This month, I have descended into a project I’d put off for at least four years (if not longer): filing. Yes, writers need to keep all sorts of files which requires a certain level of organization. Filing occupies the business side of the writer’s life, along with marketing, sales, office equipment and supplies, taxes, etc. All these things must have files also. Over the years, I’ve added files for computer, work calendar, planning, and editor (for my writing), publishers, agents, and online networking.
The files overflowed my two, two-drawer file cabinets long ago and I put them in storage boxes and in storage. The plan was to clean out my cabinets each year, store those files I needed to keep and throw the others away. Nice plan, but I failed miserably at following it. I kept everything. Files filled with interesting articles to spark ideas for stories, files filled with articles about writers, musicians, different countries that interested me, files of writing reference articles, and so on. It occurred to me late last year that all those files in my storage unit were not being used in any way, and I could probably throw out a lot of them.
Thus began this filing project. I’ve hauled one storage file box after another up four flights of stairs, acquiring sore muscles along the way, and went through each box. I have filled nine garbage bags with outdated and unwanted articles, writing, references, etc. I finished the last two boxes this morning. Now I have stacks of files in my kitchen.
I’ve catalogued them, and the next step is to organize them into stacks according to the categories I’ve established. Then I’ll fill the storage file boxes back up with the organized files and take them back down to my storage unit. But this time, I’ll type up a list of the files by storage box number so I’ll know exactly what I have in each box. After each file, I’ll note a discard date also. Some files will need to be kept longer than others. But I’m determined to not allow myself to be in the same position with files that I was in before this project.
Writers need to save anything involved with money — expenditures related to taxes such as home office equipment, royalty statements, contracts, etc. For each story, novel, essay or screenplay, they also need to save enough of their drafts and work on them to prove authorship (if it ever becomes necessary). Keeping a detailed work calendar as well as a written strategic plan prove that a writer is working rather than pursuing a hobby. I found the files I kept while I was a freelance copywriter and was quite impressed with how organized and thorough I was with keeping track of contracts, invoices, payments, and projects.
Next week, I plan to finish this filing project (and reclaim my kitchen for more food-related matters) by returning the file boxes to storage and organizing my five file storage boxes full of the files for the Perceval series of novels. I cleaned out my file cabinets before I began the storage boxes, so they’re in good shape. I just need to find a place for my job search files (which, I swear, propagate when my back is turned).
Getting organized clears the mind for more creative projects such as actual writing….