Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Clean Up Your Writing World

It's nearly the end of the year which many of us use to clean out files and drawers, closets and desks. Others wait until January makes its appearance to take on those cleaning chores. Whichever time you choose to do it, there's one more place in your life that needs tidying up. If you're a writer, that is.

In my kitchen, I sort out, rearrange and toss out things I use in my everyday cooking. In my closet, I organize some of my clothes and shoes and toss out others. The pile for the Thrift Shop I donate to grows ever bigger. My writing life needs some of the same, and I imagine yours does, as well. Hey--it's human nature to let things pile up. We all do it.

Here's a list of things you can do to organize your writing life.

1. Go through My Documents files in your computer and see which ones can be eliminated. Delete like crazy. Keep the important ones that might be of use to you for a reprint sale. Get rid of the ones you know are going nowhere. You might want to make a hard copy before you delete, keep them in a folder and mark it To Be Worked On.

2.Look over your marketing log for 2010. Try to use an objective eye. Did you send something out at least every month? How many sales did you make versus the number of submissions? If you're happy with the numbers, keep doing the same thing. If you're not, it's time to make an assessment of your marketing plan. Do you even have a plan? Or is it an As-the-mood-hits kind of thing? This is a big item in organizing your writing life.

3.  Get your income and expense records in order. Time for filing tax returns is not far away. It will make life much easier if you've kept good records all year. If not, you're going to spend a lot of precious writing time working on this.

4. Do you have a pile of writing-related stuff on your computer desk, bookcase, floor or some other part of your office? Or all of the above? Attack them one at a time and save what's worthwhile. Dump the rest.

5.  Have you started a notebook of hard copies of all of your writing? Computers crash, lose things mysteriously, so it's nice to have a back-up if a technological disaster occurs.It's also nice for your family to have those notebooks filled with your words that can be kept and passed on in your family for generations to come. (That may be wishful thinking on my part, but I still think it's a good idea!)

6.  It doesn't hurt to get your computer running in top-notch condition either. It's going to make your writing life run far more smoothly. Nothing worse than being in the middle of a story and your computer suddenly has a temper tantrum or runs so slowly, you want to pound on it in frustration.

Once you've accomplished the above (and please don't try to do it all in one day), you can give your attention to writing something new, something very 2011, something you'll be proud to submit to a selected editor. Besides which, you'll enjoy working in an organized, cleaned-up writing world.


  1. Excellent tips. I agree about the backing up. It is the only thing that saved my sanity when my computer died in early December.

  2. It's stuff we all should know, but knowing and doing are sometimes different things.

  3. This is a chore I plan to tackle on my next day off. Good advice.