I mentioned specifically the Tina book because Jan's post today is about organizing the business of our writing lives. I've learned to do some of these things. Others I'm either working on or have shoved into my Maybe One Day folder.
I may be hopeless in some areas, but Jan keeps trying :)
Want to streamline your writing life? Want to be able to find the papers and files strewn here, there and everywhere?
There are two ways to begin to handle a cluttered work space. You can set aside a large chunk of time to get going, or if you know you won't want to work that long, try for about twenty-minutes every day until you're finished.
First, look around the area where you work. Is it a mess? Many people claim that creative people thrive in a mess. Frankly, I don't think anyone actually thrives in chaos. I think instead, they believe it will be too hard to get it cleaned up and keep it neat and tidy.
But it’s really not that difficult. Let’s start with the cleaning up. You need a box and a trash bag. Label the box “donate.” Look around the area and quickly throw anything away that is actual trash into the bag. Then look for anything else you never use, know you'll never use, and/or downright dislike. Decide whether to donate or trash it. Whether you realize it or not, these items are a distraction to you when you're working.
Take out the trash, and put the donate box in your car. The next time you’re out, drop it off so you won't be tempted to retrieve something later.
Get two more boxes, or three if you have a lot of paper to sort. Then pick up each object still standing. Do you need and want to keep it nearby? Put it in a box labeled “Keep.” Do you doubt you’ll ever use it again, but are not sure? Stick it in the other box which you label with a date six months from now. Keep a running list of the objects you put in that box as you go. If you have stacks and stacks of disorganized paper, place them in the third box, labeled “Paper.”
When you're finished, seal up the box with the date on it, and hide it away somewhere. Put the list in a place you'll be able to find easily if you really, really need to retrieve something from that box before the six months are up. If you haven't gone near it in six month or only retrieved one or two items, donate it or throw it away without opening it.
Place the other objects you’re keeping around the area again and get rid of the box. Now you’re ready to tackle all that paper.
Have a large, clear space to make piles. Probably you have the beginnings of books or short stories—pile them up together. Put articles, if you keep paper copies of those you've written, in another stack. Maybe you have articles written by other people about marketing you've clipped or printed out. Separate pile. You probably have collected business cards and pieces of paper with contact information on them. Set them aside to work on another time. What else have you been collecting? Household items like recipes, bills, coupons, receipts? Separate pile for all of this. Don’t try to sort inside the piles until you've finished with all the paper. The reason for this is because you need to know what type of things are in there so you can divide them up reasonably.
When done, pat yourself on the back. Now pick a pile. Use file folders for the short stories, and notebooks or manuscript boxes for the novels. Then decide where to keep them. If possible, I recommend as many file drawers as you need just for your writing, keeping them separate from your household files.
Do the same for the marketing pile. I use a big three-ring binder for all the marketing information I've gathered. Tabs separate articles about Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Blogging, Kindle, and on and on. Now you'll be able to find just what you're looking for. And know just where to put the next item you decide to keep.
Do the same for any other categories, figuring out whether to use file folders or notebooks—whatever you think will work for you, or, as I do, use a combination of both.
Every day before you leave your work area, clean it up. Have an in box set up to place current projects in, but file and put away everything else you've pulled out for the day. This should take no more than five or ten minutes.
If you use your workspace for home office chores, set aside some time every day to handle the mail and other things you need to do like getting birthday cards and bill payments ready to mail, filing away receipts, and anything else. When you come back for your next work session, you will be able to start right in without pause, without distractions. It’s a good feeling.
Someone screams inside the old, neglected Victorian house next door, and Tina Shaw runs to find out what’s wrong. A woman bursts out the door saying her aunt is dead. Murdered. Tina notices that the hallway is piled high with cartons. Later when the woman begs her to help clean up the house, Tina hesitates. She’s just begun a career as a professional organizer, though, and her hands itch to start on a new job. As Tina sifts through the clutter, she finds clues the murdered woman left behind. She learns the woman was rich, and all her relatives are suspects. But when the will is read, Tina and her family also become suspects. After her mother is arrested, Tina begins investigating in earnest with the help of her boyfriend, Hank (the Hunk). Will she find out who the killer is before her own life is put in danger? Second in the Tina Tales series.