PDA

View Full Version : Files: What to keep, how to organize it?



K1P1
10-23-2006, 02:06 AM
I have too much stuff. I started out with a business and enough filing space, and that's fine. I maintain my business records. I maintain records of my knitting designs. I maintain all the course materials for the workshops I offer. And I keep track of leads and contacts for promotions.

Things were going just fine, then I wrote a book. There was nowhere to put the materials associated with the book so they're sititng on top of the file cabinet. The problem is, the book was released fall 2005 and I'm now writing another book.

What do YOU do?

After you finish a book and it's released, what do you keep? Do you keep any of the drafts? Do you keep notes? Materials related to illustrations? Anything else? How long do you keep them? Where do you keep them?

If I were writing the Great American Novel, I might be tempted to keep drafts and donate them to a library if I'm ever famous. But I can't convince myself that knitting technique books will ever put me in this category. Of course, some day, I might write the GAN.

Moonfish
10-23-2006, 03:15 PM
I keep way too many versions of drafts. And in different places too... Should think of a system, but haven't so far. And I have too many versions on my computer too, and never know which is the most recent...

Freckles
10-23-2006, 07:20 PM
I tend to get a bit OCD about saving things...it's getting pretty bad, too. I'll give someone a million dollars if they devise a good system. It seems like the stuff I throw out is what I need and what I save, I never look at again.

K1P1
10-23-2006, 07:48 PM
Umm, guys, this is just a bit depressing. I guess it's good to know that you all have the same problem. Maybe all the organized people can't respond because they're busy trying to catch up on their filing.

DeborahM
10-23-2006, 08:26 PM
This is what I do:

As I write my ms, I keep notes, character profiles, research, printed calander, list of characters, etc. in a ring binder, where I can look at them without having to scroll back up the ms.

Important info (especially dates, anything with numbers) either gets put on the calander or notes. Then I also have a sheet of things to bring back around so not to leave paths, hints, info leaks left out hanging in the wind.

When the ms has a final edit it is saved AGAIN on the cd and the ms is printed out and put into the ring binder.

Any old edited hardcopies are tossed, because I've used both sides or torn inhalf to make general everyday notes on when I'm on the computer.

Hope this helps.

SeanDSchaffer
10-23-2006, 08:32 PM
I have too much stuff. I started out with a business and enough filing space, and that's fine. I maintain my business records. I maintain records of my knitting designs. I maintain all the course materials for the workshops I offer. And I keep track of leads and contacts for promotions.

Things were going just fine, then I wrote a book. There was nowhere to put the materials associated with the book so they're sititng on top of the file cabinet. The problem is, the book was released fall 2005 and I'm now writing another book.

What do YOU do?

After you finish a book and it's released, what do you keep? Do you keep any of the drafts? Do you keep notes? Materials related to illustrations? Anything else? How long do you keep them? Where do you keep them?

If I were writing the Great American Novel, I might be tempted to keep drafts and donate them to a library if I'm ever famous. But I can't convince myself that knitting technique books will ever put me in this category. Of course, some day, I might write the GAN.


I keep my files in a 4-drawer filing cabinet in my living room. My major problem is that I keep just about every file that I've ever made, and I presently have one and one half drawers of the cabinet filled with nothing but manuscripts. I'm thinking of taking the majority of those manuscripts, because I will never finish them, and destroying them or at least putting them into a box for safe keeping.

What I will probably do is the latter, because I have enough boxes to last me a while, and I have way too much stuff in the cabinet that should not be there.

K1P1
10-23-2006, 08:43 PM
I have 4-drawer file cabinet, plus a stack of 4 file storage boxes (the cardboard ones), but they're already full of my business records.

I have the submitted draft with all the image files for suggested illustrations, the version with copyeditor and editor's changes/comments, and the version with my final edits as digital files on two different computers (I got a new one and just didn't delete them off the old ones), as well as backed up on CD.

On top of the file cabinet, I've got a big ziplock bag full of the knitted samples I used for photography for them to pass on to the artist (these still come in handy when I need an example of something), a printout of the initial submission, a 3-ring binder full of the copyedited version that I had to take with me on a trip to California to review by their deadline, and a copy of the first pages, for my final review before printing. I also have folders with the roughs of the illustrations and my corrections to them and the final versions of the illustrations with my corrections to them.

I'm thinking that I could get rid of all the paper copies except the first pages - which come in handy if I run across an error to see what my original intention was. I don't use the paper copies of the text - if I want to find something in a hurry I just search the digital text.

But then, I've also got copies of the ms. I've copy edited for various publishers. Since I haven't heard back from them, I could probably just keep the specific pages with changes and ditch the rest. Some of these I edited in the digital file, so could just keep a CD. Once the publication date is past, I can't see any reason to keep these. Actually, once I've been paid I can't really see a reason to keep them.

