Saturday, April 01, 2006

Lost files

I need to get more organized, I need to get more organized – so goes my mantra.

But really, I do. Not in the general sense of housekeeping and tidying (though that needs addressing too), but specifically with my document files. Several blogs ago, I alluded to having bits and pieces of writing in various files on my hard drive. At the time, I had no idea the state of disarray, bordering on chaos, these files were in -- until I tried to find something I wanted to resurrect.

I had one of those middle-of-the-night, astoundingly, brilliant ideas to add onto one of my older pieces. I jotted it down on an index card. First thing in the morning, I eagerly went to my computer to add this particularly illuminating insight to, to, to . . . What did I name that file? Do you think I could find it? Nope. I searched in all the usual places, but no luck. Maybe it was just an imaginary file, one I thought up while brushing my teeth, but never got around to actually committing to bits and bytes.

I have a habit of opening up Word, writing a paragraph or paragraphs, page or pages, depending on mood, ideas or lack of ideas, and then saving it with a title I think will be a memory prompt for when I want to get back to it. Sometimes I'm in a hurry when I do this, so the titles are often the first thing that comes to mind. Not a good idea.

Okay, so here's my dilemma. I used to have all my writing – everything from reviews, to opinion pieces, to rants, to creative fiction, to personal journal entries, to notes and quotes in one main folder titled, "writing". Makes sense, particularly when it's just a hobby. Within that folder, I have subfolders titled, Family, 300words, L's story, Shared Writing, Rants, technical notes, and a catch-all called Old Stuff.

But then, I started to branch out a bit with my writing. I created another folder to hold my articles to a now defunct online magazine. In that folder, I also have files of works-in-progress, ideas and notes. I added yet another folder for book reviews I wrote for my personal website (now languishing in obscurity and neglect), and yet another for what I call Notes, Quotes and Lists.

And now, here's where I really got into trouble – I started blogging.

I opened another folder called Blogger, because that's what I'm using to blog. I have sub-folders for Blog-Posts and First Drafts (a group writing blog). Everything else –including ideas and works-in-progress - is just a mess of docs rattling around in the bigger folder. In just a few months, the number of my files has exploded.

Not that I'm such a prolific blogger but because, besides the bits that actually end up as blogs, I keep coming up with ideas that might be bloggable. I end up saving them in separate files that range from just a few sentences to a few paragraphs. As you might gather, these bloggable bits also fall under general writing. So where do they go? Sometimes I leave them in the Blogger folder and sometimes I put them elsewhere, like Family or Rants or . . . well, you get the idea. I'm not very consistent.

Now, it wouldn't be so bad if my memory was a fraction of what it once was. Unfortunately, all those years of effective multi-tasking don't translate to good short-term memory at my current age.

I was reading on someone else's blog – was it Wenda's(?) – where she's organized all her writing in categories. I've heard that real writers do this. Do you think if I get more organized and categorize by subject matter, I can start calling myself a writer with a bit more confidence? At least it'll sound good. Need an article about walking on the seawall? No problem, it's right here under "Outdoor Recreation". It's definitely something I should look into.

So this is where I came in. I still can't find that darn file. Guess I'll just have to open a new Word document and start from scratch.

5 comments:

Simply Coll said...

I often have a similar predicament.. only it is with my photo files. I know I have saved that picture somewhere.. but where that somewhere is .. I am not sure. :-)

goldenlucyd said...

Hi Ell!
Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm happy to have found yours as well.
Senior memory---We all know the name of that tune! But we're better than ever in some ways too.
See you soon,
lucyd

ell said...

I have those too, but that's another story!

Journey Through Life said...

Clutter clearing! I can't function properly without it. My mind goes all fuzzy and I can't think straight.
I always have at least one clutter clearing task on the go. At the moment, it is going through the dozens of floppy disks I have that I no longer use - looking at them, deciding if I need to save them or delete them. Not an essential task - but one that I need to do for my sanity and lack of clutter - so it is a slow ongoing task. Every day or every evcouple of days, I sit down and look through a few of them. And the pile is slowly dwindling. My computer files are also slowly becoming more organised and clutter cleared of the rubbish. One little file at a time.

Why don't you start a new file - so you are not overwhelmed by the old ones - create the great new filing system that you want with the new one - and then slowly, bit by bit, go through the old files and file them correctly in the nice new organised one! Not only will you feel a great sense of satisfaction at being more and more organised, but it is SO exciting to come across things that you had forgotten about and re-read them etc.!!
Good luck and whatever way you do it, enjoy the process!

ell said...

JTL, thanks for the advice. I need all the help I can get. You're right about just getting started - a little at a time. :)