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How to Organize Your Writing Life

To write is to explore the genius of one’s mind. It’s an activity that shows us exactly how creative one can truly be. Some people love it so much that they want to make it a regular part of their lives. A few even would love to get paid for it! In order to do either, you’ll have to get organized.

Organized Writing, Disorganized Writing

Disorganized writing endeavors result in rushing to meet professional or self-set deadlines, losing important ideas for stories or themes, and living in a constant state of writing dysphoria. An organized writing life leads to early completion, exceeding everyone’s expectations, and many completed works. An organized writing life involves organizing your time, your mind, and your stuff.

 

Organizing Your Mind: 

The very first step in organizing your writing life would be organizing your mind. Volition is a person’s will and is the first step to doing anything. If you are going to take a walk, you think about doing it before you actually do. The same thing happens when you write. 

 

There is much more to this step than simply deciding you are going to try to write more. You need to create goals. Without goals, there is less of a will.

 

 There are three types of goals you should set. 

  1. An ongoing goal that relates to how often or how much you are going to write.
    • How many days per week or month you plan on writing
    • How many words or pages you plan on completing each day, week, or month
  2. A short term goal directly relating to how much writing work you’ve done so far
    • Write a full short story
    • Get started on a story idea
    • Create an outline for a book series
  3. A long term goal also related to where you are at right now
    • Publish a book
    • Keep a blog running for a year

 

Organizing your mind involves willpower, volition, and lastly, the mindset that you will succeed. As you’re creating your goals and deciding you will write, it’s important that you keep in mind this quote from Henry Ford: 

 

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” 

 

Organizing Your Time:

Even with all the goals and positive mindset you can muster, time is important and only proper time management will enable you to succeed. There are a number of obligations that may already take your time. School, work, and family obligations are a few. This doesn’t include clubs, social activities, doctor’s visits, or other things that can take away the time of someone who doesn’t plan time for their writing activities.

 

One should make an effort to schedule at least fifteen minutes every day for writing. You can get done a lot more than you thought if you just take a small amount of time each day to write. If you were instead planning on writing every other day, double it to thirty minutes. Writing only on the weekend? Try to spend at least an hour. 

 

The most important part of this planning is trying to do it around the same time every time you write. It’s all about creating a routine, routines not only help with making sure you write, but it allows you to balance your life so precious minutes aren’t lost in a frenzy. Things may still come up every once in a while, but planning keeps it to a minimum.

 

Organizing Your Stuff:

Now that you have created a good foundation, we move on to the final step, organizing your stuff. Stuff can mean a lot of different things. It can be hard copies of your writing, notes, or it can be digital copies on your desktop or in folders. Most writers have both kinds. In fact, if you don’t, you may be missing a fundamental part of your writing. If you only use a computer to write, try carrying around a mini notebook and pen to catch missed ideas. If you only use a hardcopy, try backing things up on your computer or even posting some works online to a site like Deviantart to get valuable feedback.

 

Going Digital

Digital copy organization falls heavily on three aspects: Folders, Titles, and Web-Sharing. 

Titles of your documents should state exactly what the piece is. Don’t have a title for your work? Give it a placeholder title that accurately describes the genre, format, and a key theme. For example, fhfjfid is a terrible file name. Amusingly enough, writers do this whenever they don’t feel like titling something. Forest is an okay title, it describes a key piece of the writing but after a while, you may forget what it refers to. Centaur Battle Short Story Snippet is a great title. It tells you that it’s a piece of a story about battling centaurs.

 

Folders should also accurately state the content inside. You want to be sure you have folders to separate your stories, poems, and other content. You should also separate by finished, edited, or unfinished pieces.

 

Hard Copies

Here’s where things get a little trickier. The key to making it not so tricky is to use file folders and a three-ring binder with dividers.

The three-ring binder should include all of the work you are working on right now. The folders are there for your other ideas, prompts, random scenes, character developments, and warm-ups. The goal here is to keep everything but to keep it organized.

Another thing about writing hard copies is to have a space for your writing. You should always know where your papers, writing utensils, and binder are at all times. This way whenever you need to start writing or find a piece of your writing, it is there for you. It’s also important to keep the space cleared otherwise you’ll have to spend valuable writing time making sure you have enough space for a passion that should have space already clear for it.

Writing is a passion that will enrich your entire life. To keep your writing life organized you need to keep certain aspects of your life. Organize your time with routines, organize your mind with goals, and organize your stuff with binders and file folders. If you follow the tips above you will be able to lead a life of creative and fulfilling writing.

 

If you’re interested in writing about your life, check out Lifestory Laboratory! I lead you through getting those stories out of your head and onto paper…healing old wounds in the meantime.

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