Jan Cline continues our archaeology dig!
Now that you have returned from your research expedition, it’s time to do something with all that junk, uh, great stuff you gathered. I love researching, but I have always struggled with the task of organization. I learned by experience that it’s important to have a system of cataloging, storing and sorting for my treasures of memorabilia, facts and photos.
File cabinets are not the only way to store your information – we all know that. But what other ways can we tuck away those tidbits of data? If you’re like me, you will want to use a variety of methods. If you’re not like me, well, you’re probably more organized!
If you do use strictly file storage, mark it well and make sure that you regularly rifle through everything to keep it up to date, sorted and cross-referenced. And for goodness sake, throw out all that information that is obsolete. The fast paced information highway keeps data vulnerable to extinction, so turn on your shredder and start feeding it.
If you use your computer to file and store I will state the obvious, but often neglected mantra: BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP! It’s great to use the luxuries of scanning, emailing, and file sharing, but take it from me, you’ll want to jump off a bridge if your computer goes belly up and takes your unsaved files with it.
Card files, notebooks, and rolodexes are still good ways to catalog information—especially for things like contact names and email addresses, publisher information, keeping track of future projects, etc. My practice of collecting brochures, pamphlets and maps led me to purchase a small plastic file to hold them. Photos are not used by everyone, but I keep a space in this file for ones I want to reference. The rest I scrapbook, but that’s a whole other post.
No matter which method of cataloging and storage you prefer, keep it close. Out of sight, out of mind was a phrase invented by a writer, I’m sure of it.
I’m sure most of you reading this post have already fine-tuned your research and organization skills. But for those of you like me who had to learn the hard way the value of this discipline, perhaps this will make your life a little easier.
Jan will be teaching a workshop on Author Archaeology 101 at Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference. Jan Cline is a freelance writer, speaker, singer and aspiring author from Spokane, Washington. She has had numerous articles and short stories published, and in 2008 wrote, performed and produced a lullaby CD. She is currently seeking publication for her first novel and near completion of her second. Jan has been a member of NW Christian Writers since August, 2010.