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Hathor
07-17-2008, 12:25 AM
Help! I'm a pretty organized (nay, anal) person. But I'm in my first book and my house is filling up with printouts of draft chapters, research material, handwritten notes, magazines & books that have something I was thinking of fitting in somewhere, etc., etc. How to I organize all this mess? (Oh, I didn't mention all the bookmarks I have to materials I haven't printed ...)

I have a rough idea of my planned chapters. But there is some material that can fit in more than one place. Other materials might be relevant in more than one chapter.

Any organizational tips to share?

I was going to ask for advice on when to stop researching but I think I have to find that strength from within :D

June Casagrande
07-17-2008, 04:27 AM
I'm the opposite kind of person -- definitely not organized. And the problem you described with organizing research and info extends into every area of my life: Does the salt go with the dry goods or the frickin' spices???

Life baffles me. Yet, despite this, I've published two nonfiction books that are cohesively organized. Now that you've got me thinking about it, I realize that the most important thing I learned is: Don't let forced organization trump organic organization.

For example, both books started with lists of chapters. Both strayed from my original plans. Both came out better as a result.

For organizing notes, it seems to my organizationally challenged mind that the only way to organize them is have them all in one format. If you have stuff in hard copy, I would print out the rest of it in hard copy, too (or perhaps print out placeholders that refer you to certain computer files or book pages). Then I'd put 'em in manila folders by chapter AND, if some docs apply to more than one chapter, I'd make duplicates (or placeholder pages) and but them in ALL the folders to which they apply.

Of course, those are just the idealistic ramblings of someone who spent months stumbling through her house muttering, "Now where did I put that big-ass dictionary?" So definitely don't do as I do, and proceed with skepticism if you want to do as I say.

But no matter what, don't let anything mess up the logical, natural flow of your information!

JenNipps
07-17-2008, 07:30 AM
I started keeping a notebook for everything. (You can see a description of my system here (http://www.theideapocket.com/knows.html).) It works for fiction and nonfiction. :)

As far as books and the like...I read in a book by Twyla Tharp (can't remember the name of it right now) that she puts books, videos, CDs, etc., in a file box. Maybe that will work for you? (I have a box to put materials in, just haven't really done it yet though I need to for both of my nonfiction projects.)

X900BattleGrape
07-17-2008, 08:44 PM
It's very quick and dirty, but I keep a word document that's in no particular order and simply has line after line of notes with a tag. Something like this:

Legal Regulation: Blah blah blah

Epilogue: Blah blah blah

It's not super handy, nor is it too tough to find things because I thought about the tags before hand, but it is better than forgetting something or having it stuck on a post that fell behind the desk or whatnot.

Cory Emberson
07-27-2008, 08:07 AM
I started keeping a notebook for everything. (You can see a description of my system here (http://www.theideapocket.com/knows.html).) It works for fiction and nonfiction. :)

As far as books and the like...I read in a book by Twyla Tharp (can't remember the name of it right now) that she puts books, videos, CDs, etc., in a file box. Maybe that will work for you? (I have a box to put materials in, just haven't really done it yet though I need to for both of my nonfiction projects.)

Jen, I like your KNOWS system. Do you have any screen shots or other examples of how your logs are set up? I am a recovering Post-It user. Right now, I do keep Word documents that include copy and paste posts from different forums (including AW now). It's handy if I just keep that document open to add to as I read stuff on the web. I also paste URLs in there as a reference, for when the web author adds more information.

JenNipps
07-27-2008, 10:01 PM
I don't have any screenshots right now, but on my main computer at home, I do have some Excel and Word files that contain the blank logs/forms. I can put them in a PDF format and load them to the site as well. I'll be home later this afternoon, so I can possilby have them loaded by mid-week.

susangpyp
07-29-2008, 01:46 AM
Is this for non-fiction? I follow my proposal but I've been stuck where I now want to change it (so be flexible sometimes). My manuscript is due in 4 weeks and I am totally freaking out.

cooeedownunder
07-29-2008, 04:39 AM
I started by putting all my notes, images ect into a document in what I considered may be the final order. I also stuck all those book mark links in the document, which later came to serve as part of the reference section. Although at times I thought I had finished researching, I never did until the final word had been edited. The editor constantly brought up questions and new idears that needed to be researched further. It was an ongoing chore. And I say chore, because at times I just wanted the damn thing to be finished. At lot of information I found needed to be cut, and other information that I never thought of had to be added. If you are writing a non-fiction book with images ect...and don't have a proper desktop publishing software package try scribus at the link below. ALthough you can't necessarily submit a formatted book to an editor as such, it can give you a great feel for how the final product could look, an will help you decide what to keep. The learning curve for this sofware is minimal - I think, although I do have a programming background. It will allow you to add graphics where you want, and after playing with it for a while you should fine it as easy as word.

http://www.scribus.net/

JenNipps
07-29-2008, 05:56 PM
Is this for non-fiction? I follow my proposal but I've been stuck where I now want to change it (so be flexible sometimes). My manuscript is due in 4 weeks and I am totally freaking out.

