Organizing your writing projects

I used Word to write The Brevity of Roses. I already had a Documents folder labeled Writing with a sub-folder labeled Short Stories. That’s where I saved the story To Be Missed, which is what later became the novel. As the “story” grew, so did the files associated with it, eventually I moved all of them out of the story folder into their own sub-folder within my Novels folder.

Very soon, the Brevity folder spawned sub-folders, some of which spawned their own sub-folders. At that point, it took a bit of effort to navigate the maze to find any particular “notes” or “scenes” or “character” files I needed. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Then, I heard about free writing organization software and tried a couple of them. For one reason or another, I didn’t feel they worked for me.  Now, I’m trying Scrivener for Windows beta. (The Mac version has been around for ages.)

The program is more functional for me as well as more intuitive. For me, it’s a big time saver. My book text, scenes file, character sketches, notes of every kind, even reference photos and videos are all in one file. Click.

That’s not to say I’m a whiz at Scrivener for Windows. I’m still learning. Since it’s a beta version, each new update adds functionality, so it’s even better than when I first tried it last fall. I’m saving my pennies to buy the full version because I believe Scrivener is my answer to organizing each writing project.

Let’s discuss how to organize writing projects. Do you use writing software? Are you so well-organized in your word processing program that’s all you need? Do you click back and forth between an organizer and a word-processor?

25 thoughts on “Organizing your writing projects”

  1. I like Pages better than Word and generally use that for writing, but I organize my writing by folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders. Any more levels of folders and I get lost. I’ve tried Scrivener, but it doesn’t seem to add anything for me.
    Of course, the most important thing is – EVERYTHING gets stored in Dropbox or Mediafire. (I say that – but I don’t always do it every day as I should!)


    1. I’d never heard of Pages, Natasha, but now that I know it’s not a Windows app, I can forget about it. 😉 I agree about the importance of saving to Dropbox, or other online storage, though. I used to just save my files to Dropbox — when I remembered to. But now I open and work on them from Dropbox, so they’re automatically saved there. I have to remember to save them on my memory stick and hard drive now. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I use Microsoft Word. I tried the beta version of Scrivener after NaNoWriMo, but it was too buggy for my liking. I haven’t touched it since. I’m sure they’ve fixed a lot of the problems in the past 6 months, but I KNOW Microsoft Word and new technology and I tend to hate each other. 😦

    I set up a file for my story, and in that file I have about ten other file folders for things such as my rough draft, research, a “crap file” for all the cuts I’ve made, background info, family trees, and of course my file where my working draft lives. In that file, I’ve broken up my story into separate chapters for my own sanity. It’s organgized enough for me, a file within a file within a file. LOL Of course the stray notebooks and journals are another matter! I’ve lost count how many of those I’ve filled up.


    1. Thanks for sharing your method, Juli.

      I guess I work in an odd manner … with several files open at once … so Scrivener is just simpler for me. Gee, they should give me a free copy for all this promotion I’m doing. 🙂


  3. So, Linda, you know that I use yWriter at times. I also use Word, Notepad, Excel (for tracking), Duotrope (for backup submission tracking), paper notebooks, scratch paper, physical and electronic file folders, and binders.

    Uhh, let’s see… Each short story has at least one physical folder and an electronic folder. Each novel-in-progress has a binder, a physical folder (for outdated material), and an electronic folder with sub-folders. I also have folders for submissions correspondence, writing references, story ideas, critiques given, templates, and writing exercises.

    I imagine that people who work on only one or two projects at a time use fewer or simpler organizational tools. I’m not really one of those people.


    1. Thanks for sharing your method, Ann. Yes, yWriter is the program I tried, but I think you told me the newer versions improved. I used Duotrope when I was submitting short stories, it’s great for keeping track of those. With all the programs and folders you have, I suspect you are far more organized than I am. 😉


  4. Linda, I cringe when I think of my file system. Oh boy….

    Needless to say, I don’t use a software system, really, for organizing, but I’ve heard of Scrivener. I’ll have to check it out. I’m always a little leery of using a program like that to keep my drafts/chapters, etc in some semblance of order, but I also worry about losing track of important files.


      1. Linda,

        Honestly, those feelings come more from fear of the unknown. That, and a sense that something other than me would be at the wheel of control. Both reasons are probably illogical 🙂

        Love the new look of the blog, by the way!


        1. Well, the way I look at Scrivener is it’s one of those accordian file folders with dividers built in, so all your files are organized, but together in one big folder. The way Word works for me is like a big file cabinet with individual folders and folders within those folders and papers stuffed everywhere. The accordian folder is easy for me to manage. It’s less overwhelming for me. But less messy people than I could manage a whole room full of file cabinets. 😉

          Btw, I sort of had the feeling you might think Scrivener is one of those programs that “writes” for you. It’s not.


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