Remember that old show? It was a novel, then a movie, then a TV series in the 70s about law school students, but I’m talking more literally.
As I write a manuscript, I print out the day’s writing and place it in a 3-ring binder. I also email the draft to both my accounts when I stop for lunch and when I’m done for the day. (Why, yes … yes I have lost work before. How did you know?)
When I’m completely done with the draft, I edit directly on the printout with a very sharp Ticonderoga #2. I type the changes into the computer, make it purty with the chapter headings at the top of the page and such, then email it to my husband to print a copy of the entire thing and drill it at our print shop.
I junk the one I scribbled all over and replace it in the binder with this shiny new one. The scribbled one goes into the fire pit when we have a backyard fire. Very cathartic, like offering all those words and images into the Universe.
The manuscript gets sent all over the place—to my beta readers, my editor, my Review Crew—and eventually it rises like a phoenix from my computer and becomes a book. Also very cathartic.
I keep that paper copy, research notes, outlines, and all the other paperwork that accumulates in my 3-ring binder that I then stick on a shelf. But when I finish one more book—which I’m more than halfway finished with right now—my designated shelf will be full.
It made me wonder what other authors did with all of their paperwork.
So I asked ‘em!
Here’s what some of the Chicks told me about their process.
The first photo is from when I tried to be organized with drafts and research. The second is after I gave up. Now I eventually recycle paper printouts once I’m done with a project and just keep online files.
I don’t print out my manuscripts. I guess it’s the “don’t waste the paper” angel on my shoulder that keeps me from printing it out, but then again, I’m so used to writing and editing on the computer (I did it for 20 years writing legal briefs and appeals), that I have no need for a hard copy. I save all my work in the cloud, via Dropbox and also emailing them to myself.
As for all my notes, hand-drawn calendars, saved articles, research materials, etc., I keep them in a manila folder in my file cabinet—one for each book.
I did print out hard copies of late-stage Ladies Smythe and Westin manuscripts, but I’m not sure they were the finals.
Because the books were digital-first, my publisher did everything super-electronically from the start. I know I copied some stuff onto flash drives and cloud, but the e-pub files could only be downloaded for a certain amount of time. Then they disappeared, like disappearing ink.
I usually print out manuscript pages to edit and then recycle those. For the final versions, I save them on my computer or in the cloud. I do, however, keep my tattered journals with notes and outlines and random passages.
Here’s my disorderly line-up!
The printed manuscripts I’ve used for editing are recycled when the book is done, though I keep every digital draft version and notes.
I print out hard copies to edit and proof. But I don’t save those. I have wadded up manuscript pages and used them as packing material in mailed packages. I save final manuscripts with notes from my editor on my computer/cloud.
Don’t you think it would be great fun to get a package from Vickie and see she’s stuffed it with wadded up pages from her manuscript? It would be like getting the inside scoop, or being privy to a secret. I also love it when people send me packages packed with wadded up newspaper pages. I smooth them out and read all their local news.
I really am a paper lover, if you couldn’t tell from that!
I find the processes by other writers absolutely fascinating, but it gives me sweaty palms just thinking about not having a paper copy of my work!
Did you like this peek behind the Magic Writer Curtain? What other writerly stuff are you curious about? What can we illuminate for you next?