Piles and piles of paper. Folder after folder. Files full of documents on my hard drive. This is what I see when i sit down to work every day. Sometimes it makes my chest hurt.

But last night in the Twitter Writer’s Chat, we discussed how to organize our projects, and Eric Wyatt gave some good advice (for more on his organizational system, see this great post. First, he suggested using a separate hard-copy file for each story, essay, chapter or poem. I had been doing that, sort of, but just having him suggest a collapsible folder to store each in . . . well, that made me excited to get organizing.

We also discussed how to organize our electronic files. Eric uses Scrivener to organize his writing. I haven’t looked much into it, but I will. . . I need some way to get my writing files in order so that I don’t lose a half-hour looking for that piece I wrote that mentioned that thing, you know the one.

Lest you think Eric only can manage files in house, let me say that he also uses a system to track submissions — Duotrope.(Alas, it’s geared toward only fiction writers and poets, so it’s not great for me.) His comment made me think I needed to be more diligent about tracking what I write, where I send it, and when (if?) it gets published. I have a spreadsheet that does this, but I quit updating it a while back . . . I need to get back to that.

Finally, we talked about backing-up files. We all know the groan of the hard-drive crashing, but how many of us are really careful to be sure we don’t lose our words. Well, Eric is – triply careful. He uses an external hard drive to back-up his computer as well as Dropbox; I just signed up for my 2 free GB so that I can save my work there, too. This is my livelihood, after all.

All of this talking about organization has me thinking about file name protocols and buying a bigger filing cabinet. I think this means a visit to the office supply store. Can you see my grin from there?

What systems do you use for organizing your print and hard-copy files? For tracking your submissions?