tidying up?

Hi folks - can anyone help me with the best way to tidy up in Scrivener. I am working on something and have hundreds of drafts and fragments and notes. truthfully all I really want to keep in an otherwise clear document is my chapter outlines. I have got so confused by multiple versions of things (snapshots seem to have stopped snapping which has made things worse - posting in the tech forum for that), that I have gone back to saving individual word documents in a new folder on the desktop to keep track. I want to get back to working in Scrivener but its a bloody mess. I don;t actualy want to lose the other versions, just tidy them up somewhere, its becoming a behemoth and I’ve only written the first three chapters and done the outlines for the rest. It’s a monster…help!

Any easy fixes, ideas on organisation… anything. Your ideas and experience would be most welcome.


…jeeeez!! I`m getting withdrawal symptoms just reading that!!! :open_mouth:

Help him somebody quick!! :cry:

In this situation I would normally rip it up and start again.

But I’m guessing that’s not an option?

Sounds like you need to create some order in your Binder. Here’s a suggested method:

Create folders within your Binder (you are aware you can create subfolders within the Draft and Research folders, right? Serious question, I’m not mocking) and assign each one a category and/or draft number. So you might have “Rough Ideas”, “First Draft”, “Character notes”, etc.

I’d advise you to move everything that isn’t an actual, honest to god version of the draft text into the Research folder (you can have subfolders within that, too). Leave the Draft folder for nothing but the draft. It’s often hard enough just to keep track of all the different versions of your text proper (as it sounds like you know) without having to try and filter out all the notes and support materials you’ve accumulated. (This is why Scriv’s Research folder rocks so hard.)

Then start moving all your Scrivenings (ie documents) into those folders. If you find something that doesn’t fit neatly into any of the folder categories, create a new folder for it. If you aren’t sure what order things should be in, you can find the ‘last modified’ date of any document in the Inspector pane.

Order it all, within the category folders, according to date. If this is a problem that’s likely to occur again in the future, I also suggest you start each new document with a date stamp - literally just type out the date at the top of every new document when you start writing it, and if you feel the need, date each modification to that document as well.

Put some time aside for this process. Do not stop halfway through to carry on writing. See it right through until every document has a ‘home’, because once you pause to work on the actual text, you will lose momentum and likely never get round to finishing it.

By the end of all this you should have a (big) bunch of folders with category titles that make sense to you, each containing the relevant documents to that category, and ordered within the folders by date. The point is that there will be many less folders than there were documents, and it should be easier for you to get an overview and position them within the Binder so they make some kind of sense.

Re snapshots, I don’t really use them to be honest - if I’m about to make significant changes to a document, I just make a copy of it, call the copy “v1.1” or whatever, and then keep both documents so I can refer to the old if need be. I don’t know how practical this is for you, of course. You may also consider just ditching the old snapshots, if they’re very old and you’re sure you won’t need those earlier versions.

(Apologies if any of the above is blindingly obvious, but you didn’t indicate how familiar you are with Scriv, or how you normally organise things. Just trying to help.)

Just to clarify this is ONE scrivener project with only ONE title in that project. If you have multiple titles in the scriv file the first thing to do would be to separate each title into its own project.

Just to build on Anthony’s points, be militant about enforcing order on yourself. It will become habit over time, but it is much easier to put in the work to keep order up front than it is to clean up later. I find this is true in just about everything.

What he said.

(I use a similar tactic in note-taking - whenever I make a note, be it a quick jot-down of an idea, or notes from a conf call, or whatever, the very first thing I do is write the date and project title at the top of the page. It sounds so insignificant as to be dumb and needless, but it’s saved my ass a couple of times, and I’ve been doing it for so long that I don’t even think about it any more.)

Another option you may consider is to use one PROJECT as your “datat collection” and refinement. THen once you have something refined and polished put it into ANOTHER project.

That way one project is for hashing out your idea and collecting notes and concepts and the other project is for concepts that are ready for the first draft.

That way you can hash out concepts witout cluttering your final working area.

