My wonderful husband is hyper organized. For every trip he creates a folder with every conceivable piece of necessary information inside: tickets, itineraries, lists of what to pack, lists of medications, lists of lists…you get the point.
I, on the other hand, tend to be a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gal. Hence, the fact that I have no pictures of my favorite adventures, because I forgot to pack the camera. On the bright side, my lack of planning ability has, so far, saved me from showing up on AFV, so I guess I’m doing ok. There is one area, however, where organization has become key: writing.
For anything longer than a short story or flash fiction piece (say, isn’t someone running a contest with 500 word limit? (My Take, June 11, 2012)), most authors need some sort of organizational strategy.
Programs like OneNote™ and Scribner™ allow you to create a file for each project with separate areas for characters, plot ideas, research, timelines, etc. All your information is kept organized, available at the click of a mouse. For me, this means I never feel the need to strangle my web-browser because it has neglected to cache a particularly useful web page. It also helps me remember what color a character’s eyes are, not to mention the technical term for flight feathers.
Other authors I’ve talked to use hard files with hand or type-written notes. Each category has its own folder. This type of system is a bit bulky for me, but those who use it never have to worry about a system crash destroying months of work either.
It doesn’t matter what system you use, really, but writing a novel is an extensive, intensive process. For some manuscripts, the time spent researching rivals the time spent writing. Without an organizational method, you may find yourself at 2:00 am hunting for (and cursing) the elusive detail that makes the final denouement possible. The best books involve an enormous number of details which are easily forgotten or misremembered, even by the author. And it would be really sad if your heroine had to undergo radical eye surgery half way through the story to change her brown eyes to blue. Or something.