How I Keep Track of Multiple WIPs - Part 1

2:40 PM

Has it seriously been a month since I last posted?

*shifty eyes* Whoops *guilty face*

Hmm. Lets see if we can remedy that.

Now what have I writing about recently....

*mumbling* Tag...linkup...tag...tag...update....update...tag....updates....*lapses into silence*

I think that it's high time for a "real" blog post, don't you?

At the end of my last couple of posts, a few people asked me: how in the world do I manage to keep track of 8 Works in Progress?

Honestly, I have wondered the same thing some days....because it feels like I'm a mom with 8 kids or something. Even though I know each story in and out down the the last quirk in my mind, the belongings to each of those "kids" are being scattered all over the Internet. No wonder everyone is getting so confused! 

So...I'm going to try (note the word, TRY) to explain this little quirk of my ever complicated, unconventional, and very rebellious Muse. And it looks like it will be in two parts instead of just one....

Are you all ready?

Then please buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!

(and PLEASE don't feed the animals on the way. I had a rather rough time keeping them in their corrals this morning....LOL.) 

 My Style of Organization (or Lack Thereof)

Being of a melancholic temperament (or if you prefer the MBTI code, INFJ), I live on organization. Depending on the "thing" that I'm organizing, it is not unusual for me to have sub-folders of sub-folders of sub-folders. I tend to hyper-organize documents the most - literally, no one can find things in my jump drive. LOL. 

Being hyper-organized is probably the most obvious trick in the book for keeping track of more than one WIP, but I cannot stress how important this is. To coin a phrase, disorganized notes equals a disorganized book. Not to mention one stressed out author. (Unless said author thrives on chaos.) 

Now that I've said that, I will proceed to destroy that idealized picture that I've placed in everyone's heads....and show how I REALLY organize this mess.   

Each of my WIPs has it's own:

Shaxpir File and Notebook
Word Folder - containing various related files, and backups of the Shaxpir files.
Spotify Playlist - centered around a main musical influence.
Pinterest Board
Image Folder on my Computer - all those blog post aesthetics, and avatars.
Note App File on my phone
Section in my Trapper Keeper - which will be explained in a minute.

This list does not include the materials that are in physical notebooks, on Google Docs, Blogger, YouTube or on my Kindle for any specific WIP. 

Right now, I'm in the process of streamlining my method of organization in an effort to keep everything on the same page when writing. Which, to be frankly honest, has been easier said than done. For those who followed my Camp NaNo project this past July, and were wondering why I even attempted such a monstrosity in the first place, this may explain a few things...... 

So now, I'm going to explain how I'm organizing all my story materials at the moment, and then I'll show the potential post-consolidation system. 

To start off, all of my physical notebooks are kept in a huge blue binder: 

Told you it was huge :). 
Every note is labeled with what WIP it's for, but there are no specific notebooks for any one WIP (as far as I know). Yes, it is a very helter-skelter system. But isn't EVERYTHING I do seem to be helter-skelter?

In actuality, most of the notebooks that are in this binder contain research notes, and old childish stories that I created in middle/high school. 

A lot of my notes aren't even in a book, but on random pieces of paper! I am one of those people who has to strike when the inspiration is hot. Which means, that I have to get down the idea as fast as possible, using whatever I can find. Otherwise, it flits away and I never remember it again. 

Therefore, a lot of random things get used to write notes down on....and they all have to be kept together somehow. 

Enter, the Trapper Keeper. 

It's basically another binder, with special dividers
Each WIP is separated by a color divider, and all the pieces of paper are collected into 1-3 sheet protectors. The number of sheet protectors is determined by the number of paper scraps that I can stuff in there.

The other place that I've been placing a lot of my notes is on the Note App on my smartphone. It is an Android app that can back up to Google Drive, which is really great for potential consolidation later. I like this app better than my original Notepad app, but there is still some glitches that drive me crazy.   

This Note app is really great for when I'm away from home and can't take a notebook with me. Everything from little character quirks to major plot points can be quickly jotted down, and then looked at later.

As you can see, materials for my WIPs could potentially be found in up to 11 different places! That is a lot of windows to keep open. This is a perfect recipe for writer burnout as well as the dreaded plot-hole plague.

Hence the absolute NEED for a One-Stop-Shop. One that would house all the notes, all the manuscript, and even some of the media.

Enter Shaxpir.

I know that I've mentioned this program at least a dozen times, and have teased about a review of the software for the future. (I'm working on it...I promise....) 

Shaxpir is in the same league as Scrivener, but it's not really the same. To put it simply, it's a word processor that has a built-in Notebook, so all the notes and manuscript are in one spot. Great for flipping back and forth when writing.

Now, I'm using the free version, so I can only write with it. But if I pay money towards it, I could use it to create an e-book file of my book, as well as other cool options.

