Thursday, March 27, 2008

Johnson's System Helps Writers Organize and Prioritize

"Use electronic folders liberally," Jean recommends, "and don't keep hard copies." While working in the advertising industry, Jean developed a simple and effective three-step system to stay on top of all her writing projects. This evening she shared her three secrets that can help all writers improve their productivity.

Jean Johnson IMG_2947 - Cropped

Lavada Haupt & Jean Johnson

Jean tells writers to:

  1. Use folders liberally
  2. Use Excel as a giant notepad
  3. Back up often!

Use folders liberally

Have you ever wasted time looking for a chapter or an article that you wrote? If you apply Jean's system for managing your file folders, you can spend more time writing and less time searching for what you wrote.  Computer file manager programs display your file folders and file names alphabetically. Jean recommends that you use numbers before folder and file names  so that you can prioritize your projects like this:

+ 01  My novel

+ 02  My church essay

+ 03  My Rendell study

+04  Future Projects

+05  Past work

Use a two-digit format in case your list goes beyond ten and use the same directory line-up for your web Favorites to capture related web links and references. Renumber your folders as your priorities change. 

So let's assume that you're ready to start you work day on your top priority, your novel. So you click into the 01 My Novel folder where you see your progress:

+ 01  My novel

-00 Novel groundwork

- Chapter 01  Done

- Chapter 02  Done

- Chapter 03

          Chapter 03 Storyboard.xls

          Chapter 03 Text.doc

You left off on chapter 3, so you can begin working on chapter 4 or you can continue working on chapter 3 until it's complete. Jean stores a text file and an Excel storyboard for each chapter.

Use Excel as a Giant Notepad

Jean uses Excel's powerful color and drawing tools to map her stories and characters. She turns off the grid lines and then brings her story to life using colors, text boxes and connector lines. Excel provides thousands of rows and columns, enough for you to plot out the details of just about any story.

Back up Often

Don't count on your computer to start up the next time you're ready to work. Every computer will fail eventually--it's just a question of when. Be sure to back up your files regularly on a hard disk, a CD and/or on flash drives (a.k.a. pen drives or thumb drives). You can also back up your files by posting them on a web site. If you lose your data, it's your own fault!

Total Attendees at today's meeting:  7

Total current members: 11

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