you have an overarching system, at least, so that you can at least operate within those two folders. I hope that you'll be able to figure out a way to help sort out the division between the two a little more clearly, and make your organization method more conducive to writing and keeping track of all your awesome stories. :)

  8. Wow, Heather! You are so organized. I do have some folders on my computer, but they are only for fiction and nonfiction pieces-not blog posts. And I most certainly do not have as many folders as you do. My system works pretty well for me, especially because I'm on Google Docs, which is great for organization and collaborating. However, my system is definitely different because unlike you, I write all notes in a notebook. My notebooks are kind of like my place for ideas and plotting. Then, the only thing I type up are the actual stories.

    1. I didn't realize I was that organized until everyone has informed me that I am, so I guess it must be true. XD I have a lot of folders because I have a lot of files, I suppose, but it's good that you're able to operate on fewer files—less is more, as they say. I like writing in notebooks, but they're harder to keep track of for me, so I don't operate the same way. :) Still, I imagine it helps you save computer space!

  9. Oh my goodness, you are so organized! I bow to you. My computer holds all the fragmented, pitiful attempts at a system. Just imagine my thoughts as dead leaves and life as wind, and you'll get a pretty accurate image of what goes on in my brain. Now I feel inspired to clean up a little...

    1. Well... If you can paint with all the colors of the wind I imagine it doesn't matter a super much. Still, if what works for you, works for you, don't feel obligated by my example. XD

  10. When it comes to blogging, I usually just write and save my blog posts on WordPress, and do the preliminary planning in my blogging journal, or on Evernote.

    Your files are really organized, though! I'd usually just save a file to an umbrella folder, and know I'll find it there without being too specific.

    1. Oooh, I can see how that keeps files down to a minimum; very efficient. :)

      I like being as specific as possible, so I guess that's a difference we have. Even so...

  11. Haha, I love all your folder names. They made me laugh really hard. :D

    1. I go a little crazy sometimes. :) Thanks for reading!


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