Most writers keep a home office (even if it’s just a corner in the bedroom), but with today’s technology, most writers use the Internet as their research library.
That’s fine, but I suggest you build a home office library to keep materials you’ll refer to often. Here are some tips to get you started (or to help you organize what you’ve already started).
- Keep your library simple. Organizing by subject comes naturally to many people, so consider trying that first. You can create a number list for your categories if you like, or you can simply use words and organize alphabetically. If you choose a number list, try something like: #1-Writing tips, #2-Quotes, #3-Plot, #4-Characters, #5-Dialogue, #6-Photos, #7-Graphics and Illustrations, #8-Publishing (Periodicals), #9-Publishing (Books -non-fiction), #10-Publishing (Books-fiction). My point is you create your categories and assign numbers to them so you can mark each item quickly (see next tip).
- Use identifying marks on your library materials. For example, if you print off one of my blog posts to file in your library, decide which category you’ll file it in, then write that category number at the top of the first page so you can re-file it in order to find it again another day.
- Consider making hard copies of things you really want to have available. Computers get viruses, web pages change or, even worse, disappear. As useful as technology is, there’s still a place for hard copies of valuable information you want to keep.
- Keep your library diverse. One of the most attractive things about writers is their insatiable curiosity about life and the world they live in. Keep a variety of articles and books, but also keep brochures, notes, and other references in your library.
- Keep your library current. Writers love information, but not all information serves them well. Learn to purge material that’s outdated or no longer useful.
- Be willing to review your library periodically to see if the system you set up still works for you. My point is you want your library as a resource, not a hoarder’s dream. Your writing career will evolve and so should your home office library.
These few tips are meant to get you started building your home office library. The library you build is meant to help you in your writing career, so do what works for you.