Get Organized: Organizing Your Book’s Materials

111015-OrganizeForYourBookLast week I went over what you’ll need to be organizing for your book. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Ideas
  • Research
  • Notes
  • Drafts
  • “Other” materials

So now let’s dive into just HOW to organize your materials. The first decision you’ll have to make is physical versus digital. Now before you get all high and mighty and Declare (yes, with a capital D) that you’re going to use one or the other system, I have some news for you.

You’re going to use both.

Think about it…

You’re waiting to get your hair cut, flipping through a magazine. And you suddenly come across something that is the PERFECT idea for your book. What do you do? You make sure nobody’s looking and tear out the page!

Unless you’re me. If you’re me you just stuff the WHOLE magazine up your sleeve and casually walk out! Shhhh! Don’t tell!

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Or you’re idly scrolling through Facebook on when a quiz takes you to a Mashable takes you to the Best. Resource. Ever. What do you do? Copy the link (or the entire article) and save it to your computer. Or maybe you even PRINT it. Gasp!

111015-FoundAnideaYou find a great resource while browsing on your phone – and you email yourself the link. (Or post it to Facebook!)

You’re woken from a dead sleep with an OMG idea – scribble it down on a pad of paper then roll over.

You’re driving when inspiration hits – grab your phone and leave yourself a voice memo.

The bottom line is that you’ll have a mix of online and off-line materials for your book so you’d better come up with a way to organize it.

Organizing Physical Resources

Get a notebook
A single, designated notebook for all your ideas and brainstorms! That’s not to say you might not have seriously great materials written in your business journal or other places but from THIS moment forward – one notebook!

If you can, you’ll actually tape or staple other printed resources directly in there so it’s all in one place If not…

A file folder
One! You need ONE home for your magazine clippings, pre-notebook notes, stickies, notecards, etc.

I could get into even more detail about how to organize your paper beyond that, but for now, concentrate on having two places for your off-line materials; they’re either written in your project notebook OR safely in your project file folder.

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Organizing Digital Resources

Ahhh, this is where it gets tricky because everybody has a different way they like to find things on their computer. So here’s my #1 takeaway:

Have a SINGLE folder on your computer where you keep your digital files, including drafts of your writing.

If you move between your desk top and your laptop, consider having this folder’s location be in the cloud, aka Dropbox.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Google Docs; I find them hard to navigate. But I totally get the convenience of cloud-based storage AND the ability to write and edit documents all in one place. If you’re using Google Docs, same rule applies: ONE folder where everything lives.

While you can break it down into subfolders:

  • Research
  • Drafts
  • Weblinks
  • Etc

I find that I do best with ONE folder and a naming sequence.

Project Name – Document Name – Draft # (if draft makes sense)

So for my Book Idea Workbook, that looked something like:

  • Idea Book – Freewriting Notes
    Idea Book – Book – Draft 3
    Idea Book – Websites to think about (I typically copy-paste the ENTIRE article and grab the link. Just in case!)
    Idea Book – How to record in Audacity link

Boom! It’s all in ONE location and I can see quickly what project it is and what the document contains.

There are a million and one digital resources for organizing your thoughts. The bottom line is that it needs to be SIMPLE and organized!

There are times to keep it as simple as possible. THIS is one of those times. I really recommend AGAINST having a Google folder, AND a folder on your computer’s hard drive, AND a note in Evernote, AND a series of bookmarks in your browser, AND…

See the point?

All the pre-work you’re doing on your book does you no good if you can’t easily find and USE that information!

Keep It Simple Sweetie!

And my biggest tip for organizing your digital files is to give your project a working name. “Book” isn’t going to cut it! Just something where you can glance at it and it triggers YOU to know what you’re looking at. That way you know that anything called “idea book’ goes with THAT project.

Kim Galloway
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