Nothing can ruin a writer’s rhythm faster than being unorganized. It’s like waiting to the last minute to get dressed to go out. Now you’re running late and rushing around. So what do you do? Of course you forget to put on your deodorant. Now you’re out and about and can’t enjoy yourself or do what you set out to do because you’re worried about if you are funky or not. Not a good look at all. Totally ruins the moment, right? Writing and organization work the same way. Proper organization, both internally and externally, is essential to having a productive writing session as well as to our continued growth and success as writers.
So what does it mean to be organized? Well it means being proactive in your approach. It means getting yourself and your resources together so that when you are getting started on a project, or picking up where you left off, you are in a position to be productive. Maximum productivity should always be the goal.
See, not taking the time to organize yourself beforehand is a fast path to frustration and an unproductive writing experience (more on that in a later post!). Failing to invest in organization is the equivalent of failing to put gas in your car before taking a long drive. You are almost assured of getting stranded and pissed off somewhere along the way, right?
Good news! This is a costly headache that can easily be avoided. In writing, each session should be approached as a mission. And missions require organization, tools, and tactics. Your session can be a short mission (short-story, paragraph, a few pages, etc.) or it can be an extended mission (novel, lengthy revisions, 1st or 2nd draft, etc…). Regardless of the specific mission parameters, there is a critical need to prepare yourself; to organize and ensure you have everything you need to successfully accomplish your mission.
So how do we prepare ourselves internally? First, prepare ahead of time. Have an idea of what you will be working on before your next scheduled writing session. Which project, which scene, etc. Do you know where you last left off? It’s always best to take a proactive approach to organization by “preparing for the next time, THIS TIME” (more to come on this topic too!). That means that when you are finishing up a particular writing session, one of your last actions should be reaching a good stopping point, marking your place, and doing anything you can so it will be easier to get started the next time out. This includes: leaving yourself any notes you may need, cleaning up your workspace, and any other preparation you can think of before you end your session.
Second, take the time to gather your thoughts BEFORE you dive in. Game-plan. Strategize. In the writing business, as with many other businesses, time is money (another hint about a later post!). So save yourself some time and heartache by estimating how much time you have for this particular writing session and setting some loose goals for this specific session based on your available time. How many words are your writing today? How many pages? Do you have a particular aspect of your project that you are tackling today? It’s all about working “smarter, not harder” (more to come to this in the very near future too!). Utilize a “to-do” list if you need one. Again, the goal is to maximize your time and be an efficient and productive writer.
And third, fix your mind on the task at hand. Focus. Lock-in. Block out everything not related to this writing session. This includes: bills to be paid, dishes to be washed, laundry to be laundered. Clear your mind and…let...it…go…These seemingly simple and mundane details will go a long way towards keeping you productive if tackled in a proactive manner (that “proactive” word again).
Remember, this is YOUR time, so devote this time to you and your work. You owe to yourself as a writer to wear your writer’s hat and that hat only for this allotted amount of time. This is why we organize proactively, not reactively, so we have this time set aside beforehand and we don’t have to feel guilty about trying to break away or steal writing time on short notice.
Ok, now that you have set this time aside and that time is here: LOCK IN, FOCUS, AND MAKE IT HAPPEN! Stay tuned for Part II of “Get Organized: External Organization”.
Until then, HAPPY WRITING!