Creating a Swipe File

As a writer, you have no need to recreate the wheel whether you are writing a book, article or research paper.

Enter the swipe file.

Depending on what you're writing, yours may contain:

  • headlines
  • lead sentences
  • closing sentences
  • topic ideas
  • works by favorite authors
  • or anything else you can think of

What is a swipe file?

Let's look at two examples:

First, the headline file.

This can be an actual file folder into which you drop clipping of interesting headlines, or it can be a computer file - a simple document where you type in or copy/paste compelling headlines.

Either choice works when you are stuck for creating your own headlines.

This is also the type of file used for ideas and leads. Using this type of swipe file is easy. It requires little time or space.

The second example is works by favorite authors.

Unlike a headline clipping, you can't just drop a book into a manila folder to go back to for guidance and inspiration. That being the case, you have a couple of other options for those treasured books.

  • You can have designated shelves among your other books especially for those favorites you return to over and over again.

  • Or, you can purchase digital versions of the books you like best and store them on your computer.

While digital books don't take up the physical space of print ones, they do eat up your computer memory. Also, they are easily lost in a computer crash if you don't back up regularly or use cloud storage.

Once upon a time, digital books had limited markups for highlighting passages or making notes in the margins. This is not the case today. 

Other types of swipe files might include quotes, photos or even favorite slogans and tag lines.

You are not limited to a single type of swipe file.

Experiment with all kinds and use the ones that work best for you.

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