PAPER OR PLASTIC (WHERE THE COMPUTER IS THE PLASTIC)?


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I’ve tried to put everything on the computer. Names and addresses of everyone I know. All the financial info. A calendar. Photographs. A map program that uses GPS. The family tree. And that’s just the personal stuff. For my writing, everything original I write, of course, now gets written on my laptop. But also the trackers and market lists, notes about each novel or story, writing advice, quotes, and so on.

When we lived in the small space of a forty-foot motorhome all the time, this is a great idea. Now that we’re back in a brick and stick house, I still think it’s a great idea.

But I write a lot of short stories, and submitting them is much work in itself.

I found out tables are my friends.
Wooden Table by Anonymous - A wooden table by Benji Park. From old OCAL site.

No, not that kind of table.

I used to have:

A notebook in which I put:

  • A table to track everything I submitted with title, where submitted, date submitted, date back, and a yes/no column for whether accepted or rejected. This was kept in the front of the notebook.
  • Behind that, a table for each publication and what I’d sent to them when, and how long it took to hear back.

A manila file folder for each story in which I had:

  • A table to track date, where sent and response for the front of the file.
  • Correspondence and contract(s) for the story.
  • A clean printed copy of the story.

All these trackers, the manuscript and notes for it were put onto my laptop after a awhile. And there they still sit. It took quite a long time for me to get used to using the ones on the computer.

Today I was checking out some markets. I have about twenty stories at any given time that need to be submitted. So of course I’m always looking for new places for my work. I have in mind one place to submit to this week (my goal is one sub a week), but when going through my list, I found two other places where a couple of stories might fit. How to keep track of those? Used to be I could just jot a note and stick it in the physical file. So, I made up a notes form (yes, another form) for each story. It now contains the submission table at the top, and other notes about the story, plus I can list possible markets I come across to submit to if it’s rejected. And I just stick any other info about the story into this notes file. Which is called [Title of Story] notes.docx. I use caps for the title of the story file and the notes file name in small letters.

Often, I find the submission guidelines on-line and need to keep them someplace. Easiest thing in the world is to bookmark them, right? Yes, except you wouldn’t believe how many bookmarks I have. I was putting these new ones at the top, and important ones got pushed farther and farther down, and I had a jumble.

I hate jumbles. So eventually I made yet another table to keep the names of all these wonderful publications with a direct URL link to their submission guidelines. I also have a column for word count so I don’t have to look that up each time. And to make it easier on myself, later I added a column to put in the title of my latest submission.

Another trick I tried was to have a document in my computer labeled Notes. This is where I type in random ideas and thoughts plus URLs to go to when I have time. I guess I should have one of these documents for writing, too. The trouble is, I tried this idea several years ago, stopped using it and have never gone back to see what’s there. So I ended up still using a small legal pad to jot down things that catch my attention.

Yes, paper can get lost on the a real desktop. But ideas and jottings can get lost on that virtual desktop, too. This is as close as I can come to a pretty good system.

Someday I’ll find the perfect system. You think?


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2 thoughts on “PAPER OR PLASTIC (WHERE THE COMPUTER IS THE PLASTIC)?

  1. I use a color-coded spreadsheet. It has the title of the story, where sent, whether it was a snail mail or e-sub (although, thinking about it, I may take that column out, because who cares? There’s only one snail mail market left), date sent, date responded, accepted or rejected, when published, etc. I think I’ve shown it to you before.

    This may get unwieldy when I end up with stories in the hundreds, but at this point I have less than 30, so it works for now.

    I also have a physical file for each story with paper stuff–which is on my to-do list for organizing better. If I was smarter, I’d be printing out the email responses and filing those as well, rather than just keeping them in gmail. I should just start buying ink in wholesale lots…
    Julie recently posted..Well, that was a fast rejection.My Profile

  2. Oh, yes, it gets more and more difficult to handle the more you have. With over 50 published and about 20 I need to be marketing, this was the best system I could come up with. Spreadsheets can get huge. Smaller chunks work best for me. But I do keep responses in my email program now, too. I have a folder there for each short story. Never printed them out because I no longer keep paper files for each story. Thanks for commenting!
    Jan Christensen recently posted..PAPER OR PLASTIC (WHERE THE COMPUTER IS THE PLASTIC)?My Profile

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