Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Organization and My Thoughts on The Writing Life

Organization is a big part of having a productive writing career and one part of my writing life that needs a major overhaul. I think I may need professional help.

 I sit going through tons of emails and look up at the clock to see that time has wasted. I sort the organized piles accumulating on my desk and again time slowly eased away. I consciously make a list of the things I need to do today and the phone rings. Delayed again.

Finally, ready to at least get my blogs up to date, I scan the Internet for a quote and find a link to a site that just might offer a program to organize my writing on my PC. Surely this is not a time waster?  Or is it?

Does any of this sound familiar or am I the only one trying to organize a writing life along with keeping up with a paying writing gig, a full time job, and family time? So how does a professional freelance writer stay organized while maintaining a full time job and a relationship with the family? Here are some ideas that I am trying for 2012. Maybe there is a tip or two that might help you focus too.

·        Limiting my social media time to 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day. Limiting time on social media networks will keep my name out there but in a more focused way. I am going to limit the time to promoting other authors whom I am friends, on promoting my books and theirs, and on making comments on the sites of those writer’s groups that I am an active member. If I have time to comment on family and personal friends within that time frame, I can, but the focus is to work towards increasing my presence as an author.

·        I have a supportive husband who purchased a leather desk calendar for me. I am going to use it. It has lines for everyday and here I can write the tasks I need to accomplish each day with an estimated time frame. It is handy, very visible, and I can tackle the tasks in an orderly fashion. I’ll let you know how this works for me,  but feel free to tell me your ideas on what keeps you organized.

·        I am going to group like tasks together. I tend to be scattered but if I list like tasks together I am hoping to be more productive with each period of time I have. Blog entries on Monday, articles on Tuesday, E-book manuscript on Wednesday, and so on. Mondays will be blog days and I can preschedule all the posts for the rest of the week. Done. Tuesday is open to do the article. Done.( Wednesday mornings reserved for visiting my mom since she says she doesn't remember what I look like because I am always on my comuter.)  I am going to track my productivity this month with my new process and see if this can help me focus. How do you schedule your writing time?

·        A writer friend suggested to me once that an egg timer may be helpful. I was using it for a few days and it helped but then life got in the way and the habit wasn’t well enough established to stick with me. I am going to try it again. Anyone have luck using this method?

·        The piles, oh it always seems that there are piles. Piles of research books, books to review, folders with notes, and a scrap pad with emails, websites I want to explore, and other important tidbits that are scribbled onto the page. I am going to review them at the end of my writing time, no more than 15 minutes, and then file, toss, or record in my contact list. I am hoping that this will reduce the piles... only time will tell with this one.

·        Finally, the one thing that I need to do is to learn to say NO or a polite NO Thank you to the things that are not my passion or do not advance my writing focus. There are always going to be some things that cannot be avoided like making dinner, showering, and going to my job. But I have taken on many a volunteer job with the intention of improving my craft and advancing my writing contacts. Many times this has been very beneficial and I am grateful for the opportunity, but I need to look at a few of these tasks and ask myself if they are still working for my list of goals or am I advancing others at the expense of not getting to first base myself? Do any of you relate? While promoting each other is of utmost importance, there is that old saying that comes to mind..."always the bridesmaid, never the bride". If I want to be an expert and a respected published author, don't I need to write and submit?  

I think all writers can benefit from evaluating their process at the beginning of a New Year. Ask yourself if after three weeks into January are you doing anything differently than last year or are you falling into the same old routine? It may be time to shake it up a bit and that may actually help your organize and focus your writing.

Look out world; I am ready to shake it up… anyone coming?

Terri Forehand
Author of The Cancer Prayer Book (


Karin Larson said...

I certainly need an overhaul as well, Terri! Good luck with your organization. I'm going to strive to do the same.


Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great suggestions Terri. I've been working on saying "no". I've identified the top 5 priorities in my life and if something takes me away from one of them, I say no. It's really helping.

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for the great and timely post, Terri. I can certainly relate but I admit this year I'm much more focused and so far it is going great.


*I am following Suzanne's advice and writing my 3 major goals every single morning on the spiral notebook. Then I write the actions I will be taking that day.

*I don't do anything else UNTIL I have worked 2 hours on my novel (my major goal this year). That includes switching OFF the internet. :-)

*The rest of the day, I'll take care of other smaller actions for my other goals.

*I meditate twice a day (even if 10 mins at a time). I have been meditating since last October to reduce my "writer's anxiety" and it has been amazingly helpful.

This system is really working for me. I sometimes use the egg timer at and I like it!


Martha said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing

Karen Cioffi said...

Terri, great post. I think most of us writers struggle with time; I sure do.

Mayra, great pointers. I especially like the idea of starting the day with working on my WIP before anything else. Most of us know that once we start with emails, social networking, group, etc our day is gone.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Heidiwriter said...

I keep telling myself I have to get better organized so I can write my books faster, while doing my editing work and other life issues. The internet and social media really does take a lot of time, but at least some of it is necessary.

Magdalena Ball said...

Good tips. Saying no is an ongoing issue with me, and something that makes a huge difference. I also like Mayra's tip on starting the day with the main goals. That not only gets them done before everything else takes over but gives them a kind of priority in your mind which is critical.

T. Forehand said...

I love all of your additional tips. It makes me feel better that others struggle with time issues and saying no. Love this group for the encouragement.


Anonymous said...

I'm down with shaking it up! Great post and tips...looking forward to more!

And yes---as I read the opening, I swear I thought you were looking over my shoulder, lol!

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