ChunkyC
10-24-2006, 01:21 AM
I'm a packrat, I keep everything. I have pants I wore thirty years ago. Now there's probably not enough material in them to cover one leg, let alone two and my backside, but I just can't give 'em up.

Oh ... writing related ... right....

For my column, I keep all the notes I take while watching a movie and stash them in a file in my filing cabinet.

For novels, I keep all printouts and notes, etc. and put them in a box, one per novel. My short stories get a single box to share.

As for computer files ... I burn backup CDs of my work. I haven't generated enough to fill a single CD yet. Part of the reason is that I use OpenOffice, which creates files one tenth the size of a Word file (yet another reason to say :e2moon: to Word).

I have not had a novel published yet, but what I plan to do when that happens is once everything is finalized and the book has gone to print, I'll burn all the files to do with that book to a CD and put it in the box with all the other stuff to do with that particular book.

And you guessed it: I'll never delete the original files from my hard drive. ;)

allion
10-24-2006, 03:13 AM
ChunkyC, love the mooning smilie!

For me, it's Rubbermaid or other related plastic containers. Not great to look at, but the stuff is in one spot, relatively speaking.

I keep everything, even the crappy stuff. Is there a support group for us?

Karen

JDCrayne
10-24-2006, 04:05 AM
Umm, guys, this is just a bit depressing. I guess it's good to know that you all have the same problem. Maybe all the organized people can't respond because they're busy trying to catch up on their filing.

Back in 1993 I had a distressing experience with an agent, who sent one of my novels to a publisher and then did not follow up for a full year. That depressed me to the point that I decided to give up on writing. (I'd had some short stories published by then, but no novels.) So, when my husband and I started packing to move from Los Angeles to Northern California, I trashed everything. WIPs, drafts, story ideas; every piece of hardcopy I found in files and boxes went into the rubbish. Two years later, an old friend who had gone into publishing asked if I had anything she could look at. For a good three weeks, my husband and I rooted through boxes of old diskettes -- some in obsolete formats -- rescuing my oeuvre from oblivion. The moral is, if you have the slightest idea that you may someday want it, keep it.

I write for the ebook market these days and keep one working file and a back-up for the WIP, and the final version and a back-up for completed work. I keep the incomplete El Stinko stuff too -- I may be able to cannibalize it for something else, someday. I don't keep any hardcopy at all, because I never have any reason to print it out these days.

K1P1
10-24-2006, 04:12 AM
I guess I ought to confess that the paper storage is just a small part of my problem. Since I'm a knitting designer, I've got yarn. A wall of yarn. In rubbermaid containers and sweater boxes. And I've got my completed sample garments (a huge overflowing rubbermaid tote). And the display equipment for when I do shows (two more rubbermaid totes). And I'm a handspinner, so I've got two spinning wheels in here and an extra stool. And a cabinet full of spinning fibers.

The paper doesn't take up all that much space, really...

victoriastrauss
10-24-2006, 05:02 AM
I keep everything, but most of it's electronic (including research notes--yes, I back everything up), and I never print out my books until they're finished. So my paper files aren't overwhelming. However, I've still got way too much to fit into my limited office space, so much of my paper stuff lives in Rubbermaid containers in the basement.

About destroying one's work...I knew a painter once who in a fit of self-destructive depression dragged all her paintings out to the dumpster (and didn't think better of it and rescue them before the garbagemen took them away). I just can't imagine doing something like that--it's like killing a piece of yourself, or denying that a part of your life existed.

- Victoria

Melissa_Marr
10-24-2006, 07:07 AM
Hmm, after reading these replies I'm a bit hesitant to say this, but . . . I love throwing things out (READ: Recycling the paper, not tossing it in the bin). I don't save much paper at all. I do have a handful of journals with scrawl for works not done, but once the works are done & the journals are filled they'll go in the trash.

I have the essentials--contracts, receipts in various envelopes--but I don't print much of anything. If I do have hard copy, it usually gets tossed in one of my regular (and gleeful) discarding sessions. My spouse gently suggested I should retrieve my first annotated draft of the novel from the discard pile, so I felt guilty and did so. I shoved it in a drawer where it awaits my family's inevitable consenting to my tossing it too. (They react like this when I get on a donation kick too: taking things back out of my to-donate collections and scurrying off to hide them.)

E-copy is different. I have versions of the text saved. I have a backup drive that mirrors my harddrive. I save email. I save notes. That is useful for jogging my memory, so it makes sense to me.

