How to file your papers the effective way


Ha, ha — this is a joke me writing about filing — I could only be choosing this topic because I’m trying to teach myself a skill I lack.  You could probably write this column on filing better than I could.

Thoughts in the night: These could be ideas for books or columns or urgent doctor appointments you must make the next day. My suggestion is you keep 3-by-5 recipe cards and a pen on your bedside table.  A flashlight is helpful. Once jotted down, your brilliant dream, idea, or urgent appointment reminder note must be kept track of so you can retrieve it in the next century. 

I have such important cards stashed in drawers, shoes, bathrobe pockets, and suitcases.  The main thing is these cards are SAFE.

In your office or writing area half-written columns, ideas, or invoices and lab reports can be stored upright in a basket with all your junk mail.

The great American novel you’re working on (if you hand write first which I highly recommend) the scribbled pages can be taped to your walls like wallpaper so you can see the whole mess at once.  

You can start in one room go down the halls and continue pasting and taping into the kitchen on the outside of cupboards and refrigerator and into the dining room around the living room, just mercilessly taping right over paintings, etc. 

The bathrooms are also fair game — some of the best thinking takes place there — floor to ceiling you go with your brilliant novel. Pretty soon you have a book starting to take shape instead of a pile of unmanageable papers to sort through.

I do not encourage you to attach pages of your book to the outside of your house.  I tried this once and the wind came up and blew part of my story into the neighbor’s yard.  He quickly self-published a similar novel to mine before I could say “Bingo.”

Now you ask, “What about typing your manuscript once it’s pasted up everywhere?”  Do you walk around wearing a harness tied to your laptop?

I cannot, as with many questions, give a snappy answer.  I confess this tendency of mine to tape my novel on the walls of my house may explain why I stick to shorter pieces that can be completed in a few hours and published in local papers or national syndicate, rather than some attempt at writing the great American novel which at this very second, in my case, decorates my walls but might get typed next week or some other month.

For now this is what you get to read, brilliant advice to inhale with your coffee, just count it as a gift from me, for that is what it is.

If you want to read my novel — and who could blame you? — come over to my house real quick because the painters are coming and I have to take it down and who knows what might happen then?

Mary McFerren Stobie is a freelance writer whose work has been published in Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. She is syndicated by Senior Wire News Service. Contact her at



No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment