Jack of Many Trades

Procrastination by Organization

Originally posted: 2012-08-24

Today I am putting off writing by organizing all the the things. Or at least all the writing things.

I've been using Evernote as a general organization software for years now. (I have notes going all the way back to early 2008.) Up until about six months ago, I was using it as a more general sort of storage, holding articles from the web I didn't want to lose, notes to myself, and similar things. Meanwhile I was storing all my fiction writing in text files that I kept synced via Dropbox. I wrote on the go using an iPhone app that let me write files directly into Dropbox, and all was well.

Earlier this year, though, I switched from iOS to Android. I had trouble finding a piece of software that I liked as much, while I discovered that Evernote seemed to be much more user-friendly on my slightly larger Android screen than it had been on iOS. I started taking notes down in Evernote instead and moving them to text files when I was on my computer.

As you can imagine, this got cumbersome, and I am an inherently lazy person. Since then, I've fallen more and more into using Evernote as my writing program of choice, to the point where I generally choose to write directly into it even when I'm on my home computer.

My organization system, however, was still a mess. Today I decided to do something about it.

Yesterday, I had one general "review" folder that had started out as a GTD-style inbox for everything going into Evernote, where I would process and file things away. In practice, it turned into a place where all my active WIPs were stored. After a while, this became cumbersome, especially when I was having to stop and think too much about when to move them out of that folder, and where to move them to.

Instead of one general Lost the Sky folder, now I have an in progress folder specifically for Lost the Sky, one for posted pieces, one for things I've jossed/rewritten but am not going to delete entirely, and one for notes and research. Yes, that's four folders in one stack. But it's four well-labelled folders that I don't have to stop and analyze before filing.

I made similar folders for In Medias Res, since that has the second-most notes, though that one doesn't have anything that's been jossed. I haven't decided whether Epsilon or Forgotten City warrant that yet; I'll decide later when I move on to step two, since I didn't have anything active to file for them.

Step two, by the way, is to go through my "misc writing" folder on my computer and basically MOVE ALL THE THINGS into Evernote. This is not going to be a quick project - it'll probably be most of my evening, and maybe tomorrow as well. I know I have a lot of duplicates hanging around in there, either in different folders or under slightly different file names.

This is a lot of material - I still have a few of my oldest stories, some of which are so old their file names are ALLCAPS.TXT because I originally wrote them in a DOS-based editor. Some of them will get flagged as retired. There may be some stuff I think deserves to be posted; if that's the case I'll queue it up here and you guys will get to enjoy it. Or laugh at it, as the case may be.

Anyway, all of that is to say that Evernote is awesome, and if you haven't tried it before, you should totally check it out for your organizing needs.

And also I should be writing.