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edited January 2014 in - Writing Tales
How do you organise your work? Do you allow documents to sit on the desktop within easy reach (so to speak) or are they tucked away in folders? Is your paper work in piles on your desk (if you are lucky enough to have your own writing desk, I’m not) or scattered all around the house?

What system works for you?

When I write for example I write in three colours. Black, blue and red. Black is for cold hard facts. Blue are idea or a brainstorm where I’m not committed to an idea. I use red to go over work I’ve just done and make corrections. My documents are sorted away in general folders and then in sub folders so they are easy to locate. I’ve recently started the habit of dating my paper work and I’ve started using little sticky tabs to show myself when I’ve written the first draft of a story in my notepad. When I finish a notepad I go to the inside cover and make a contents page of everything inside. I hardly ever finish a notepad. I don’t know why. There are always five or six pages at the back that are never used.

This system works for me. It’s neat and tidy (I can’t stand mess) and I know where everything is. I’m really curious to hear how other people organise their work.


  • If I'm working on a story I tend to save it to my Google Drive, so I can work on the most up-to-date version on iMac or MacBook. Once it's finished it goes in my Documents/stories directory.
  • LizLiz
    edited January 2014
    I leave everything on my desktop till finished, along with photos and stuff I'm working with and have found interesting, and it looks like an explosion. No order at all. Occasionally i put 'stuff on the desk' in a dated, named folder and sometimes I file that after several years in Finder. There is one that goes in every couple of months.

    Apart from that i have files (some the normal mac blue, some all different animals shapes and colours) on the desktop all the time, the ones i use all the time - for instance everything to do with my book, all my photos, all my artwork, all my poems, anything to do with the dog, health, about publishing, stuff I'm writing at the minute articles etc.

    Nothing is tidy. i clear up the desktop after it gets too untidy and within a day it is covered again.
  • I can't work unless my desk is tidy. I have everything in files ie interesting articles from WM etc. These are in a cupboard close by. All I have on my desk is my laptop, a note book and a pot of pens.
  • Looks at desk...

    Two phones, three mugs (OMG!), an old diary, some of Lola's fur, two sets of earrings, a thingy for putting stuff on, pen device wotsit, lots of plastic animals, a book of birds, a glasses cleaning cloth, my own book, a padded envelope, a pot for drawing pins, two pots for pens, a thing to put things in like letters and cheques I will cash when I remember, an iPad, the camera case, the camera, Rent-a kid (a DVd I ordered for us to watch, funny, ours broke and the kids and I wanted to see it again), a letter, two pieces of music, a photo, a thing to charge my sensore a tape measure... scissors, some embroidery cotton in fluorescent yellow, a bit of paper with notes on, a brass dormouse, some sellotape... honestly it was clear before the weekend...
  • *sets SatNav to 'Liz's house' and packs house-tidying kit*
  • Oooh, Nell. That would be nice. We could have tea and chocolate.
  • Except you'd also have to bring the chocolate.
  • There's a picture of it actually on FB, I posted one of my new writing arrangements.
  • I'm a semi-messy desk- though it got tidied up completely last night ready for Bt. [-O<

    The project I'm working on is in a labelled cardboard or plastic folder/box type thing-including research notes. I use memory sticks for each different big project and one for short stories.
    I only print stuff out when I'm almost finished, or I'm at the end of a chapter.
    Projects in waiting are on the book shelf in my office area, my current WIP is in the top tray.

    I keep notebooks on one of the shelves by me and refer to them when needed.

    In my set of stacked sliding trays I keep magazines, and any paperwork I need to have to hand.

    Then there will be an assorted stack- filing, writers' club stuff.

    I keep my e-readers on my desk too.
  • Like Nef, my writing space has to be tidy. I have a pin board with the plot arch, some inspirational photos, maps and such. Calendar with kids pictures, and some old town images. 'box o junk' (Actually stuff like paper clips and pins) I have to have a flask of tea with me, and something to pick at if I am editing - usually satsumas or grapes. Cup collections can grow throughout a week/writing marathon. Drawer is full of notebooks as sometimes I find the words come easier in draft that way.

    If I could figure out how to share a picture on this thing I would show you.

    I store all my wip on a chip, back up to a USB weekly, and to the main PC monthly.
    Each folder is so named for the story. Within that there are subfolders per draft.
    I don't use cloud storage.
  • Picture of messy desk... complete with weird chair and weirder standing device and dog-in-the-way... 

  • OMG, I thought the trampoline was a reference to your frog hopping
  • Liz don't ever let me in your office, I would have to tidy.  All my reference books are in subject order, all my important paperwork is filed in order.  Everything on my desk is at a certain angle and when it isn't I have to sort it.  

