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What I would have done differently (writing)

edited June 2008 in - Reading
What I would have done differently (writing)

I suppose I didn’t realize I’d write some 300 stories, otherwise I might have given more thought as to how I should record them.

I’d have started my numbering system immediately so that I could find things easily instead of having to search through loads of physical &/or computer files.

I'd have worked out a better system for filing them on the computer.

I’d have remembered to change my records if the final title was different from the working title. And maybe I’d have made sure that I didn’t have two stories with the same title.

I’d have kept up-to-date records of word counts, so I didn’t find a story was the wrong length for a competition.

I’d have transferred all stories every time we got a new computer.

I'd have put all flash fiction in a ring binder. Longer pieces would be kept in separate A4 envelopes.

I’d have developed a system for edits. I’d have decided whether to keep the original version and, if so, how I would differentiate between that and the new one(s).

I would have jotted down a useful phrase or sentence to remind me what the story was about and, possibly, whether it was serious or humorous.

My lists of submissions to competitions or publishers and the outcome thereof would have been punctilious.

I would have written any phrases (to be used in stories) in a notebook and not on a Post-It note or a scrap of paper.

My letters/e-mails enclosing stories to be read by other writers etc and their comments would be filed immediately in alphabetical order.

And the above list doesn’t even include actual writing.

What would you have done differently?


  • Well, gosh, Jay. What can I say!
    You are the published writer (Dandelion Clock, et. al.) so you're system seems pretty technologically advanced to me.

    I have The Box. Everything goes into The Box.
    Maybe I should've put wheels on The Box originally as it is now rather weighty. Or started with a larger one? Items are categorised and un-identified by how faded the paper is, the type and colour of ink used, and whether it's stapled or in a plastic wallet. I often find older writings falling out of books or a handbag, unused for a time - in my system this means it needs either editing, re-writing. Rarely I think "ooo that's rather good. Did I write that?", so I have now begun putting my very own name on the paper too.
    Several years ago I wrote "NOT reycycling. DO NOT BURN" on the side in purple marker pen. (We have a wood fire)

    I would be interested in the systems of others. I might loose less.
  • Arrghh I spelt "you're" instead of "your" and it's too late to edit!
    ...wringing of hands....
  • Hickey, how could you?!
  • Hickey - I think you have about 15 minutes to edit after you've posted. Never mind - it's not the greatest crime in the world!! :D
  • It isn't?
  • Or should that be is'nit?
  • That reminds me, I have some sorting that I should do... :)
  • That's reminded me, Hickey - I would have dated all my work, too. Both the date I started the story and the date I finished it. Some short stories have taken only a few days. Others have stretched over years as I couldn't think of an ending or they were just weak.
  • Hmm. Should this be the subject of an article or, at least, a letter? I don't think I've seen much about the non-creative side of writing.
  • And I probably would put the names of the main characters on the cover/top. And not call all my characters 'Sam'.

    By the way, all this was prompted by yesterday's search for a short story entitled 'Epiphany'. It was already published, but it wasn't in the computer folder containing other stories from the same book. So I did a search for it. The most recent file I found wasn't the same as the final version - the name of one character was different, as was the ending. I had to copy the document, then edit it. It didn't take long, but I couldn't help thinking my filing system left something to be desired.
  • I would have started 20 years earlier!
  • Put earlier writing away after reading again. I am hopeless at that and find myself searching through piles of stuff for one specific item simply because I haven't tidied away. Maybe, I should just start a filing system.

    Some useful ideas there for me Jay, thank you.
  • For all of us.
  • And paid more attention to the blurb on my books (but that's 'creative'). Sometimes I think too much has been given away. But then I don't read blurbs of other people's books for that very reason, so I'm not the only person.
  • Like Mutley I wish I had started writing earlier. I also wish I had kept my diaries from when I was in my teens. Josies web site made me wish that more than anything.
  • On the creative side again, I would have gone to the creative writing classes before my first book was published.
  • I wish I'd kept all the stuff I wrote as a teenager.
  • I wish I'd started writing years earlier. It didn't occur to me until I was 40! :rolleyes:
  • I complained once to my (ex) husband I wished I had started writing earlier. He said I wasn't ready to write earlier, I needed that amount of experience of life to be able to do it successfully.
  • Carol I'm glad I didn't keep all the stuff I wrote as a teenager!! Yikes.
  • I still wish I'd started earlier. I'm sure I knew enough before I was 40 or so...

    You also spelled 'lose' incorrectly Hickey. MUCH too late to change it now.

    I sometimes look back at my post and wonder if anyone thinks I was educated at all... I seem to be getting more and more dyslexic for a start. And there is always half of one word attached to the next...
  • At school, I objected when my history teacher made me write out a 'misspelt' word three times. I'd put melat worker instead of metal worker. Think about it.
  • ho hum...
  • I threw all my writing into the dustbin in my early thirties. Then convinced that I was useless I resisted the urge to write until my early fifties. Needless to say I wish I hadn't done either of these things.
  • I've been told to throw all my writing in the dustbin. At least you had a choice Soobdoo! (Needless to say, I ain't dunnit!)
  • very wise Dora :)
  • And, if I haven't already said this, I'd have dated everything. Start and finish. Or start, stop, re-start, finish.
  • I have wound my way back here. I wanted to see how it all panned out.

    Date and character names? I shall try. Sounds good - thanks.
    I'd better 'F7' next time too.
  • Any other comments?
  • Any more for any more?
  • You know I really wish I had made it more important, you know the last seven years have flown by and I still haven't done half I wanted to. Its not just discepline either its family issues and crud that goes with. My new years resolution is to take what I want with life a little more seriously and not be a mug for everyone. I was told at one point that I took up too much space in the kitchen (which is where I write and paint), I nearly binned everything then and gave up, but I'm glad I didn't I will get there eventually. Jay as everything I have done is on the computer I have it all dated, as I save modified drafts separately, means I have a hell of a lot of files but I really don't mind.

    Oh well back to the housework
  • Very important point for us all.
  • To get back to the housework? :(
  • I'm a great believer that things happen at the right time for the right reasons so I have no regrets about coming late to writing. Now Jay's listed many of his mistakes, most of which are mine, and I am still early enough in my writing (I was going to write career but I don't think I can call it that yet), I can now learn from his regrets and make sure they're not mine. I am forever opening files that aren't relevant so now instead of wasting my time surfing I'll take those five minutes and tidy up my files. Thanks Jay
  • edited December 2008
    I think I might just have to copy and paste your list into a word document, Jay, as an aide memoire. Thanks for posting it!
  • Anyone like to contribute? Febes, I thought you might find this useful.
  • Thanks Jay. I think my response would be to never have tried to be published in the first place :D

    I will have a proper read later, I didn't realise how long it was!
  • I wish I'd started earlier.
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