Monday, April 11, 2016

Processing Your Writing: Organizing Free Writing

Is there a way to automate (!) or organize free writing into system that allows the writer to focus entirely on writing instead of organization itself? I'm currently at the Millay Colony Residency, and given that I spent the last 4 days addressing this problem, I figured I'd share the system I designed. Two of the programs, PoemTag and ShortcutFixer, I programmed myself. The last program, Robobasket 3, is available online. If there's any interest, I'll release my programs, but I feel as though I may be uniquely obsessed with process in this way.

So on to it: I free write every day. Some of those "poems" are destined only to be exercises, and some I am taken by and want to pursue later. So after I free write a poem and save it into my big "Poem" folder, I click the start menu and run PoemTag, which automatically detects which file was just saved:

I rate the poem in how confident I am with its worth from 0 (the default) to 20. By clicking okay, PoemTag creates a shortcut to this file in my edit folder, and appends exclamations to the filename to reflect its importance. So if I think asterism is a 3, it will save a shortcut called !!!Asterism - Shortcut.

This way, I have a folder that only has shortcuts to the poems I think I want to edit later.

Where Robobasket 3 comes in: I have this program set up to run in the background. When these shortcuts reach a certain ripeness (1 month? 3 months? I can change it at will), they will automatically be moved to wherever I want. Say, the desktop. Now I can't avoid seeing those files.

This way, I can forget about all the poems I've written until enough time has passed that I can give them fresh eyes.

This system does not involve any of the actual poetry files. Those are safely wherever they were saved.

Finally, if I ever decide to move the original files that my shortcut system links to, I have designed Shortcut Fixer. This program takes shortcuts that can no longer figure out where a file is located and locates the file, thus fixing the broken link.

This way, I can move the actual poem files anywhere I want--for instance, if I want to move all the free writing I've been doing to a 2016 folder.

That all sounds more complicated than it is. Essentially, after I free write and save, PoemTag pops up, I tell it a number, and everything is handled automatically.

For those of us who write so wildly that we cannot be trusted to organize anything on our own...