So, you remember that list I had at the beginning? Once all the notes are consolidated, the list will look more like this:

Shaxpir File and Notebook
Word Folder - containing various related files, and backups of the Shaxpir files.
Spotify Playlist - centered around a main musical influence.
Pinterest Board

Google Docs will still be used for Alpha/Beta readers, and the Image folders will also remain and used as a storage/backup place. Once backups are made of the rest, they will be erased or stored away for conveniences' sake. I'm also going to working towards all digital notes instead of the half and half digital and hard copy system (with the occasional notebook for offline writing).

Even though I can't consolidate everything WIP-related into one program, reducing the windows will help the psyche tremendously.

*looks up at this monstrous ramble*

Maybe I should have waited to attempt to make this post until AFTER I finished my Note Consolidation project....*sigh*

In the next part, I'll (attempt) to show how my aesthetics and themes also help me keep my WIPs straight!

Did I lose anyone in that mess? (I'll be happy to clarify anything!) Has this helped to explain things, or has it totally convinced you that I've lost my mind entirely? Have you got any strategies that could help me simplify this mess? Chat with me in the comments! 

Scribbingly yours,


P.S. Some of you already know this, but I've recently dropped from full-time (50 hours a week) to part time (30 hours a week) at my job. Once I finish catching up on sleep and things outside of blogging, I hope to be off my comment hiatus entirely (which will be wonderful since I really miss chatting with y'all!)

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  1. First off, congrats on becoming part-time! (I’m assuming you think that’s a good thing. If not . . . sorry?)

    Second off, THIS POST IS ENLIGHTENING. Not even kidding. I struggle LOADS with keeping all my stuff together. My Google Drive folders . . . heh, heh. They’re a disaster zone. I’ve never heard of Shaxpir, but I checked, and there’s no app for it. :( Dang. But there is a Scrivener app! . . . that costs, like, $19. Not cheap.

    Maybe I’ll just stick to Google Docs and paper. Or, who knows, maybe I’ll figure out my own method.

    Anyways, if you stuck through this rambling comment, welcome back, and great post!

  2. I'm in awe of how you do this, wow! :O

  3. Me: I /love/ being organized!! *proceeds to gather all my stuff in similar ways that you list*
    Me, two days later: I CANT FIND ANYTHING *moves everything around again*

    I try to be organized, but honestly, the less clicking around, the better. I get tired of sub-sub-sub-sub-folders, when it gets right down to it. It's fun seeing everything so neatly gathered for a few days, but then I hate it...

    1. It's funny how I am about messes. I don't want to SEE it. So as long as I step into my room and the floor is clean, the bed is made, and everything /looks/ clean, I don't care what's stuffed into the closest, in the drawers, and under the bed. XD

    2. Also, I just looked into Shaxpir...anything you think I should know about it? Does it work offline (cause I don't have internet at home)? How highly would you recommend it?

  4. Oh my gosh, Shaxpir sounds awesome! And I'm right with you - both on the having a lot of projects and getting the 'Is she insane?' look for it. ;P Haha, but I beat you - I've got thirteen projects if you count a musical and two operas. However. Perhaps because of this, none of them sound nearly so put together (or have as cool of covers) as yours always do. You really should start posting one of your stories, at least a chapter every so often, because I would love to read them, and there are so few devoted Catholic writers (who are traditional!) out there!

  5. Ooh, cool tips Catherine!!! Some of these could also work for other things than my WIPS!!! :-D *takes lots of notes*
    Btw, when do we get to read stuff??? ;-) ;-) ;-)

  6. Oh my gosh, I`ve been needing this!! My WIP`s are sooo scattered and such a mess!! I really need to try and get everything for each one in one place. Thanks for the helpful tips! Can`t wait for the next post!

  7. This was fun! I'm an INFJ, too, and I totally relate to the need for organization.

  8. Wow! You are so organized with your writing. I've made a timeline for my fantasy books and my future sci-fi books because the fantasy ones all link up and the sci-fi ones link up. It's not confusing to me, but it's helpful to remember everyone's ages. :D

  9. I don't think I could keep track of that many things at once. I have a hard enough time with doing two or three at once. But like you, I am super organized, so this post makes me happy.

  10. Phew! Enjoy that drop from 50 to 30 hours! I honestly don't know how you did that...

    I'm impressed with your organizational skills--all my stories are so hopelessly helter-skelter it's quite sad. :( Shaxpir sounds cool, I might have to look into it.

  11. I like your way of keeping track of all your WIPS. I use the image folder idea too (just in the app Photos and not a folder) and I love using my writing notebook to write down new ideas. This is such a cool post, Catherine. :)

  12. Dude, this is an awesome system! I'm so impressed!

    Elissa //


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