Linda Maye Adams

The Why of Organizing Writing Files


My post last week triggered some interesting comments on organizing, so I thought I would address some of the major reasons of WHY.

Why #1

I’ve always just created a folder, slapped some name on it, then saved files to the folder. I wasn’t always careful about naming the files or the folders because I was always rushing off to do something else. So sometimes the file names didn’t make much sense to me later.

Then there was the Doc1 files, where I just saved the default …

Then there was the novel project …

I was trying one of those Write Your Book in 30 Days, which had all these different worksheets for each week, and it was a lot. I tried naming them the best I could, and I was trying to save backups of my writing files as well. I ended up with at least fifty files in one folder, and it was a like a visual clutter to me. Even though they were dated and sorted that way, I had trouble finding the last thing I worked on because there was too much chaos.

Then I’d need something from an older version that I’d taken out — but because of how inconsistently I’d named them and from the visual clutter of all of them, I had trouble finding what I was looking for!

So an Z – Old Files Folder preserves the files, but controls how much I have to wade through on a daily basis.

Why #2

In December, my computer failed. I’d done some backups of the story material on flash drives, but I hadn’t backed all my documents up.

I thought I could use what I had.

I was missing two stories. They somehow didn’t make it over from the other computer.

I continued to make flash drive backups of my current computer.

A third story has disappeared.

So I paid to have the hard drive recovered. On my new computer, I have 2K of files. With the additional files, it went to 6K. I also found that I hadn’t lost three stories — it was four, plus one poem. I had short stories in three different main folders. The four were all in a folder that never made it into the backups. The poem was called “wra.” The name even looked like it wasn’t anything important. I only found it because I opened the file to see what it was.

I almost deleted it unopened.

I’m also finding duplicates, caused because I wasn’t consistent in what I named the files. Couldn’t find the file, so I recreated it. Instead, I had 2, 3, or even 4 files.

I’m also finding files where the context was needed to understand the file name, and the context is no longer there.

But the real reason is that I shouldn’t be making more work for myself when I write, or when I do something else on my computer. It’s easy to think that the name isn’t that important, but I’m having to spend a lot of time figuring out what the files are, which should have been unnecessary.

3 Comments

  1. When I have mulitple versions of a story, sometimes I rely on the latest date.

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  2. Have you ever thought about using a cloud service to back up your writing? I’m currently using Dropbox with a folder in it dedicated to writing, and my files get synchronized between my desktop and laptop computers, which is pretty handy because I use both for writing.

    I know not everyone is comfortable with using cloud storage for stuff for various reasons, but one of the things I like about it is that my work is backed up off-site in case some disaster, such as a fire or meteor impact, befalls my residence and destroys any physical storage media I happen to be using here.

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    • Won’t touch it. It’s not as good a deal as it sounds. You’re putting your data in someone else’s hands. You have no way of knowing if they’re actually making backups or not. Plus, most of the security is really pretty bad because it’s cheaper to pay people for a breach than it is to put up the security. Then there’s the user agreements, where companies have tried to claim the data posted to them as their own. And most people sign the agreements without even reading them …

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