Saturday, September 1, 2012

Organization: From Life to Writing

Lately I have been seriously obsessed with getting my life organized (I think it stems from moving way to much over the past few years). College is long since over, my career is just starting to be in full swing, and I have stopped moving for the foreseeable future. So I was out of excuses, it was time to organize all the stuff I have been dragging around with me for years.

I finally have a workspace, and I have finally finished putting up all the storage spaces for work stuff, and putting together the various binders for each category of work related stuff. And who would have guess that suddenly things I used to spend days looking for are now within reach in a matter of seconds. So I started to figure maybe if I could apply this to all my works in progress intangible items, I could be about a million times more productive.

The issue for me is a visual one. I spend all day working on files on the computer, I never get to hold them in my hand or see a stack of papers start to pile up on my desk. And for a person like me, if I don’t see the backlog of stuff with my own eyes, well, it’s not there. It becomes so easy for me to dismiss doing work stuff for another day because, hey, it’s not like it’s staring at me or anything.

So now I have this great big white board on my wall (I jazzed it up so it’s pretty to look at). One the board lists every book I am currently editing, the author’s name, and the publisher of the book (I work for more than one publisher). Now comes the all important color coding, anything that is essentially “sitting on my desk” is in red. Blue means the book is back with the author, along with the day I sent it back to the author. And green (my favorite color because it means money) means well, money, but also a reminder for me to file everything away for finances and taxes (pesky taxes…grrr). At any time I can look and see visually how much work I really have left to do. Not only that it has made me a better editor because I can track when the last time I check in with authors was, because the last time I want is an author thinking I am neglecting them or that I forgot about their book.

But, I’m not just an editor, I’m a writer too. And I suffer from the same lack of visual problem, after all I don’t write by hand, I write via my trusty laptop that I take with me everywhere (seriously, no joke, I sleep with my laptop under my pillow at night; you never know when an idea might strike or if the house catches on file I can leave quickly while not losing my work). I’ve recently tried to be more organized in my writing my outlining, which has worked in terms of helping me get ideas together in my head. But it’s not doing the trick. Some days I wonder if I should put up one of those fundraiser progress bars on my wall, you know where a church has a goal of “x” dollars to build the new something-or-other and as people donate they color in the progress bar. I need one of those for my word count! Mounted in every room. But that’s not really feasible, now is it?

I don’t know about ya’ll but I need to see things visually or I tend to forget they exist. Does anyone out there have a system in place for their writing? I’d love to here ideas so I can finally come up with something for my writing!


  1. I'm more of an auditory person then visual. Weird for a writer, I know. My method of staying organized is just keeping everything in files, both computer ones and hard copies. I'm always compartmentising things. My problem is purging. I save everything.

    1. I suffer from the "save everything" compulsion in terms of electronic files. Which has actually only come in handy like once when I just started college. The problem for me is I have way to make files to go through on my computer to find what I want. I love my external harddrive though, it's really helped with getting pictures off my computer once I finish scrapbooking them.

  2. Thanks for this post.Very important and timely article. Information provided is concise and informative. Keep up the great work!
    electronic file organization