Sunday, December 03, 2017

Five Ways to Organize Your Writing

Over my writing life, I've written in many cluttered and noisy places—but it is not my preference or where I do my best creative work. For example, with my journalism training, I have written in busy noise editorial offices where everyone is pounding on their own keyboard right next to each other. The distractions are incredible in these situations. Some of my friends haul their laptop to a coffee shop and write.

I've discovered I do some of my best creative work when my environment is organized. Yes some writers use organization as a method of procrastination. They sharpen their pencils and other such tasks to put off getting their hands on the keyboard and writing words. If I take time to get organized, I've discovered my writing is more focused and less distracted and I become more productive.

1. Clarify your current goals. What are you attempting to write and how are you moving forward to accomplishing those goals? If you aim at nothing, you will be certain to hit it. Take a few minutes to write down and clarify what you are trying to accomplish then plan the steps to get that done. Maybe you need to set a specific amount of words you are going to write every day on a project so it gets moving ahead. Or maybe you need to create a little chart of your word count game plan then cross it off with each accomplishment. Organizing your goals and plans then moving ahead is a key part of the process. Use this link to get a more detailed handout from a workshop I teach. 

2. Reduce clutter in your office. Over the years, I've written more than 800 reviews on Amazon. This link is my public Amazon profile. Several times a day, I will receive emails from people who want me to read their book and write a review. Also in the mail, I get Advanced Reader Copies and review copies of books that authors and publishers want me to read and write reviews. In the last few months, the books have poured into my office and are currently overflowing my bookshelves and becoming clutter and somewhat chaos. I sort through the books and get my reading plans organized.

3. Expand your network and opportunities. Do you have unanswered email? Or phone calls that you have not returned? Instead of seeing it as a burden, you can view these emails and phone calls as an expansion of your network and new opportunities. It is often through the follow-up and follow-through that things will happen for you. I encourage you to continue meeting new people and expanding your writing network.
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4. Carry out what you've promised. One of the keys in the writing life is to complete what you've promised to complete. I have incomplete manuscripts and proposals and projects which have not been finished. An old proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The good news is you can pick up projects which you didn't finish, make a new effort and get them done.

5. Look at new directions for your writing. Every writer needs to continually work at diversifying your income. Whatever is working now for you, may not be working in six months or a year. I've learned the hard way to create different income streams. Then when one slows or stops, you are not in a panic but able to quickly transition to something else. 

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Several years ago, I interviewed Robert W. Bly (Bob Bly) who has created an active online information business.  I encourage you to listen to this free interview (follow the link or click the image) and download the free Ebook, then take action to read and begin to create your own products. Or maybe your writing is headed in a different direction. Create and execute your game plan for this direction.

OK, there you have my five ways to organize your writing. Let me know in the comments, the action steps you are taking for your writing life. Maybe you have other ideas for us. I look forward to seeing them.


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