I’m not the most organized person in the world. I let my personal inbox overflow (I think I have over 2700 emails in there). Tools can be found in drawers, bowls, and boxes. My workspace is cluttered with things that I rarely use and somehow just never put away. My clothes rarely find the laundry basket and instead reside on my closet floor (the laundry basket is in my wife’s closet).
But not when it comes to my work files. I’m almost annoyingly organized. I have two hundred emails in my inbox, but only because I haven’t gone through them in a couple months. I could easily reduce this down to 50 in a matter of minutes, I just need to move emails into the proper folders for the given project. All of my programming files are organized into folders for different file types, related sites, and on and on.
I’ve taken some of this organization to my writing files as well and Scrivener has done wonders to help be be even more organized. Rather than have a folder with all my short stories, I have one scrivener file. Rather than have multiple books in a series in a folder. I have one Scrivener file. Rather than have one huge file with all my chapters in it, a separate file for notes, research, character sketches…Yes, I have one Scrivener file.
I’ve said before that Scrivener has changed how I write. I still type like a madman and let the story drag me along for the ride, but I know have an easier way to keep track of characters, places, events, personal items. I can set a word target for a chapter or scene and see if I get there. I’ve had a blast keeping track of all sorts of different things.
I’ve also got my spread sheet that I just love. I’ve organized my daily word counts broken down by blog posts and fiction. I can see at a glance how I’m doing. Where I’m at with my goal. How many days ahead or behind am I. How many words ahead or behind am I (for the record, I’m 20 days ahead of schedule for 2012). I’ve plotted out fiction word counts for JuNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo. I’ve plotted out how many words I need to write a day to hit my annual goal.
I had decided that at the beginning of the year I needed to treat my writing more as a part time job rather than just a “Hey, I think I should write something” and I’ve written nearly 200,000 words so far. I’ve done that by organizing my writing life rather than letting it just be like the clothes on my closet floor; something I’ll get to later. I’ve made myself accountable to more people than just myself. There are a lot more words to come out of me. Not because I want to be a writer or even want to be a published author. That’ll happen in its own time. But because I feel the need to create. And not just create stories. That’s the easy part. But to create stories that people want to read. Stories that keep people coming back. Told in a manner that people can appreciate.
Getting organized has helped me in getting a lot of words written not because I created a spreadsheet or started using scrivener. Rather because I could now see where I wanted to take my writing beyond the story.It’s made me open my eyes and see that I can write a lot more than I ever thought I could if I just got myself organized, sat down, and wrote.
Sure I get distracted by shiny things (like yesterday’s post about a new mouse I’ll be purchasing soon). That’s going to happen. The trick is to try and free yourself of the guilt and know that you have a job to do and you need to get yourself to sit down and actually do it. I also have a job, a kid in volleyball, a wife, friends. I do a lot of other things besides writing, but I make time to get the words out.
I’ve organized myself so that when I sit down to write, it’s as simple as opening scrivener and BAM! Start typing. I’ve got my notes, my character specs, my plot outline all in one, easy-to-reach place. No more looking through notebooks, folders, files, or even scrolling through the WIP trying to find that name, the color of the dress, or anything like that. I know where it all is and it’s drastically sped up the process.
Sure it took some getting used to. Everything does. But now that I’m five months into 2012, I’ve done a little house cleaning every day to get to where I am and now writing isn’t a chore that I do once in a while. It’s a joy I do every day. Yes, I said a joy not a job. I still treat it like a part-time job insofar as I need to sit every day possible ans write something, but it’s not a labor it once was.
Take a little time to get organized. I’ll go find some pictures of ducks to start posting. Then I’ll write about ducks.