Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writing - My 6 Step File Management Plan

The last time my writing group met, someone asked me about my file management process.  After a brief chat, that individual looked at me horrified, aghast at my multi-leveled, redundant system, but I'm not going to change.  I'm okay with my paranoia.  ;)

I also have a huge box of old CDs and DVDs.
Image: © Carloscastilla |
Some people say they would grab their photos if ever faced with a fire.  Not me.  For years, I would have grabbed my computer or, rather, the stories I've written.  Thankfully, I now have a new system, so I can skip over the computer and go for something else, like the photos - wait a minute, I back up my photos the same way I do my writing files, so what would I grab? Shoes?

I used to email copies of my word files to myself, so I had a copy of my work in case something dastardly happened to my computer, but I wasn't very good at remembering to do that regularly and I'd also end up with heaps of emails clogging my email account.  My new approach eliminates those problems.

My 6 Step File Management Plan
  1. When I start a new story, I create a new folder inside my "Writing" folder.  The name of this new folder is usually my characters' names.
  2. Then, I save every word file in that folder with the name of the project (usually the characters' names again) and the date.  Occasionally I'll also include something specific if applicable, like "outline" or something like that. 
  3. Then, each day I work on that file, I start by doing a "save as" with the new date. Yes, this means I have a lot of files, but it also means that I have a lot of back ups if suddenly my file becomes corrupt or I accidently delete a section I really like or whatever.   This is based on the method of file management we do at my day job.
  4. When the number of files becomes too onerous to sort through or when I get to the end of the project, I will create a new sub-folder called "Obsolete."  I move my older files into this folder.  I never delete anything.  Again, this is inspired by what we do at my day job.
  5. Then, I have my folders so they automatically back up to the "cloud."  Every file in the folder, including each new one I create, is automatically backed up without me having to do anything.  I've heard of people using SugarSync and DropBox, but I expect there are a lot of other similar resources.  Make sure you check them out and that you are comfortable with them before uploading anything.  Also, depending on the size of your files, some cloud storage sites are free.  I have also chosen to back up photos, which can be quite large, so I pay for a larger account.
  6. Then, about once a month, I back-up my computer files onto an external hard drive. 
Voila!  There is my system.

Do you share my paranoia?  Do you have any other tips or tricks to manage your files? 


Anonymous said...

You have me thinking I need to back-up to a cloud, Lorraine. I always been nervous about doing that with my stories but I do it for other things.

Like you, I have a specific writing folder, with each novel as a sub-folder. I used to name the folders with the characters' names (I thought I was the only one who did that, LOL!), but a while ago I switched them over to book title. When I don't have a book title, the folder normally says something brilliantly original like "New WIP" :) As I only ever work on one project at a time, I only ever have one "New WIP" folder at a time.

I like your system of file back-ups with date. I do that with edits I exchange with my publisher but when I'm working on a project, I resave the new draft over the old. So far it's not been problematic for me, but it makes sense to keep the older drafts. I save everything to my computer and back up to a flash drive that is constantly in my possession.

BTW, I love all the writing posts you've been doing! :)

sue said...

I do some of your method and some of Mae’s. I have folders for my writing story by story. I do not keep older versions usually, sometimes to my chagrin, but I may keep e.g. draft, draft2, final1, final 2, so I guess I do, and I back up the whole computer on a flash drive every Sunday. So I would grab not the computer but the drives (which I keep all together in a small case)

patonlorraine said...

Aw, thanks, Mae! It has been fun to write about writing. :)

Mae, I love the cloud back up. A bonus of that is that I can access and edit my files on my phone or another computer with internet access. And, if I wanted I can share specific files with other people too.

As for using my WIP title, I'm horrible at titling things. I think for one m/s I'm up to 4 tentative titles so far. ;)

And, yes, I used to save over all my files / burn them to CD / DVD when we went on holiday without my computer. LOL.

patonlorraine said...

Interesting... I may have to get a flash drive. :) Sounds like I should add that to my file management repertoire... ;)