Chaos in a Teacup – Part 4

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 4
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If there’s one thing I’ve discovered, after interviewing dozens of authors, it’s that we don’t all write the same way. Our methods are as individual as we are. What works for me, won’t work for others. What this friend, or that, uses to organize, won’t mean anything to me. That’s okay. Take what works for you, and run with it.

That being said, allow me to list a few author types:

Those who type. As the name implies, these are the folks who sit down at the computer (or possibly the typewriter) and compose at the keyboard.

Those who write by hand. Some of us like the feel of pen (or pencil) and paper. Many use the typing process as an initial editing phase.

Those who narrate. I’ve tried the Digital Dragon software. While I liked it, it didn’t like me, much. I used names it didn’t understand, and apparently I don’t enunciate as well as I thought. However, it’s a handy tool.

There are, of course, combinations and variations, but these are the basic categories I’ve most often encountered.

For those who type or narrate, this isn’t as important. However, for those who write by hand, stay tuned.

On occasion, like when I have a doctor’s appointment, I don’t want to lose that time – particularly if I’m in the middle of a story. I’m old school, in some respects. I will take a notebook and pen with me to the appointment, and write while I wait. Since some of my doctors make me wait quite awhile, I have plenty of time to work on different stories.

However, when I’ve taken the story home and typed it out, I want to do something else with those pages. I used to keep the notebooks all stacked up, but the spirals tangle, and they’re bulky. If I tear out the pages, they can get lost, mixed up, or thrown out. That’s where an accordion file comes in handy. I take the loose pages, and drop them in one of the pockets.

Don’t for one second think that’s the only step in the process – wrong, wrong, wrong! I might have to go back and reference something that I cut out of the typed manuscript. Usually, I do this on purpose, but other times, I miss a line or so when I’m transcribing. If I had to dig through all the handwritten pages, with no hints or clues, I’d be at it all day.

Instead, I write the page number, date and story title at the top of each page. If it’s a long title, I scribble enough to give me a clue. Sometimes, that’s just the main character’s name. As I transcribe, I put a big check mark on the right hand side of the page, so I can see it easily when I flip through. I take all the pages and either staple, or clip, the pages together. Then, I drop them into the accordion file.

This sounds so simple and logical, but it took me a long time to think of it. I have a very steep learning curve, and I’m kinda slow on the uptake. Once I figure a system out, I just have to stick to it. That’s the key to it all. Make your system, and use it. What good is a method of approach, if you don’t implement it?

This doesn’t mean that I don’t still lose things. I’ve got a story that I’ve been working on for over a year, mostly written by hand. I only seem to work on it when I go to the doctor. Unfortunately, I think I filed it before I finished typing it. I have a memory of tearing it out of the spiral (since it had only a couple pages left in it) and trimming the tattered edge off. (I only buy the perforated page notebooks) After that, I’m not sure where it went. I must have gotten interrupted, and moved it off the desk before it was done. This will mean a file dive, but I’m not afraid, because I have a system – ish. I won’t say it’s foolproof, for I don’t label the pockets of the files. I tried doing this, but since things change around a lot, it becomes tiresome to keep fixing labels. Since the pages are marked, it’s just a matter of taking the time to look. I think I have a loose leaf notebook with the untyped stuff in it, but can’t confirm that with any accuracy, so we’ll table that…. I have, on occasion, tried that, only I manage to lose the notebooks under other stuff. (If you saw my office, you would understand. No, I shall not be posting pictures.)

As you can see from the picture, below, this is how my handwritten pages look. The date and title in the upper right corner, the big check mark further down. This is the story I work on at the doctor’s office. The full title is Tree Line Avengers, but the abbreviated title works just fine. If I’m writing a lot, I simply call it Tree. (Please excuse my penmanship.)

Treeline Avengers sample page 001

I used to number pages per writing date, for example: this page started a 15 page session. The next time I sat down to write, it was only 3. I numbered the pages with the date, numbering per writing session 1 – 15 and 1 – 3.

However, after I started a novel at my daughter’s in July, and continued hand writing until it was finished, I stopped doing that, and numbered consecutively. I’ve kept up with this practice. Overall, easier than the other method. That particular book, I wrote out longhand and transcribed. It took a really long time to type it all up, since it was over 200 pages hand written! Normally, I won’t do that, but the story seemed to pour forth, and I was afraid to stop the flow of narrative by typing out what I’d already written. Instead, I finished the story, then went back and typed it.

Since I type quickly, and can finish a novel in a matter of days, I rarely employ this method. It’s much slower, and transcribing plays hell with my vertigo. For this particular book, it worked, so I’m not complaining.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, because that’s so untrue. However, I have a few simple, inexpensive things, which I do to keep myself a little better organized. As I have more ideas, I shall add articles to my Chaos in a Teacup series.

Feel free to leave messages and tell me how you organize yourself. If my ideas work for you, please let me know!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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