Monday, February 4, 2013

How Do You Organize Your Writing?

Every author organizes their writing a little bit differently. Some can only work on a completely clean desk and use sharp pencils and separate every chapter into a different file. Others curl up with a pen and a spiral-bound notebook and scribble away with cats sleeping on their feet. Some write down daily word counts or chart out their time spent. Others just go with the flow and finish the book whenever it's finished. Some set goals, and others are more flexible. What kind are you?

I'll tell you what kind I am ... I'm all of the above. And you might be too.

There are several different factors that play into how I organize. The first factor is the nature of the project itself. Some projects need a lot of planning, like a historical fiction novel. You need to know when all the battles took place and just when George Washington gave that impassioned speech so you can work it in properly. You need to research the clothes and the food and the social rituals of the time. But other projects, like a contemporary comedy, might be best written in a more laid-back way.

Another factor, at least for me, is my life and what's going on in it at the time. If I'm super busy, I tend to track things out more because I know that I'll have limited time to work and I want to be productive. I'll jot down notes of upcoming scenes so I don't forget them, and then I'll set time limits or goals to try to reach my self-imposed deadlines.

There really is no right or wrong way to write. You can be as messy or as organized as you want, or any combination of the above. You might have a notebook for each work in progress where you write down every thought that came to you while you were in the process--whatever works for you. That's the ticket right there--finding out what works for you, and for that project. And if you discover that New York Times Bestelling Author Amazing Dude's system doesn't work for you, don't beat yourself up over it. That's his system, and you can find yours.


Pam Williams said...

I love being able to look up things on the internet by just flipping from my document to the vast wide world of finding out anything in almost an instant. Sometimes you don't need to do vast amounts of research--just enough to fill in, or fill out, a detail that enriches the story and makes it feel more authentic.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I like having lots of options. It hurts to write much by hand, so I have my PC, a laptop, and my iPad with a keyboard to make it easier.

Stan said...

As a starting writer with only one essay published in a book and one more accepted for publication I am still learning the best way to write. Most of my writing is in response to a contest, blog, or request for a manuscript. I did get my first check for $2.25. Small, but a start. I end up with multiple projects started, but I am working towards a more organized method of staying on top of individual projects. I don't feel that I have developed my voice yet, but hopefully my writing is getting better.