Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Neat Writer Stuff

Every year spring cleaning means getting my office reorganized, which gives me a reason to splurge a little on new organizational stuff. I like shopping at Target stores because they always have something different, interesting, or clever for me to lust over in the office supplies aisles. Here are some things I picked up on my last trip:

Greenroom Recycled File Folders: You'd never know it to look at them, but these folders are made with paper that contains 60% recycled paper fiber and are printed with nontoxic soy-based ink. I picked them up at first because they're colorful and attractive, so finding out that they're also eco-friendly was a nice bonus. ($3.99 for a pack of 12)

Post-it Printed Notes Book: 3M never quits evolving the humble sticky note, and this time they've come up with something that is really helpful and purse-friendly: a little book-type folder that holds two 3.9" X 5.9" Post-it pads. It comes with a lined pad for taking notes, and a week-at-a-glance pad which has a small space where you can jot down reminders, appts and other things you need to remember. There's also an elastic band to hold it closed. My only complaint is that it's not designed with pockets to be refillable, but I think once you use up the pads that come with it you could certain use a glue stick to put in a couple of replacements yourself. ($7.99)

Project Case: When I'm working on a chapter, a galley or another stack of printed pages I usually paperclip or rubber-band it and keep it in a paper folder. This doesn't always keep the pages neat or clean, though, especially if I have to take it along with me and toss it in the back seat of the car or stick it in a tote bag. I don't always want to lug my briefcase along with me, either, so it's been a problem. This project case is durable, rigid, seals and latches, and is light enough to carry anywhere. It also has enough room to fit my pens, highlighters and other editing tools, and the flat bottom serves as a nice impromptu lap desk. ($4.99)

Tack TileBoard Magnetic Bulletin Board: I have problems grasping small objects, and I've never found a small noteboard I can park anywhere and that doesn't require me to fumble with push-pins -- until now. This 9" X 9" board is small enough to fit anywhere, comes with 11 pushpins and 4 magnets, can be mounted on a wall, or used with its easel stand on any flat surface. The steel mesh surface is certainly going to be more durable than cork, which tends to disintegrate from use over time, and the magnets are a lot easier for me to handle than those annoying little pins. Also, if you want a bigger surface to work with, you can hang two or more of these together on a wall. ($14.99)

I bought an extra one of everything to give away, so if you'd like a chance to test them out personally, in comments to this post tell us a helpful tip, neat trick or cool tool you use to keep your writer, reader or other stuff organized (or if you can't think of any, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Thursday, April 15, 2010. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner all of the above listed neat writer stuff along with a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

49 comments:

  1. Oh, I love PostIt! Everything looks great, I'd love to have stuff like that for writing/editing.

    The majority of my sticky notes and folders get used for school so all of my writing is either done in a notebook or on my laptop. The same goes for editing, but I try to print everything off and highlight and use what sticky notes I have for that part.

    Sometimes I try to draw up a time-line so I know when everything is happening, and I try to do a little outlining just so I know the general direction things are going, as well as doing some character sketches/sheets to get inside their heads. But other than that I don't generally have the time to use anything else due to classes and homework. :/ So thanks for the chance to try some new stuff out!

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  2. Oooh, I'm lusting after that project case. That's exactly what I need for writing, work, and grad school.

    I'm very organized, but my organization schemes are fairly standard: accordion files, letter files, mail sorters. Most of my writing work is on my computer, so each novel has its own folder, with one sub-folder for the manuscript/drafts and one for all the background materials, like character sheets, outlines, etc. Each short story project has its own subfolder in my short stories folder. My post-it notes go everywhere, though.

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  3. Well, my computer files are no longer entitled with initials - that made it too hard to find what I was looking for ;-) I don't have a title for the story I'm planning, so the filename is simply the place in which the novel is set.

    And the handwritten stuff - it's on top of the other stuff on my bedroom floor. Blank pages leftover from my school exercise books. Torn out, and brought next to the computer, so I can have all my "files" with me at once.

    Okay, it's not very organised - which is why I'd really like to win this prize bundle ;-)

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  4. Speaking of 3M, I still love their Sortable Cards for outlining.

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  5. Useful stuff... USB Hub for the laptop. With all the plug in peripherals I need - printer, thumb drives, external drive, external mouse, wireless broadband, mp3, camera, etc - the hub provides an extra four connections should I need them;

    A foldable document holder, that fits flat and neatly in the laptop bag; and

    Lined Post-It pages and notes. I can take my office anywhere in the laptop bag.

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  6. I can't say I have anything really neat or special I use to keep stuff organized, just your everyday things like notecards, binders, ect. I LOVE notecards. Great for outlining scenes.

    That project case sounds like exactly what I need. I am always carrying around loose pages and I'm always worried I'll lose them!

    And I love Target!

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  7. I love love LOVE the office supply section. That was one thing I adored about the beginning of school (new supplies)!!! It was like winning a jackpot in college since every semester was an excuse to go get new pens and such. I don't know that I have any great organizational ideas as my organization has fallen by the wayside as a mom. But since I might be going back to work in the not so distant future and from home this prize sounds like the perfect solution.

    Thanks for the great ideas Lynn!!!!!!

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  8. It's not so much organized as the recycled bit. I felt guilty printing out a 300 page manuscript to edit, but it was necessary. So now I save the papers that get printed, used and discarded, then print the manuscript for editing on the other, clean side.

    After all, no one's gonna see it but me. Not this time around ;-)

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  9. *droooools* maan i love love LOVE stationary and organizers and post it notes. i'm getting all excited now lol

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  10. I picked up some good tips from this. The magnetic tile board is way cool. I'm pretty much a stack of paper in a manila folder girl so this stuff would be inspirational.

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  11. I really try to keep my desk neat, but it´s very hard...

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  12. My 3rd grade class and I have discovered 3M Post it cover up tape! We love it for our shared writing and independent writing! We call it "oopsie tape!"

    I also have a blue copy pen to mark originals. It does not show up when you make a copy of the paper but students know when they mistakenly get an original master copy.
    AnnA

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  13. As a reader, my favorite tool is my bookweight. It holds the book open flat on the table so I can read while eating breakfast. I got mine from Levenger but most bookstores have them now.

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  14. I'm gonna have to try to find that post it notebook. How cool.

    My two biggest loves for plotting as a writer are my dry erase board (the bigger the better) and my index cards. I just can't get away from them.

    I did meet a woman once who said in place of dry erase boards, she used butcher's paper and wall papered one wall of her office with it. That always sounded cool to me.

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  15. Other than an endless supply of 5-subject notebooks and red pens, I don't use that many office supplies. I did pick up a nifty plastic expandable folder for sorting submission materials into some kind of easy-to-find order.

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  16. love the office supplies areas of Target. Office Depot and Office Max...I could spend a whole day in each of them.

    So lets see, bookstores, used bookstores, office supply stores, Target and oh yes my local library...Zen! :)

    I used to be super organized but the last few years I have so slacked. Which drives that part of me crazy. So it is time to get back my personal office! hehe.

    4 drawer used filing cabinet (was tossed out by my old workplace came home with me), fire proof cabinet for my important papers, accordion file case for yearly papers, see through storage cases for those things I cannot bare to get rid of yet (birthday cards, etc.) Index cards for notes and story outlines, steno pads for writing research notes(am left handed so it works better for me)

    Great ideas and finds Lynn! thank you for sharing:)

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  17. I am a sucker for pretty folders : )

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  18. What is it about office supplies that they suck us in? I believe I have a lifetime supply, yet it just isn't enough. Hubby physically tries to block me from the office supply aisles (jokiingly, of course).

    I bought a ten pack of project folders and have been using them for revisions, but I like the idea of the Project case.

    I was sucked in by the iPad. I love it and am experimenting with ways to use it to enhance writing. Things is one can't miss tool. I installed the MaxJournal app last night for a little electronic journaling that would be more private than a blog. I also have Pages, Adobe Ideas, and the standard Notes app to work with.

    So many office supplies; so little time.

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  19. The project case sounds very useful right about now with all the worksheets I need to sort through for my writing course. May just need to order that now!

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  20. Speaking of Levenger...they have a nifty little Note Card Action Board that you can mount on the wall or it will sit on a desk. Rather than tack anything to it with pushpins, you simply slide your note card or what have you into the band at the bottom of each section. Works for me and I don't have to worry about stabbing myself with a pin.

