Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Organized Writer

So I'm often referred to as anal retentive and no where is that more helpful than when I'm writing!  I'm just like anyone else though: if it's too complicated, I'm not going to keep up with it.  So here are the things I'm currently using and some tips to go along.

1. Spreadsheets.  I love excel and making spreadsheets.  So neat and organized and lined.  I use a spreadsheet with lots of tabs for tracking my writing ideas as well as my (meager) writing income from ads, Today's Mama (pay per click), Amazon Associates and Kindle subscriptions.  But the first tab is for post ideas.  This way, as soon as I have an idea, I add it to the list and I'm not wracking my brains later for a topic.  I have lately been sidetracked by graphic design but normally, I like to regularly post on each of my three blogs.  I label each idea with which blog it will go on, what type of post it will be (in order to keep my overall blog subjects focused, I have a list of post types for each of my blogs) and where else I can blurb or advertise that post.  I also note any contacts in relation to a post or article.  I ALSO color code my entries.  They are yellow until I write the post.  I change the color to green if I have written and posted it but still need to put that post somewhere else or need to notify someone that the post is up.  I remove all color so it's white when I am completely done with the post.  

2. Calendar....OK, which I made with excel.  This way if I have a strangely open hour or two and I write feverishly, I can spread out my posts.  I also mark the pub dates of all the books I get from so I know what order to read them in (oldest pub dates first).  Really, this can be so helpful to see at a glance which days you've schedule posts.  I highly recommend it.

3.  Daily schedule.  I have an atrocious habit of doing things as they strike me, so scared am I of forgetting to do something.  I try to work against it by giving myself certain days for writing to certain blogs.  I also designate certain days for cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.  It helps me to focus on the task at hand---I can tell myself "Yes, there's laundry to do, but laundry day is Monday, today is Saturday, so let's finish up this post."  Sometimes, things get away from me and I find myself not writing in order to do dishes that have been sitting for a few hours, but really (truly!) I get MORE done by following a schedule.  Otherwise, I'm doing dishes, then wiping down counters, then stopping to run something to its rightful place upstairs, then pausing to wipe at that spot on the mirror, etc etc and basically doing everything but BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keys).  In other words, for me, a general routine helps me to write instead of spin my wheels.  It also means I can work on posts in the morning and my novel in the afternoon. (which I haven't been doing lately!)  Also helpful: I've realized now what is reasonable and what is unreasonable in terms of expectations for my daily time with kids, their nap times and running errands.  For example, I will probably not be writing for Technorati anymore, nor will I be copying and pasting my blog posts into Bloggy Moms---there isn't enough time in my week!

 All in all, you need to do what works for you, what is easiest and what dovetails with your natural inclinations/habits/lifestyle.  But overall, I highly recommend some kind of organizational system, especially if you are a freelancer.


Please also see Kim Harrison's character grid (which is excellent!) and Fiction Writer's Character Chart.  
What do you do to keep organized?  


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