    Wish I was less like this,  I am a painter, I am supposed to be messy, should see how I lay out my palette before I start painting.

  • Oh, my reference books are in subjects, or I'd never find them, that bookcase is the reference one - not the animals books, they are in another bookcase. This is dictionaries, thesauruses, rhyming dictionaries, encyclopaedias of word origins, wordplay books, Fowler's etc. 

    In a paper about 'Psychology of Desk Entropy' a study showed that participants in an untidy room were more creative.

    Hmmm.. my font changed there without me doing it...
  • Oooh... copy and paste does that... weird...
  • edited January 2014
    My desk is a bit untidy, but as I do nearly everything onto the computer there isn't too much paperwork to worry about.

  • It's gone all weird ...
  • Ok, left the site and come back to see if it's OK now.
  • Liz, I love your desk - it matches mine.  My desk at work is the same and it drives my OCD colleagues nuts.
  • Liz, are you never tempted to just jump on your trampoline instead of writing? It looks like fun.
  • StF, it's not really a trampoline, it's a rebounder. Much less springy, more taut. It's for exercise, and it does wonders if you have any problems with lymph drainage. Old people can put their legs on it and improve their circulation just by resting while someone else jumps. You don't go up a great deal - but even so, the study is the only place i can use it as my house is a cottage with ceilings just above my head - i can't raise my arms for instance in any other room, which has a sloping roof from very high down to about 5 ft.

    It's VERY hard work - 10 minutes on it is the same as a half hour jog.
  • Do they cost much?
  • No, they don't really, at least, i don't think so - this one cost £50 (some years ago, mind) from John Lewis. Don't get any other make, some aren't made properly and are too springy, that doesn't work.
  • I have to have a tidy desk (clutter stresses me out). I write straight onto the computer and everything is filed on the computer under My Documents so I can find it easily from the appropriate folder. Reference books, dictionary, etc are to hand on the shelf above my desk. Stray bits of paper and jottings are not allowed to stray - they live in a filing tray on the left-hand side of my desk - my desk diary open at today's date sits on top of them. Each day I synchronise desk diary and handbag diary. I have an external drive on which to back up everything.
  • some great ideas now i must tidy ;)
  • edited March 2014
    I can't work unless my desk is chaotic and looking like a particularly powerful tornado has been at work there. This is a really odd as I'm usually OCD about most things, I volunteer for The Healthy Planet and if the person before me has left the shop in a state it's like a four hour holiday for me to clean it up.
    I think it's because if my desk is perfectly neat and tidy, I start to obsess if my mouse mat is slightly out of line or my jotter pad isn't perfectly in-line with my pen holder. If all around me is in disarray, I just kind of think "sod it" and I can concentrate on what I'm doing.
    Strange eh?
  • Oh I'm so glad someone else has that thing of not being able to work if certain things are out of place.

    I often get up in the morning to find one of my sons has removed the mouse mat, and moved my little notebook that sits just behind my keyboard...

    I also have individual memory sticks for each larger project, so it will have the manuscript I'm working on, notes and outlines on it. Plus there will be a printed copy of it all.
  • I have a tiny desk - the only one that would fit in that corner by the bed - but it has four little drawers for pendrives and Pritstick and paperclips etc. I have actual files and ref books spread over two shelves, and virtual files (fairly) logically arranged in my computer.
    But I have to bring my laptop into the living room to go online because the Wifi thingy rarely works through the walls.
  • LizLiz
    edited March 2014
    Lizy, you can get these plugs that mean you can get your internet in any room.

    You plug one plug in beside where your router is, with a lead going into the plug from the router. Then you have another plug in another room without internet access, and a lead going to your computer from it. You can have as many plugs as you want in as many rooms... and the internet uses the electricity supply cables to get from room to room.

    It is perfectly safe and means we can have access in every room, even the bedrooms, and OH has a supply as he is at the other end of the house, a whole cottage away, through very thick (two feet in one case) walls.

  • Liz - I wouldn't put any faith in, or further strain on, the electricity cables in this apartment. This is Tenerife, where if you're fitting a ceiling light you have to fish around between plasterboard and cement beams to find the wires and hope you don't get electrocuted in the process.

    The signal in my room was fine until the chap next door installed a two metre TV dish a couple of meters from my window - and he's only there one weekend per month.

    I did consider sabotage, or running a cable from his dish to my TV, or poisoning his coffee. but decided not to risk a Tenerife prison. And it cuts down on internet time which is no bad thing.

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