If that makes any sense?

As someone who is not naturally ‘organized’ in a linear world, I empathize. :slight_smile:

I had to clean up a big mess in Scrivener and I’m learning as I go through the ‘tidying up’ (I like your expression). My first excursions into this murk were difficult, but not impossible, and I am now the proud owner and (mostly reliable) keeper of a shiny and productive Scrivener project. :laughing:

I had to enlist my tactile sense to help and to get a different perspective. I got a stack of index cards onto which I wrote topics. You could also brainstorm topics on a sheet of paper. I then grouped similar topics under a single heading and created folders from these headings, then subheadings as I needed them. Don’t worry about perfection, if that’s a concern–you’ll refine as you go along. I would start with very general categories at first, then refine as I needed.

I also find that when I work with drafts, I have to print the pages and cut the paragraphs/sections and physically cluster these with paper clips to index cards. I can then picture the project and its organization much better.

Oh, and: Back up your scrivener project before you start–that way, if anything happens, you can return to your original file.

To start, I’d select all those files and bits of writing and Group them into a single folder (select in the binder, Control-click, Group)–just to clear the binder. Then you might begin moving files to a few general subfolders. Again, you can select several files, Group them, and name the new folder.

To illustrate, here’s an overview of my ‘organization’:

In my Research folder, I have general subfolders like ‘background info’ with subfolders for ‘theaters,’ ‘song,’ ‘theories,’ for instance. I also have folders for specific sources, ‘references for future,’ ‘archives,’ ‘ideas from archive research,’ and so on. the organization is not perfect by any means, but it helps me. And it’s much, much easier than facing an overwhelming mass of material.

I’m working towards a system for drafts that works for me. So far, I have top-level Working Draft folders for:

  1. Arguments
  2. Keep in mind
  3. Snippets I want to use
  4. Current writing
  5. Bf chapter
  6. Previous drafts
  7. Sent drafts

I do most of my work in Current writing, which has the following folders:
2. Discards/Elsewhere
2. Intro-ish
2. Incorporate

And Intro-ish (again, where I do the bulk of my work) includes:
3. intro to [works]
3. views on [works]
3. methodology
3. theaters
3. audiences

I’ve discovered that I need folders for ‘Discards/Not sure/elsewhere’–those bits I want to hang on to but don’t know where to place–and that a single folder is better than several tucked away (and lost) in other folders.

The other top-level folders serve more as reminders as I draft and revise; I have older drafts in Previous Drafts from which I cull and move material to Current Writing.

I hope this helps a little. I’m afraid I may have befuddled more than clarified. :confused: Do you brainstorm using mind-mapping? Freemind is a nice and free program; I’ve found that mind-mapping helps me clarify my ideas.

I’d be curious to know how you proceed. Good luck!

I’d go along with everything suggested above and add one more technique which has helped me personally: if you have time to go through your chaos of files and review them, you might consider adding asterisks * ** *** to determine the quality of ideas to return to later / not so later on.

A simple project wide search provides the hot items that you really can’t live without, or the stuff you’d like to add if you can find the right spot for it, and so on.

Often when I’m not writing at top capacity I’ll just write a rambling state-of-the-project-address to myself which often throws new ideas up. Usually I don’t know where they’ll go yet, but I do have a sense of how excited they make me so I just chuck in a few *** and that way I can always find the good stuff that I’ve long forgotten about while I was constructing the draft itself. I guess I review them every two or three weeks or so.

Whether you remove the asterisks when you supplant that idea to the draft or not is up to you. And the ability to drag a short text selection off the page and directly into the binder (which creates a new file) is invaluable in this editing process as well.

  • I should add that the asterisks can be in the body of the file text (right next to the good bit) and not necessarily in the file name: Scrivener’s project-wide search finds everything regardless.

Thank you very much for taking the time, everyone. I see how I can organize my stuff to make it workable again. Thanks again, there are some great ideas here - you chaps have literally pulled it back from the brink for me. Really, really helpful.

If all else fails buy plenty of beer…