Getting the Writing Mess Organized

I’m not quite OCD enough to arrange my books by color…but it is pretty.

Like everybody else, I lead a busy life and I’ve decided it’s time to simplify. That means getting organized. There is no doubt that writing is the messy part of my existence. 

Organizing is simple in theory. I don’t print anything until it’s time to edit and those get recycled when that step is completed. The digital archiving, filing and organizing is another matter. I’ve tried several methods and keep reverting to old practices.

Why not embrace the default?

There’s a six inch pile of papers on my sideboard that all contain notes, ideas, suggestions, and editorial changes for Frankenscript. Polishing continues on the tome-which-will-not-be-named. If you’ve been around a while, you know this manuscript has been ripped apart, sewn back together, tossed in the trash, retrieved from the burn pile, and continually fussed with. People have advised me to shove it under the bed where all lousy manuscripts go. I can’t. It’s getting crowded under there. Besides, I’ve learned a ton about the mechanics of plotting and structure from tinkering with Frankenscript and so I keep molding it into shape in the vain hope that one day it’ll be a real boy.

In that sense, organizing is a challenge. I can’t get rid of any of that stuff until I KNOW I’m done with it…and I’m not. Almost, but not yet.

There’s organizational movement in other areas. I finally crossed the plateau where I’ve been stumbling around in circles and figured out how to draw a cluster of unrelated stories into a series. Two anthologies in fact. I’ve got a lot of material waiting to send out to magazines  but the process is so slooow. Considering how long it takes to prep, research, and market for a single magazine entry, especially compared to arranging the content into a book and self-pubbing – again, I have to ask myself why I’m struggling against what feels like a natural default setting?

The writing bits squatting on the desks of submission editors, waiting for “just the right” mix of stories drag down my hopes that traditional publishing is going to get its collective shit together any time soon. If a magazine which relies on monthly readership can’t get their behinds in gear, then the slow machinery of the Big Six may never grasp the need to get with the new times. *stepping off the soapbox*

I’ve a meeting scheduled for editorial evaluation which I hope develops into a working relationship. We’ll see. I’m not sure what to expect from the meeting but I’ve decided I need an editor with bona fides. Don’t ask me what that means, I don’t know. The critique group I’ve been participating in since last autumn is going on hiatus for a while. I’ve enjoyed the process but need more intensive reaction-response…bring on the beta-readers! This may seem unrelated to organization but it’s not.

Writing may be a solitary pursuit but the business of writing is a team event. I hate team sports. That adage – there is no I in team – demonstrates why I am not a team player. I don’t like delegating but the reality is that I need input from people more knowledgeable than myself when it comes to determining what I want to do with all the stories and novels I’ve written. It’s been fun writing and playing and creating but now I feel compelled to do something with all these words.

Some writers never publish – the process of creation is satisfying enough. I don’t think I’m one of those. I like to know people enjoyed reading what I wrote…so getting it to them seems a logical next step. When did you reach the turning point? What made you decide to send your work out or pack it in? What exactly are bona fides? Tell me!

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  1. #1 by Traci Kenworth on April 17, 2012 - 4:15 am

    I’m working on getting organized again. Although, I do like the looks of the bookshelves with their pretty colors, definitely would take a LONG time to do that. Lol.

    • #2 by Leslie on April 17, 2012 - 9:25 pm

      I like being organized and always feel like it makes me more productive, but then I start stacking books and papers and pretty soon the desk area looks like a pulp bomb exploded!

  2. #3 by Matt Phillips on April 18, 2012 - 1:55 am

    Good luck with the organising! I’ve been doing the same thing lately, trying to shuffle all of my files into some semblance of an order. It’s fairly painful, and at the end of it all I wonder if I have achieved anything (other than now having all my drafts indexed in a slightly different way). I too don’t print until edit stage, but I struggle with recycling the chunk of paper afterwards – it feels like it’s a stage in the evolution of the story and I end up wanting to hang on to it (even after realising it still needs a loooottt of work…). I enjoyed your post :-).

    • #4 by Leslie on April 18, 2012 - 10:12 pm

      Thanks Matt! The organizing bug really gets to me. I can live in squalor for only so long and then the world screeches to a halt until it’s all rearranged and made neat again. Like you I wonder what greater purpose it serves but at the time it feels so essential! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck with letting go of the chunks. I understand that all too well. =)

  3. #5 by Bridgette Booth on April 19, 2012 - 9:51 am

    Interesting question, Leslie. What is my tipping point between creating and product . . . not sure when it happened, but is a point when I got frustrated with incomplete projects and almost-done’s. I want closure on this stage of my fiction career. I want to move into a fiction writer with multiple projects behind me instead of in front of me. Like you, I want to get organized! 🙂

    • #6 by Leslie on April 19, 2012 - 12:03 pm

      Well said! Now if I could just figure out a process that works long-term.

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