    I got a briefolio from my family for Christmas made by Levenger also. It zips on three sides and is like a big leather envelope. I can stuff my things in there when I need to be mobile. Unfortunately, everything is always loose, and if I'm not careful, it goes all over, but at least the briefolio makes it more portable than a manila file folder.

    I love office supply stores and the section in Target too. I could spend hours in them...

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  21. Speaking of post-its and organization, I saw this article on a kid's blog.

    Need a visual for your characters? Line up a photo and general info about a character into a space about the size of a post-it note. Print the info onto paper. Place a post-it note over the paper, and send it through again. Now you have a post-it you can stick anywhere as a reminder.

    Here's a photo of what I'm talking about. The notes are strung across a piece of scotch tape I stuck to the wall.

    http://readdebramoore.blogspot.com/2008/11/remembering-my-characters.html

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  22. One day years ago I saw a friend folding these neat origami boxes out of colorful patterned square paper. That's was it; I was hooked. I took to the hobby immediately...

    Even today on my desk at work I have a few boxes I've folded that I use to hold business cards, paper clips, pens, etc.

    Ah, but the irony is that at one point I got so deep into the hobby that I purchased over 50 origami books and have about 10 lbs. of various paper. It's a mess! I suppose I need to fold a giant box to store the paper...

    Or get some of those cool plastic project cases... :)

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  23. I am a post it note fiend! I adore the post it flags mostly and use them on absoutely everything from marking tabbed sections to notes to myself to important passages!. I especailly love the highlighters with the post it tabs built into the top!

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  24. What a wonderful array of practical items. I have always been crazy about stationary. Notebooks, journals, notecards and postits are so helpful and keep me organized. I used to wander through stationary stores in the old days and drool over everything. Browsing and dreaming.

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  25. If you're writing more than one book in a series, be sure to write up a character lexicon before you start the second one--make sure it's got things like appearance particulars in it too. (It only took me three series to get this figured out. It was like a big revelatory moment for me:-)

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  26. I'm an organizational junkie. 3M also makes paperclips with colored tabs attached to them. I use those to tab my agenda with important dates, all color coded of course.

    I keep business card sized card stock, hole punched, and ring bound in my purse. They make for great note keepers and I use them if I'm in contact with someone who doesn't have a business card, but I need their number.

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  27. I'm pretty sure I was born with out the Organization Gene; I wouldn't say I LIKE piles, but apparently that is my current filing system-baskets and piles for bills and toddler works of art. Drives my neat and tidy husband up the wall, which is fun sometimes...

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  28. In a weird computer error I managed to post my organizational methods on the one of the posts from a few days ago (????), so i will just say I love your finds!

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  29. I think all writers love office supplies:) I have a Mead monthly calendar and I am using it just for internet and blog stuff. I also writer articles for websites and I put deadlines on it etc. I have an organizer for everything else, but I liked the idea of something just for the writing/internet related stuff. I use my Outlook Express folders for organizing stuff too. I'm learning, but have a long way to go. LOL

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  30. I am a church secretary and a total post-it whore. Hmm, I just said 'church secretary' and 'whore' in the same sentence...twice. Bad form. That little notebook looks nifty! Totally agree on cork, I have some old boards at the office that shed little pieces whenever I have to move something around.

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  31. I love office supplies, too, but lately everything is on the computer, it seems like... except my pre-writing, which I do in a pretty, purse-sized notebook.

    The useful writing tool of choice I need to pick up is a pair of wrist braces. I just can't seem to combat that strain.

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  32. My favorite tool for writing organization probably isn't very unique: it's a pop-up Post-It Note dispenser. The kind that also has the flags beside it. (I love all things Post-It...)

    Also, I would guess that you can replace the pads in that Post-It notebook fairly easily. All of the pads have the backing that you can remove and stick the pad to something. The replacements might not stay put as well as the originals, however.

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  33. I'm with Maripat on the post it notebook. Where did you get it?

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  34. I love this post! :) I really like all of these tools, especially the post-it printed notes book and project case, although the first seems a little pricey to me.

    I'm extremely organized and always have a ton of different papers and notebooks and things to file. I use a bulletin board tacked up on my wall to put up daily to-do's/reminders as well as any coupons for books or other nifty writers' goodies since in the past I've been really bad about forgetting about my coupons so they end up expiring.

