• Organizing Your Files and Pages and Notes and Stuff

    By on January 19, 2019 Posted in ABCs of Writing     Comments 3 comments


    Discussion questions: When you have work/writing/notes scattered all over your living space and work space, how do you keep it organized, and how do you know where to find what you need? I’m talking computer files, index cards, random scraps of paper, photographs, notes scribbled in margins of books. Or do you have a good way to avoid descending into such chaos to begin with? Let me know in the comments below.


    After last week’s chaos involving my lost chapter, and all of your wonderful feedback on how to avoid future such catastrophes–organizing external storage on Google Drive, flash drives, etc.–I started thinking about organization in general.

    If you’re anything like me, you have work/writing scattered everywhere. If you’re even more like me, too often you don’t know where to find what you need.

    For my novel, I have files on my computer and files on flash drives. I also have handwritten pages and notes spanning three writing journals. I have notes on index cards and other scraps of paper. I have printed copies of early drafts of work, stuff that doesn’t even exist as computer files anymore. I have notes scribbled in the margins of books I’ve read about my novel’s topic.

    I have all of that for my memoir as well, in addition to: voice memos on two phones of interviews and notes-to-self; other interviews on a separate audio recorder; hundreds of photos, both physical and on flash drives; and relevant objects (a particular baseball glove; a particular 1956 high school yearbook; a seventy-year-old business card) in various drawers in my nightstand, my desk, and my closet.

    When I need to find something specific, I often know where to look. Roughly. But just as often, I don’t.

    There’s got to be a better way! But short of creating some sort of card cataloging system, I’m just not sure what that way is.

    What is your way? Let me know below.

    Also, P.S., I’m pleased to report that not more than three hours ago I learned that the Chapter 1 I lost last week has been refound. After I was told on Thursday that it was probably lost forever. This news has set me much more at ease. A huge thank you to Jose at Lincoln Business Machines. If you’re in NYC and ever need data recovery or repairs, they have my full endorsement.

    Now comes the most difficult part: Reading this resurrected Chapter 1 and hoping like hell that it merits all the lengths so many people went to save it.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

    Losing Your Writing, Vol. 2

    By on January 12, 2019 Posted in ABCs of Writing     Comments 26 comments


    Discussion questions: What do you use/do to back up your work? What’s your most horribly horrific horror story involving lost writing? Let me know in the comments below.


    I owe some work to my new writing group, and the new group coincides with a re-envisioning of my fiction: What started as a novel and then became a linked story collection is now again a novel.

    So on Saturday I sat myself down, wrote Chapter 1 at the top of the page, and dove in.

    Monday afternoon, after about six hours of work over three days, I had a 2,500-word chapter.

    Not only that, it felt like a good chapter. Something that, after a small amount of revision, I’d be comfortable sharing with the bunch of strangers that make up my new group.

    Monday night, my computer died. The photo above? Of the sad faces behind what looks like prison bars? That was the graphic on the screen that led me to believe that this experience was not going to end well.

    And it didn’t. My computer is unfixable, and the file, my new Chapter 1, is unrecoverable. read more

    In 2019, You Will!

    By on January 5, 2019 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 12 comments

    Happy 2019, WriteByNighters! I feel like this is going to be our best year yet. Are you feeling the same?

    And what better way to kick it off than to talk about what we want to accomplish as writers and readers.

    “Resolutions” can be an intimidating word; if you prefer not to, don’t use it. Goals. Wants. Hopes. However you phrase it, I want to hear what you’d like to achieve between now and December 31.

    Our tradition has been to ask you to complete the following sentence:

    “In 2019, I will _______”

    But “will” is edging into resolution territory, so this year, let’s try something new:

    “In 2019, I _______” read more

    Your 2018 Writing Accomplishments

    By on December 29, 2018 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 28 comments

    I was planning on doing our annual writing goals post for this week, but I think I want to push that off to next week and instead allow us all a minute to acknowledge the great things we did in 2018.

    If you set a 2018 literary resolution, did you hit it, or at least make good progress toward it?

    (Maybe you announced it in the comments of 2018’s goals post?)

    Did you grow and improve as a writer? As a reader?

    What was your greatest literary achievement in 2018? The thing you’re most proud of as a writer and/or a reader? read more

    Best of 2018

    By on December 22, 2018 Posted in Writing Resources     Comments No comments

    Christmas is in only three days, New Year’s Eve is in only nine days, 2019 is staring us in the face, and many of us are out on the road, or on the tracks, or on the water, or in the sky, or, just as likely, stranded somewhere due to weather.

    And we need reading material! To get us through these dull and lonely hours of lines and waiting.

    I figured I could either write a novella-length post for you this week on a particular topic or offer variety in bite-size chunks.

    We published about fifty posts in this space this year, and if you’ve read all of them, you’re my hero. But between general busyness, life hiccups, and the fact that not every blog post topic will grab your interest, I suspect few of you have done so. Hell, I doubt I’ve read them all!

    So I thought I’d pick some highlights from our blog this year and offer them up this week as extra reading material for your travels. I’ve chosen ten of my favorites. Some I picked because I like the content or have some fond memory of writing it; others I chose not so much because of the post but because of the wonderful discussions you guys sparked in response to it.


    I’m going to start with a couple of posts that might come particularly in handy this week:

    read more

    The Best Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    By on December 15, 2018 Posted in ABCs of Writing     Comments 4 comments

    In last week’s post, “The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book,” a few WriteByNighters took the time to discuss with us the pitfalls they had to jump across during the process of self-publishing their books.

    This week, those same WriteByNighters have given even *more* of their time to tell us about the most rewarding parts of self-publishing. 

    read more

    The Hardest Part of Self-Publishing Your Book

    By on December 8, 2018 Posted in ABCs of Writing     Comments 2 comments

    Since announcing our new publication assistance services, we’ve received more than the usual amount of questions about self-publishing, particularly: What is the hardest part of self-publishing your book and are there any easy parts?

    We figured who better to pose these questions to than WriteByNight clients with real-world experience. Four helpful writers responded: Dana Frank, Assaf Raz, Dan Hays, and Marcia Drut-Davis.

    We’ll tackle the “easy” part next week, but for this week we’re going to start with the hard stuff. read more

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