I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING

Because we writers want to write, we resent anything that takes our time away from that pursuit. Mostly, I hate it when I know I have something and can’t find it. To spend thirty minutes searching is to steal time from writing. So this year, if I do nothing else, it will be to organize my office so I can find my “stuff” when I need it. It might be a phone number, or the name of someone who has information I need or directions to the nearest pizza joint.

To add a photo to this blog, I had to stop and search through a pile of business cards to get the name of the people who took the photo so I could give them credit for doing such a great job making me more attractive than I am. So something has to be done with the two huge stacks of cards. I’ve tried keeping them in plastic envelopes in books made especially for that. Fine, but they’re full and some of the cards in there are so outdated I’m sure the information is no longer viable. Should I call each one and update? That’ll never happen.
Then there are the interviews I’ve done over the years, all written on yellow legal pads, ripped out and stapled. I solved storage, I believe by making file folders labeled for each area and sliding them in. Not alphabetized, of course. When I need something about that area, I can find all the interviews in that folder. We’ll see how that works over the year.
Because I write a lot of historical articles, I may need a date or name or place when I’m in the middle of an article. Some historians can keep that information in their heads. My hard drive up there is full, and I have no control over what it decides to throw out to keep something else. Therefore, notes are what I have to rely on. All my published articles are on discs in the order of publication with each year in a separate file, so it’s pretty easy to pop a disc in the computer and find what I’m looking for. Isn’t it nice that the computer puts the file titles in order and includes the date written so I don’t have to? I simply label them by the name of the place I’m writing about or the person, and the search is simplified.
I also find bank boxes great for keeping research materials handy. One wall is taken up with cubicles that each hold a box so I can simply pull out the proper one, already labeled, before the real search begins. Those boxes hold a heck of a lot of pieces of paper, photos, etc.
Even with these conveniences, my office still has stacks of “stuff” I’m not sure what to do with. I have two swollen file folders that read, “Stuff from desk top.” When I get so many notes I’ve made with URLs, telephone numbers, people’s names, that I seem to have no place for, I stick them all in a file folder. I only wish I could figure out how to arrange this information. I have begun a book with URLs that I want to check out someday. The awful truth is, that day may never come.
Besides all the above, I have a two-drawer file cabinet, a four-drawer file cabinet, two huge book shelves totally stuffed, three enormous plastic tubs slipped under one of the units that hold manuscripts, galleys, etc., that I wonder how long I need to keep. Probably ought to simply dump all those, but some of the ms hold promise and one day maybe I can rewrite one and sell it.
Ah, the life of a writer. Especially one who is not very well organized. I don’t think I could work if my desktop was clean and I had no stacks piled around me. It’s somehow soothing to know all this is at my fingertips, if I only have time to go through it. I sometimes worry that I have the symptoms of being a hoarder. Who knows?
Any suggestions or solutions are welcome.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in cleaning off desks, desk organizing, filing historical records, office organizing, Velda Brotherton. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING

  1. CJ Clark says:

    The more I write, the more I find myself keeping things. I'd hate to think what would happen if I ever have to move.File folders with pubbed manuscripts and all the research that goes into them.File folder for unpubbed mss.Business cards–although I have a Rol-a-Dex, don't use it. Usually rubber band them all together. Outdated? Probably. Probably a quick search on the Net would give me the updated info (except for personal addresses,etc)URL's: they change so fast, I can't see any reason to keep a listI guess clutter is just part of being a writer!

  2. Sheila Deeth says:

    I'm working on the being organized. Just read "The Productive Writer" by Sage Cohen. She has quite a few pieces of advice for getting organized, and she's offering a free copy to one lucky commenter on my blog.

  3. I appreciate the comments. Know what you mean, CJ. I know I have lots of stuff that isn't necessary. Wish I could weed it out. Thanks Sheila. Will take a look.

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