Getting organized can be a challenge for some people. For me personally, organization is like a lifeline. I’m not just talking about my writing space being free from clutter or knowing where the notebook I was scribbling in yesterday is located. Organization is bigger than that. It’s your daily routine as well. Having a pen handy. A planner. And so much more…
I’ve waited to write this post until it’s back-to-school time. Why? Because as much as I love office supplies (and I do, a lot), I love them even more, when I can snag them on sale. I’m going to give you a short list of all the items I use on a daily basis to keep me organized. You may or may not use all these things but when you’re creating a list of your own, think about what you need to make life a little easier.
- A planner – I use it for many things. I track my word count daily, weekly and by each book. I have important dates like editing and release days in there. Any type of social media event I commit to is in there. I even leave myself reminds weeks ahead of time. Why not use my phone for that? Because I can shut that reminder off and forget about it. If it’s written down I have to look at it over and over again. I may still forget, but I get an A for effort.
- Post-it Notes – I’m always jotting something down. The name of a cover designer I want to check out, book titles I might want to use, giveaway winners, etc. There’s always something I need to write down before I forget it. I also stick all my notes to my wall so they’re right in front of my face until I take the information and put it in a better place. Like a notepad…
- Notepad/notebook – I have about six on my desk right now. One is specifically for the webinars I’ve been watching so I can keep all the information together. I have one for character names. Yes, my list is long and growing. I have one that I keep all the information for these blog posts in so when I think of something to add, I don’t lose my ideas. No matter how many you have or how you use them, my one rule is to never throw them away. You may need something you’ve written down later on.
- Pen/Markers – I have certain pens I like to write with. I think they make my handwriting look prettier. I’m sure you’re the same so stock up. Grab an empty coffee mug or mason jar, stock it with pens, and leave it on your desktop. If you have kids, put a note on the outside threatening their lives if they touch your special pens. It sounds extreme, I know, but if you have children, you know how much they’re drawn not only to your things but to things that are shiny and new. Pen disappear around here a lot, just not my special ones. After you’ve stocked up on pens, grab the big variety pack of sharpies. I prefer the fine tipped ones, but it’s up to you. You’ll want these to sign paperback when you send them out and at signings. Plus, more pretty things to write with. Put them in a jar next to your favorite pens with another sign that warns of death.
Those are my necessities. My office has all the basics of course – scissors, stapler, tape, etc. Things I only use rarely but it’s an office so… where else am I going to keep them?
On my walls I have two large boards. One is a cork board. When I start a new book, I pin important details and facts on the board. Things I’ll need to know later. All I have to do is look at the board and there’s my information. Keep in mind, I’m a pantser so that’s as good as it gets to planning out my novels.
I also have a chalkboard. My ‘business’ board. This is used to keep me on track for the year. I have my 4 goals, the titles of the books I’m releasing this year and my top priorities listed. Once I hit a goal or publish a book, I check it off the appropriate list.
This is going to be very different depending on your situation so I’m going to give you a few different scenarios. The point is to find what works for you and dedicate that time to your books.
Scenario 1 – working 9-5pm
If this were me, I’d be up at 5:30/6 am. I’d get that first cup of coffee and sit down in my chair. If the muses are talking, go with it. Write for an hour or if you don’t care what your hair looks like, two hours. (I’m a ponytail kind of girl so I’d probably push it.) When you shut down the computer to get ready for work, jot down all the ideas in your head real quick (notebook).
When you get home from work, make sure you give yourself time to unwind, eat, relax, spend time with family if applicable. Then, before you go to bed, jump back in the office for an hour and finish those thoughts from earlier. Make yourself notes for the morning and repeat.
Now, notice I didn’t mention social media or marketing AT ALL? That’s because this can’t be an everyday scenario. You have to stay visual and engage with authors and readers. This would be my routine 3 days a week, switching out my mornings the other two days for social media and marketing. Why only two days? Check out my post on social media management to find out.
Scenario 2 – working 10-6
This is close to what I used to work so I can speak to this from experience. I’d wake up at 7 and jump right into marketing and social media management a few days a week. Lots of hours and coffee later, I’d shut down and get ready for work. Usually, I’d focus on marketing one day and social media one day. I’d dedicate another day to miscellaneous tasks like creating newsletters and forms, etc. I’d group things together so it didn’t feel like I was jumping around so much.
When I’d get home, I’d focus on my family until at least nine. Once the kiddo was in bed, I’d jump back in my office and attempt to write. This didn’t work for me. My brain was fried at this point and all I wanted was sleep. With the scenario above, I ended up writing in the mornings four days a week, two of those days being my days off where I could write until my heart content.
Scenario 3 – working at night
This is me right now. It’s working better for my writing schedule but it sucks for family time. I wake up about 7 every day, focus on marketing and SMM (social media management) for two hours (I time myself) and then I write until noon. Because my son is home, I take a break and we eat lunch together, pick the house up and then I sit back down about two and write for a few more hours. I’m getting a lot done, but I hate my job so my afternoon session isn’t as productive because I know I’m going to have to leave for work eventually.
The point of sharing these three scenarios is to show you that everyone’s facing different obstacles. Whatever you work outside the home, or even if you don’t, the point is to plan your time, make yourself a writing schedule, and stick to it. If it’s not working for you, tweak it. After a few weeks, you’ll fall into your routine.
More to come on getting organized and staying that way. Stay tuned.