Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Cleaning

I'll probably reflect on the writing of 2010 at some point, but we here at the Burning Zeppelin Experience have never been bound by standards of punctuality, how have we? What I want to write about this year is writerly organization.

You see, I was recently lucky enough to buy myself a new computer (a MacBook, by the way, which means that we will see the return of the •, which is remarkably hard to type on a PC, you know). As I was (slowly, laboriously, via flash drive) migrating stuff from my old computer(s), I realized that my computer organization system sucks. My professional stuff is pretty well sequestered in an island of stability, but the rest of it my hard drive is a welter of miscategorized files, enormous folders filled with trash, and folders called simply "Sort."

In fact, in one place I even have a folder called "Desktop Stuff" inside a folder called "To Sort" and that one inside another folder called "Sort."

Considering my recent discovery that I am actually more of an outliner than I thought I was, I decided that it might be a good idea to bring some method to this madness. After all, if I'm going to be writing outline after outline, it might be prudent to have some place to put all these files.

After some thought (and a conversation with the Abigail), I came up with a system that goes something like this:

  • Fiction
    • Flash and Flitter
    • Short
      • Notes
      • In Progress
      • Completed
      • Hiatus
    • Novel
      • Notes
      • In Progress
      • Completed
      • Hiatus
    • Well

There's also a somewhat better organized place for all my gaming stuff - including the games I'm trying to write - but that's neither here nor there. What does all this mean? Well, Flash and Flitter is for flashfiction, flitterfiction, and perhaps even the occasional microfic or drabble. You don't need much more categorization in there; if you can't finish a flash piece in one sit down or need to keep extensive notes, you're probably doing something wrong, as that's kind of the point. Short and Novel are, unsurprisingly, for short stories and novels. Within each of those folders I have a place to keep a story when it's just a collection of notes, when I'm actually working on it, when it's done, and when it's on hiatus. For organizational purposes, each story that gets beyond the "single word document of notes" stage will get a folder of its own for storing outlines, successive versions, dumpster files (more on those some other day) and notes.

The Well, on the other hand, is an idea I've alluded to before (there, though, I called it the threshing floor). Basically, this is the place where ideas go to die and be reborn. When a character study fully fails to produce something I'm going to use, when a cosmology turns out to be nothing more than so much high concept gibberish, or whatever, this is the folder I'll dump it in. Maybe once in a while I'll clean it out and get rid of the stuff that I deem totally useless, but it's not like my new machine has any lack of storage. After all, you never know when something is going to turn out to be useful later.

Well, I hope this was useful for you all. I'm going to bed.

And by the way, I've decided to name my new computer Bright Itempas, because after one gray computer, one black computer, and one navy blue computer, this dude's whiteness is intolerable. Also, you should be reading N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Why? Because it's good. I'll review it later.

Until next time, remember who you are, hold on to yourself, and see it through.

1 comment:

Scattercat said...

My computer is named "Intransigence." My Kindle, therefore, is "Contumacy."

Me, I've always been far too prone to sorting and organizing, from M&Ms to socks. I've long had my writing shuffled into various folders and sub-folders, subject to periodic purges and massive reorgs. Basic structure is similar, though I have one unitary "In Progress" folder (and its included "Graveyard." My equivalent holding pattern for ideas tends to be Mirrorshards itself.)