I’d like to spend a little bit of time talking about getting organized.
I know. “Organization” isn’t the sexiest word in the world, but, at least on some level, it’s a necessity. How about if we call it:
Doing Battle with the Forces of Chaos!!!
Ok, let’s get to it.
First, of course, your mileage with this may vary. Everyone is different and what I use here may or may not work for you.
Second, I’m going to break this down into two parts: How I keep the words organized and how I keep myself organized.
One of them is easier than the other. I’ll leave it to you to guess which…
Part 1: The Words
I don’t walk around with a notepad everywhere I go, jotting down ideas for stories. That’s not to say that I’m never very far from a pen and something to write on (I’m never more than 10 feet or so from a pen and paper), but I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Ideas are cheap.
Ideas are cheap. I have several of them a day and if I stopped to jot them down every time I had one…well, I’d be a hell of an annoyance to anyone walking with me and don’t even talk to me about driving…
Personally, I need an idea to do some of the work for me. It’s got to want to be developed. It’s got to follow me around, pestering me night and day until I have no choice but to write it down just to get the damned thing to shut up.
I keep my ideas in a folder on my laptop. Inside that folder, I have two sub-folders. The first is the Ideas folder. I didn’t get too jazzy with the name.
I’ll get to the second folder in a minute.
I do all of my writing in Scrivener. My favorite feature, by far, is the cork board which allows me to arrange chapters and scenes however I want.
In an earlier version of this post, I found myself getting to detail about the other whistles and bells that the program has, but I decided to cut that stuff out. If you’re interested, either check out the link or leave me a question in the comments.
That’s where the words go. I keep a separate copy of whatever I’m working on for each editing pass, just in case (I never throw anything away). I do a little bit of longhand writing when Real Life intrudes and takes a bite out of my writing time, but those barely legible scribbles always go into Scrivener (and not always in the form that they were in when they hit the page–I do a bit of editing on the fly).
When I’m done with a project, I take all of the stuff that didn’t make it into story and I put it in the second folder which I called “Muse Droppings”* Because the stuff in there might be useful later.
One final note on organizing the words:
BACK YOUR SHIT UP!!!
It doesn’t matter how or where you do it. It only matters that you Do It!
Remember, there are only two kinds of people: Those that have lost their precious Work In Progress and those that haven’t…yet.
Part 2: Organizing the Writer:
Ok, I kinda know the guy who we’re talking about here, so I don’t think that it’s too far off the mark to say that keeping him on the ball is like herding cats…with the Serenity.
Yeah, like that. Just imagine all the cats you can herd.
So, how do I do it?
I use a combination of a written “To Do” list and a calendar. I’ve tried complicated (and expensive) Day-planners and they didn’t work for me. Over the years, I’ve boiled it down to its most basic elements.
For calendaring, I use Google Calendar on my phone. I used to buy paper calendars every year until I came to the realization that I used them primarily to look at the pictures and I never actually put anything on them. If I wanted to spend time looking at Firefly, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. pictures I can use Google Images and do if for free.
Most important to me is that the calendar app lets me set reminders for myself–and believe me, I need them. Without it, I’m sure I would have either burst into flames, been staked, or (worse) missed a deadline by now.
The “To Do” list I keep on a notepad. I do this for two reasons. First, I really enjoy writing longhand. My wrists, however, are a little on the messed up side, and any long-term writing ends with a set of numb fingers and illegible (even to me) chickenscratch pen-vomit.
The list lets me feed the need to write longhand and it keeps stuff that I need to get done in front of me so that it, you know, gets done (like a weekly blog post).
The second reason is that I can adjust things in the list as priorities change and I can’t do that in my calendar app without spending time I don’t really have figuring out how to do that.
That’s really all there is to it. Like I said, simple, but, without it, the entire world descends into
And nobody wants that…
*I totally stole the name “Muse Droppings” from Kalayna Price. You should check out her work.
Music: Blind Guardian – Bright Eyes