    I also put up character sketches and timelines/outlines for my stories as well just to be more prepared before I actually start them.

    Another thing I like to do (though I'm not sure if this can be called organized) is keep all my work on a single USB drive and then have an exact copy on my computer as well as another USB drive. That way I have multiple extra copies in case of emergencies or accidents.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  35. Um... I WANT that tactile board... lol.

    Something helpful for me-it's a PC program but One Note. I use to organize story ideas.

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  36. My best tip for staying organized is to give all files clear names - even if they seem too long - and to put each file in a clearly named folder. It makes finding things so much faster than running search!

    Thanks for the give-away!

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  37. Awesome! I'm a sucker for file folders and cases.

    I use index cards. For plot: On each one I have a plot point. I put them in order and add tiny notes here and there. I use a binder clip to keep them together. They can get tossed in my purse or backpack and it's thick enough to be seen. Character cards: I have three colors for three main character threads (or more if there are more). Each one follows the character story arc and gives me the personal details of the individual. So far it seems to be the only thing that works for me since I'm on the move all the time.

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  38. Hey The Red Angel, have you tried DropBox? It's a tool (software) that keeps your files synched on multiple computers. You can access your files from anywhere/etc.

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  39. I LOVE post-its. I'm not a writer but I'm sure I could use this stuff for my genealogy. :)

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  40. Allison10:28 PM

    I always had a problem with keeping notes about a single novel in one place, mostly because I couldn't justify spending for a whole new notebook just for one work. Then I got to college and discovered those little blue books. Good for exams, good for keeping your characters, plot twists, and setting notes in one place. They're cheap and small enough that I don't feel bad if I don't use every piece of paper real estate.

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  41. Wanted to make sure my name was thrown in the hat. Didn't see my first post listed here.

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  42. (Copied from comments for Fire and Ice post)

    Savannah Rayne said...
    I spend a lot of time on the go or being banned from the house computer, so i have found that both gdocs and my writing nook are godsends when i have an idea i need to jot down for my writing. I have both on my phone. The great thing is that when i can sit down at a computer, all my information is synced from my phone to the web in easy to access files. :)

    Of course, I also have several spiral bound notebooks and 3 ring binders with ideas and "what ifs" overflowing the pages too. :p

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  43. Totally agree about Target's office supply aisles -- I could spend all day there. :)

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  44. Post it notebook looks handy. The project case looks like it would fit inside my laptop case. That would save me from carrying my laptop, backpack, and purse when I get out of the house to write in a fresh place. The less bags/totes I have to carry around, the better!!!! All great items to use!!!

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  45. I'm a big fan of 3-ring binders. The best organization system for notes I used to have was the apartment I lived in with chalkboards on the walls (it was an old school...) I wrote notes to myself all the time for future ideas, etc. Alas... I moved out...

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  46. A little tip: If you don't have enough room for a big notice board, or yours is filled up, try taping sheets of A4 card together. It's durable and folds up along the tape to be packed away nicely, I'm currently using that method to keep track of my novel.

    p.s great post, I love buying office stationary. I'm the UK so don't put me in the draw to win but I'll be purchasing that post-it note pad!

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  47. I am going to have to read all these comments for good ideas, because I still haven't found an organization technique I am happy with. The only saving grace I have is that I've created a good naming system for my files so that I know what version of what I'm working on and what version of what I've sent to which agent when. Otherwise, my desk is an explosion that gets shoved into different forms of zen-ness that never stay...

    I do use 3-ring binders for my edits, but I need to get a different kind, because I also have lose-leaf papers floating around, with notes of what to change and etc...Frankly, that Project Folder sounds nice, so at least my free-floating stuff doesn't get banged up in a tote bag...

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  48. I like that project case - I think I'll check it out - one for each person in the family - and built in lap desk.

    I print drafts to edit and put them in a binder. I have a red pen that clips on the binder ring and use that to mark my place as well. It's really easy to open the binder and get right back to work.

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  49. For a relatively organized person, I'm horribly chaotic with my writing/research. But I'll have to remember those Post-it Note Books for my wife, who has an odd fascination with all things Post-it.

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