I’ve worked with lots of aspiring and beginning writers and one of the biggest stumbling blocks to their creativity is simple mundane disorganization. They can’t find the latest revisions they made to a chapter – or they can’t find the file at all in their computer. So here, as boring as it sounds, excerpted from my book “How To Be A Writer Who Writes: Strategies and Tactics to Start and Finish Your Book or Script“, are 5 or 6 Guidelines for File Management:

1.  ALWAYS Use Headers (with Date and Page Numbers)

2.  Print Out Every Week or 10 Pages

3.  After You Print Out, ‘Save As’ a “File-v2”, “v3”, Etc.

4.  Send Files to Yourself or a Trusted Friend For Backup

5.  Use Consistent File Names

And / or . . .

6.  Save Files In the Same Common Project Folder

If you don’t follow these guidelines, you’re going to have trouble keeping track of what’s where and finding things when you need them.

When you keep your files organized, it helps you stay organized so you can find files when you need them. It’s also a psychological boost because you can see your work accumulating.

You probably already have one or more computer files containing material for your current project. If you have one big file, that’s fine. If you have several smaller files, that’s fine too.

I wrote this book in 5 files, one for each chapter/phase. When I entered Phase 4 (“Revising”), I copied and pasted the pieces together into one big file (for continuous page numbering—and a sense of accomplishment).

While you’re in process, separate files can sometimes be more manageable and make it easier to locate material. If you like, you can wait until the end of Phase 3 to assemble your project into one continuous draft—unless you’re writing a script, in which case you should always work in one big file.

When you get to the end of a chapter (or act), print out. If you’re having trouble with a section or sequence, print out.

Often seeing the material on paper helps give you perspective. It’s also a way of backing up your material. If you end up losing or writing over the computer file, at least you’ll have a print-out of your original version.

Once you print out, immediately ‘Save As’ the same file title but with the next progressive draft number (like “GATHERING-v2” . . . “v3”, etc.)

OK, there, housework is over. That wasn’t so bad, was it? You probably skipped this section anyway. But believe me, a little boring organization in the beginning will make your life easier during the remainder of the project.

If you get nothing else from this book, please, use headers with page numbers and a current date on every file.

Always use a header
(including date & page number)

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This material is excerpted from “How To Be A Writer Who Writes: Strategies and Tactics to Start and Finish Your Book or Script” by Greg Miller. Get the book for Kindle or any other e-book formats.

Contact Greg directly for one-on-one coaching that is “Revelatory and dead-on!“.

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