I think I'd probably be freaking out too. That's just how I am, though. *S*

The KNOWS works for either fiction or nonfiction. The sections would be slightly different, but not substantially so. There's a list of the sections to include for whatever project, fiction or nonfiction, you're working on.

(Due to requests, I'm working on making it suitable for multiple projects for essayists, short story writers, and articles.)

JenNipps
08-02-2008, 12:39 AM
OK, guys....

If you follow the link to the KNOWS page (http://www.theideapocket.com/knows.html), I've added some links to PDFs of a task sheet (NOT created by me, but I use it quite often), a blank submissions' log, and a KNOWS overview. I have a sources sheet converted to PDF as well, but I left it on the computer at home, so I'll load it after I get back on Sunday or Monday.

JenNipps
08-02-2008, 07:31 AM
Scratch that about the Sources page. I found a Word file on my flash drive and converted it to PDF. It's now on the site as well.

Hathor
08-02-2008, 07:26 PM
Thanks for the replies. I guess I didn't make clear the enormity of all the articles, studies, documents, caselaw, and miscellaneous notes, bookmarks, saved documents, etc. I have. It would be easier if each item logically fit into one and only one chapter, but quite a bit can go any number of places, or contain parts that logically belong in different chapters.

Right now I have stacks on my dining room table for each chapter, plus a miscellaneous "I don't know yet" stack about four inches high. (Would be higher but I haven't printed out everything -- we keep having printer problems.)

I'm feeling better because at least I know where everything IS at least. So that is progress.

You've all given me some ideas, though, so thanks. I should have replied before but I was slowly digging my way through all this STUFF ;)

JenNipps
08-04-2008, 01:15 AM
Hathor, from what you said above, it sounds like the file box system that Twyla Tharp describes in her book, The Creative Habit (finally remembered the name of it!), would more like what you're doing. She fully admits that some projects take more (sometimes many more) than just one box. She labels them so that, for future reference, if necessary, she'll be able to find it easily again.

brc23
08-06-2008, 06:01 AM
I am a big organizer. I would have the same trouble you do, Hathor, I just don't think I am as far along. ;)

You either need a filing cabinet JUST for your book or a book shelf.

I too have a word document with notes. When I find something I like say in a book....in the notes I write what I liked about it, book title and author. Then I do away with the book.

For magazines, I do NOT keep the whole thing. I rip out out the article I want, make sure on one of the pages it has the title and month/year, throw it in a three ring binder under it's topic.

This is all easier to do as you go, rather than to dig out. So start a new system and go from today...working back to organize the old stuff when you get a chance. If you have to reference the old stuff, then it's current and you can use it and put it in your new system.

Don't get overwhelmed by the amount in your old system. If you never touch it again...then you didn't really need it. As soon as you touch it, put it where it goes.

Hope it helps!

ATP
08-13-2008, 06:23 PM
Organisation can be as big or as small as you imagine and want it to be, and it needs to be. Part of it depends on how 'finicky' you are; another term for it is administration.

There are some rich resources or threads that may be found in the archives concerning your very question.

You might try a NF forum archive search,then follow this with a site-wide search (found on the front page, under the 'Welcome' message, on the top right of the page).

Alpha Echo
08-13-2008, 06:31 PM
I keep a flash drive with everything on it - websites, notes, research, draft 1, 2, etc. And I keep a notebook because I like to take handwritten notes more than typed notes for some reason...I'm weird.

jenngreenleaf
08-13-2008, 09:30 PM
I used binders and those portable milk-crate looking plastic storage things to house all my research material. Right now, because I'm light on research (I just started last week), I have a three-ring binder and a tote bag full of library books. This will soon be switched out to the other method because materials are coming in daily. This works best for me because I work from room to room in my home (office is still under construction).

tombookpub
08-14-2008, 05:30 PM
For text/research that can apply to different chapters, use MS word to note that the material you believe is destined for Chapter X, can also be used for Chapter Y. This can be done via the last column of a chart for example.

ATP
08-15-2008, 08:00 AM
Help! I'm a pretty organized (nay, anal) person. But I'm in my first book and my house is filling up with printouts of draft chapters, research material, handwritten notes, magazines & books that have something I was thinking of fitting in somewhere, etc., etc. How to I organize all this mess? (Oh, I didn't mention all the bookmarks I have to materials I haven't printed ...)

I have a rough idea of my planned chapters. But there is some material that can fit in more than one place. Other materials might be relevant in more than one chapter.

Any organizational tips to share?

I was going to ask for advice on when to stop researching but I think I have to find that strength from within :D

An archives search within the Writing NF Books forum turns up two pages of around 50 threads eg. organization. Of these, four have titles directly related to your question.