Working Table of Contents – A Way to Organize Your Writing

Create a working table of contents (WTOC) for all your writings.  Think of the WTOC as an idea list.  The working table of contents lists not only the vignettes or articles you’ve written, but also the vignettes or articles you plan to write.  Use actual or working titles for each vignette, chapter, blog post idea or article.

HOT TIP – Create a Working Table of Contents document in a table in your word processing software or use spreadsheet software, such as Excel.

In your WTOC, next to the titles you’ve written, record the current word count.  Also, create a column to notate the phase the writing is in (i.e.  prewritten, 1st draft, middle drafts, close to final, needs proofing, ready to publish, etc.).

Keep ALL your writing in one place on your computer.  Start with a folder titled “MY WRITINGS” or “MY BLOG POSTS” (or title of your collection), for instance.  Within that folder, create a new folder for each vignette OR working title.  Within each folder, save your drafts and revisions along with other supporting documentation, and research for that vignette, chapter, blog post idea or article.

Keep ALL your copies and edits of your writing together too.  Mirror your computer folders by creating manila folders for each of your articles, vignettes, or chapters.  Print the latest drafts and revisions and place them in their respective folders.  Also, collect supporting documents in the folder to create a compost of ideas and springboard material.  For instance, photos, articles about your topic, research notes, letters, interviews with characters who appear in the story, etc.

Store all your writings in one place.  If you have a filing cabinet or drawer where they can all reside together, great!  If not, consider purchasing a portable file tub with a lid.  These are especially handy when you go on vacation and want to take your writing with you.  For those who live in hurricane or flood evacuation zones, the tote tub filing system makes it easy to grab and go, never leaving behind your precious works.

Feed your creativity.  Visit museums, antique stores, and places that carry the associations of your stories.  Make dates with yourself to feed the muse.  Go for walks in the park.  Write in a journal.  Listen to music.  Fill your well with fresh ideas and new musings.  The more you feed the muse, the more often she’ll meet you on the page.

Download a free .pdf of the Working Table of Contents here.

Please leave a comment below this blog post to let  me know what you think.

Let’s get organized!

5 thoughts on “Working Table of Contents – A Way to Organize Your Writing

  1. This is fabulous info Debra and very helpful! I am definitely going to try this because I start on a writing project and then take it as far as I can. This will help me to know where I left off and where to find it easily.

    Great idea! What a positive contribution you just made to writers!

    Keep up the good work and writing!

    Sharon

    • Thank you so much, Sharon. I’m happy to hear you’ll be able to use this writing tip. Please feel free to share the information with your community of writers too. It works to help move writing projects forward too.

      All the best,
      Debra

  2. Thank you for this great idea Debra. I am very disorganized with pages and notes scribbled everywhere of the memories I have that need to be developed. This will help me keep my sanity.

    • Rick, I know the Working Table of Contents will help you get to where you want to be. You have many great stories to share. You gotta get organized and start writing now. You know your daughter and I believe in you! So get started on this WTOC right away. Thanks for leaving a comment. Wishing you all the best!

  3. I’ve already written my book it is a memoir. I’m done I want to get it published. do i still need a table of contents and if so what do i need to put in it?

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