Tangible things though . . . Nope. If I don't need it for taxes, I get rid of it. I always have done this. Sometimes it's a shredding fest. Once it a while I've tossed things in the fireplace. Usually though, I simply recycle or discard it. No filing required then :)

Melissa

Lyra Jean
10-24-2006, 08:25 AM
What is this organization you speak of?

I have a few 2'' binders that I keep everything in. I don't have a whole lot of stuff. When or if I get a new desk and I have room I might upgrade to a filing cabinet. I'm starting to save everything on CD.

I live with my folks still so my room is all the space I have and that space is a tiny space. Lucky for me all my sewing stuff fits in the closet.

kikonie
10-24-2006, 08:44 AM
I keep way too many versions of drafts. And in different places too... Should think of a system, but haven't so far. And I have too many versions on my computer too, and never know which is the most recent...

I write from three different locations, so I make sure the most recent version is always available in my email. Each version is numbered. I save each version at all three locations. I also go into my manuscript folder and delete old versions, leaving every tenth version or any that might have special significance. The only hard copies I have are the chapters I share with my writing group with all the suggestions scribbled onto them.

You don't have to be working from more than one place to do this, but then you'd want to burn them to rewritable disks. FYI...dating them could cause problems if you screw up the date or the computer thinks it knows better than you do.

K1P1
10-24-2006, 01:34 PM
What is this organization you speak of?

As I said, I have my business records, for example my customer files, with invoices and statements for all my customers. I do desktop publishing and distribute my own line of knitting patterns. My publisher is one of my customers for copy editing and technical editing services as well as paying me advances and royalties. I also do editing work for other publishers. I keep contracts in these same files because it's too confusing to have multiple files for any given customer (I have contacts for books, for magazine articles, for editing work and for freelance teaching). These businesses and individuals all have customer files, but there really isn't room there to keep a copy of the work I did for them, even temporarily. The result is that the financial records go into the organized file, and the ms. sit around on the floor and on top of the file cabinet while I try to figure out what to do with them. At the moment, I can't even find the copy on CD that I kept of the last article I submitted to a magazine--and that was only in the last two weeks. It's here somewhere...

It's all very well for some of those who've posted here to say that they never work with paper, but if that's what the publisher sends you to edit or review, you don't have much choice. I know I should keep the marked up copies of things I've edited for a while, in case a question comes up from the publisher (whether it's my own book or someone else's that I've edited). The questions are how long do I keep them and how do I organize these thick stacks of paper so I can find anything? I think the only workable way would be to put each in a big labeled envelope and stick them in a plastic tote in some kind of order (date? title? publisher?).

Norman D Gutter
10-24-2006, 04:32 PM
I was recently at a conference and sat in a fiction writing class taught by David Morrell, author of First Blood, on which the Rambo character and movies were based. I also bought his book. He recommends keeping everything: all drafts, all edited hard copies, all research materials. He adds to this copies of reviews, correspondence with agents/editors/publicists. These become a record of your career. Also research materials might be appropriate for another project down the road. In his case, having achieved fame and a full-time career based on writing novels, he is donating his boxed-up materials to the University of Iowa, where he used to teach.

I'm following that model, though the files for my completed novel are not as organized as they need to be.

NDG

K1P1
10-24-2006, 04:42 PM
He recommends keeping everything: all drafts, all edited hard copies, all research materials. He adds to this copies of reviews, correspondence with agents/editors/publicists. These become a record of your career. Also research materials might be appropriate for another project down the road. NDG

In that case, I'd better write a blockbuster, 'cause I'll need a much bigger house. OTOH, I doubt that anyone will really want to see the draft stages of knitting technique books. :)

SeanDSchaffer
10-24-2006, 06:24 PM
One thing I forgot to add in my previous post is that whenever I can get one, I get one of those file boxes, that has a handle on the top. I find those to be very handy when it comes to filing recent works away whilst I work on them.

I like the idea of 2" binders to put my work in. In fact, I did something similar with some of my works, and what I have done has kept my work in pretty good shape.

Also, I like to take ancient manuscripts, written in B.C. times (Back-in-Childhood) and put them in manila envelopes where they can be preserved. A lot of my older manuscripts are gone now, as I remember having scanned them onto a CD some time ago. The paper copies are gone, but at least I have the scanned versions still.

What I really need is a better way to file everything. I think if I did not use my filing cabinet, for instance, for storing non-paper items (phone books and photographs, for example) I would have much more storage space within that cabinet. It is not really an issue of too many manuscripts, as it is too much other stuff in the cabinet.

I hope you'll all forgive me for my rambling. I am more talking to myself now than anything else.

Still, if this helps anyone else out, then, good.

K1P1
10-29-2006, 07:13 PM
Just a follow up. I'm feeling very virtuous. I cleaned up my office/studio yesterday. Filed all the material from my first book in a file tote. Threw out a bunch of old papers and sorted out others. Now I can actually get to the file cabinet and open the drawers. The next step is to empty all the infrequently referenced stuff out of those file drawers and put them in more totes, then I'll have space for files of things like my freelance submissions.

My biggest worry is that this is actually procrastination from writing my book...

icerose
10-29-2006, 07:28 PM
When I do longhand I keep them safe until I type it all up and then I throw the pages away so I don't confuse them with a later draft. I keep backups of all my electronic stuff, including the full story, I don't throw away whole stories just because they were printed somewhere. I keep them in a file called COMPLETED. Then I have an ideas folder a WIP folder then a misc, childrens and poetry, and so on and so forth. I keep all files associated with each story in one folder under the title of the story, this keeps it all together. Then once I have fully written it, I discard any drafts that were substandard as well as extraneous notes, combining them all into one file.

Paper copies that I want to keep, I punch three holes in the side, slap them in a binder and put them safely on my bookshelf where I keep all my other useless childhood stuff, such as awards, and grade sheets, and drawings and such.

scottVee
10-30-2006, 09:30 AM
I have old drafts of novels, but even though I can admit that they have no value, I can't see pulping them. For short stories and poems, I often send the drafts to family members. Shifting the heap, I guess.

Really, though, what earthly reason is there to save a printed draft of a novel? Even if we somehow become "famous" (whatever THAT means), will we want anyone to see crummy chunks of text that have been replaced long ago? They're just an embarrassment waiting to resurface.

K1P1
10-30-2006, 03:17 PM
Really, though, what earthly reason is there to save a printed draft of a novel? Even if we somehow become "famous" (whatever THAT means), will we want anyone to see crummy chunks of text that have been replaced long ago? They're just an embarrassment waiting to resurface.

They are of great benefit to literary scholars, especially if there is any way to date them. 100 years from now when someone is studying your work, they may want to see that the first draft of your fourth novel was actually done long before the first published work. They will be looking for influences on your writing and may correlate what was happening in world events, in politics, and in your personal life with what went down on paper. There are lots of reasons to keep these materials and to donate them to a university or research library with a Special Collections department that will maintain them for scholars to use.

On the other hand, you may not want anyone to know, in which case you should destroy them NOW. :)

Bubastes
10-30-2006, 08:38 PM
Hmm, after reading these replies I'm a bit hesitant to say this, but . . . I love throwing things out (READ: Recycling the paper, not tossing it in the bin). I don't save much paper at all. I do have a handful of journals with scrawl for works not done, but once the works are done & the journals are filled they'll go in the trash.
Melissa

No need to apologize for this. I'm an unrepentant declutterer myself. I don't save anything except the essentials. The shredder is my best friend. Drafts overtax my limited brain capacity, so I get rid of them. The way I work, getting rid of the old makes more room for the new and keeps the creative juices flowing (clutter = clot, to my mind). JMO.

janetbellinger
10-30-2006, 09:33 PM
I save my journals but just about everything else in hard copy writing ends up in the garbage bin. I'd throw out the journals too, but I have these paranoid fantasies about a sanitary engineer retrieving them from the dumpster and reading them. Not too grandiose am I?

sammyig
10-30-2006, 10:10 PM
I keep a 3-ring binder for each project. Then, I back up drafts using various free e-mail accounts, cd and on my hard drive. I also make sure to have a hard copy in a box somewhere.

Bubastes
10-30-2006, 10:20 PM
It's all very well for some of those who've posted here to say that they never work with paper, but if that's what the publisher sends you to edit or review, you don't have much choice. I know I should keep the marked up copies of things I've edited for a while, in case a question comes up from the publisher (whether it's my own book or someone else's that I've edited). The questions are how long do I keep them and how do I organize these thick stacks of paper so I can find anything? I think the only workable way would be to put each in a big labeled envelope and stick them in a plastic tote in some kind of order (date? title? publisher?).

Hmmmm, if I were in your shoes I'd probably keep the mark ups for, say, five years (I just picked that number out of the air).

To organize them, I'd use a small file cabinet and hanging file folders (one of my favorite inventions). If I had a lot of articles, I'd mark each hanging file folder by month, then keep each marked up article in a manila folder with the date/title/publisher. All the manila folders corresponding to a given month go in the hanging file folder for that month.

If I really wanted to go all out, I'd get the manila folders that have the bendy prongs and a two-hole puncher. I'd punch the top of the article and attach it to one set of prongs, then punch copies of relevant contract, correspondence, business info, check stub, etc. and attach them to the other set of prongs. That way, the orignal business records would still stay with my business stuff, but each article will also have its own business records as well.

I hope this helps! Did I mention that I'm anal-retentive? :D