Project Organization

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Dale Mayer back to my blog. Welcome, Dale!

Once again a huge thank you to Melanie for the invitation to join you here today! She’s been such a wonderful supporter, I can’t thank her enough.

One of the biggest joys in blogging is in learning something new from the readers via their comments. As a prolific writer, I struggle to keep a working system of everything I have ‘in progress.’

It’s easy enough to keep a folder on my desktop for each book and then keep manuscripts, back up notes, cut pieces (we all keep those don’t we?) and anything else inside. But how do you keep the projects clear and at your fingertips so you don’t get confused in your head?

It’s not a problem for everyone. If you have only one book you’ve been working on for the last year, your problem will be keeping track of your most recent copy – especially if you take long breaks in between writing. But what if you have several books in progress that you are writing, several books in progress that you are editing/revising? That complicates life. Then there is the additional complication of working on several computers depending on the day or even the time of day. Do you keep the files on a USB key (flash drive) or do you email the material back and forth? Or something else altogether?

See what I mean? It doesn’t take long before versions can get swapped out and projects can get lost on that ‘other’ computer and you end up making revisions or rewriting something you swore had already been done.

I currently have seven manuscripts in various states of work. I just finished writing a book for NaNoWriMo and have 150 pages of changes to input into that manuscript. I am trying to get a YA ms out the door for a contest I’ve had my eye on for several weeks now and I have the two ms I put into the GH that really should be gone over – you know – just in case I get that call!

Then there are the others – more YA and more RS. How to get organized and stay current?

Well, I don’t have a magic pill to give everyone a perfect system, but the system that I have is one that works for me – at least when I use it! The problem is I’m always looking to improve it.

So let’s take a look. In digital, I have a folder for each book. All books that I’m working on are in a folder called – yeah what else? – In Progress. Every time I open and work on a project, I save it by date and where it’s at in life cycle. I’d love to be one of those people that chart their productivity every day but honestly, that would only cut into my productivity. I do have a notes page inside each folder, where I try to keep track of the date and where the manuscript is at, which only works if I actually put something down there.

Then when I’m ready to revise, and I don’t revise on the computer, I print off a complete manuscript and put elastic around it until I’m ready to revisit that project. When I am, I go through and make whatever changes need to be done in hard copy and soft copy. Then I print off a second copy and put it in a binder. This gets put off to one side for a breather while I work on another book. I even use coloured binders depending on the book I’m working at. I do find it much easier to read the book when it’s printed off this way and the binder makes it much easier to keep around for awhile with kids and cats all through my space. I also tuck a simple notebook in the cover of each binder for those times when something comes to mind in regards to that story. This means I actually have a place to job down those notes where I’ll be able to find it again.

Right now on my desktop there are two binders and three manuscripts with elastic around them.
At least I won’t run out of things to do any time soon!

What about you? How do you write? Suggestions? One book at a time? One book and revise it before starting a second book? Do you use writing software to stay on track? Or are you so lost that your desk is heaped with things to take care of?

Please note: Dale Mayer is a finalist in the Brava Writing with the Stars Contest. Voting is open HERE until January 2. Good luck, Dale!!



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9 responses to “Project Organization

  1. Thanks for the great post and ideas. Even though I only have one work in progress currently, it can still be a small challenge to keep everything organized.

  2. Hi Bessie! I started by only working on one project and that was quite a challenge. As I ended up with more and more projects, of course, each one at a different stage of development. I slowly worked on developing some way to keep track of where each ms was and what each needed.

    Thanks for stopping by – have a very happy New Year!


  3. Hey, Dale, I was working on more than one project a while back. The fun one helped me unwind from the serious one. I should be back with the serious, violent one next week. I’ll need a new silly one.

  4. Hi Mary – now that’s a great way to work two projects together. I’m sure working on the fun one would help the other one to progress too. When I’m working on fun projects, I have a tendency to want to stay with them and finish them – because they are fun to do! Using the fun project to work through the harder one is something I should try myself!

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that next year is going to be the best one yet!

  5. Hey Dale!
    You have inspired me to let go of the idea that working on more than one thing isn’t really working. I use Scrivener on my mac and think one of my resolutions will be to learn more about the program. I’m even going to let myself write scenes as they come, knowing I can shuffle them around on the program… Flexibility will be my name in 2011. Maybe I’ll start doing yoga!

  6. You’re welcome, Dale! Hope your New Year is fabulous!

    Mary, that is a good idea, too. The book I’ve been working on is about a foster dog I had, and it was definitely hard to write at times.

  7. Hi Laura – I used to think that working on more than one project would mean splitting my energy and I’d get even less done. In my case, I found out that it spurs me on to keep up with all the ideas in my head. The muse, I once heard, is like a faucet, to get water,you have to turn it on. That means to keep the creative juices flowing, you need to use them. Once you open up to the idea, you’ll find many projects to work on. That also means many more scenes flooding in at the same time! Scrivener might be the way to go!

    Thanks for stopping by and hope to hear more from you as life calms down.

  8. Hi, Dale,
    I decided to prioritize my stories and found I had too many to keep in my head. Thanks for all the great tips.

    Ironically I was just looking for a programs for Mac that would organize miscellaneous notes, something besides Scrivener where I find my notes are growing out onto everything, notebooks, stickies, computer stickies, recorder. I found slipnote, a free program, which allows you to just jot notes as they come to you. You apply keywords and it searches quickly by that or just raw search. Twig looks even better but there’s a cost.

    How many do you work on at the same time?

  9. Hi Marley! I don’t know much about Scrivener but love my sticky notes! They cover my desktop and with the click of a button they disappear until I need them again.

    I work on as many manuscript as I have. I only write one at a time – NORMALLY but with my YAs I started a new one every day for four days in a row!


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