During my years in publishing, I
have been through many different changes. At times, I've been a pack rat saving
all sorts of things gathered in piles in my office. I've interviewed more than
150 authors and saved interview tapes. I've written many books and saved various
versions of the manuscript and all sorts of things—many of them unnecessary.
There is a basic principle that I've learned: the more chaotic my working
space—the less productive I become. The chaos weighs on my writing.
When we move, this situation
often helps me. Especially when you use a moving van and pay for the weight, it
makes you review everything to see if it comes with you or you give it away or
toss it. Especially when we moved from eight years in Arizona a while back, I
tossed a lot of things I was keeping. Over the years I kept complete magazines
of the different articles I had written. That amounted to boxes of magazines. In
some ways, I wish I had taken the time to scan those articles (which I didn't)
so they got tossed. But to be honest, I don't need those articles.
These days I'm much better
organized in my office space and also electronically. I've discovered the
increased organization has a number of benefits:
1. You are in touch with your
priorities and meeting deadlines (large and small one). The majority of writers
miss their deadlines. I've been the editor they call for extensions with their
excuses. In book publishing when you set a deadline for a contract, it sets off
a chain of events inside the publishing house that writers never see—but are
critical to the success of the book and its release. When you ask for additional
time, you disrupt that schedule—and unknowingly affect the sales of your book
(which you will not know or experience until months later). It's not a wise step
to extend your deadline and instead set realistic ones you can achieve from the
beginning. Again it harkens back to organization—the theme of this
2. You can easily find projects
and pieces of paper and bits of information. As an editor and writer, you would
be surprised at the random emails and phone calls I get from my colleagues
asking about some book or author. If I am organized, then I can often give a
quick answer. If I am not organized, then I have to take time to dig for it
(which could consume a lot of time).
3. You take a few minutes here
and there to keep things organized and you will be much more productive and
accomplish more in a single day than in the disorganization.
It is not easy to be organized in
my view and takes continual effort and work—but the payoff is worth it. I have
much more work to be done in this area but my encouragement to you with your
writing life is to continue to this organizational effort. Once everything gets
organized an in place, it takes continued vigilance and maintenance to keep it
that way. If you ignore it, the piles of paper and disorganization tends to grow
and get out of control again—or so has been my experience.
How does organization play into
your writing life? What tips can you give us? Let me know in the comments
Labels: books, deadlines, magazine, organization, organize, productive, publishing, Terry Whalin, writer, writing