My Filing System: A.K.A. How to have over 200 projects and not cry

All right, so I did a count for this post, so as of the posting date, I’ve got 224 projects in various states of completion.

How do I manage to keep it all straight? I have a very makeshift filing system.

First of all, manila file folders are my best friend. They’ve been my best friend since senior year of high school when I realized that they were so much easier to use than binders, and so much cheaper. That’s not to say that I don’t use binders, but I’m particular with them. Binders have very specific functions, and they require things to be hole punched. I have a three-hole punch, but I prefer things that come that way. When I do it, it’s never quite right.

I do, that being said, have two binders, and they’re good for their own purposes, which is keeping track of characters and scenes I’ve already written for my two most massive fan fiction projects, which would never fit in file folder. I’m actually going to need bigger binders for these projects, but for now I’ve got what I’ve got.

Back to the manila file folders.

On each folder, I write at the top the story or series it pertains to. If it’s a series, and it’s not too long of a series, I have a sub-section, also written in Sharpie, for each story. My Hunger Games Fan Fiction series, however, has over  a hundred stories on its own, so I obviously don’t have a subsection for each one. I just put them in order in the folder.

What goes in these folders? Well, everything. I have a few things that tend to be in folders, from character lists to character profiles, outlines to snippets. Snippets are, of course, bits of text that I intend to put into the work as a whole, whether whole chapters or two-paragraph partials. Sometimes, for shorter works, I have entire drafts in the folder.

I then alphabetize my files by project, and I’ve even got a file for unassigned content (character lists I’ve not got plots for yet, mostly) and one with industry notes (likely agents to query for projects that are in editing stages, like To the Death, for example). When I’m more stable in regards to location, I’ll get a proper filing cabinet and really keep my manuscripts and notes well-organized, but this makeshift, on-the-fly system works for me. It’s easy to transport when I go back and forth from school and it helps me keep things straight. I’m actually in the process of converting all my notes to this system, since it’s worked so well thus far.

Do any of you have particularly useful systems? I’ve tried doing one notebook per project, but that tends to fail in a rather epic way whenever I do.

Cheers,

C

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