I've been avoiding this ever since turning to the first page of the new calendar. We're now at the halfway point of the month. Not once have I nagged you about spending time cleaning out your writing work area and your computer files. So why now? Mostly because I need to listen to what I am about to tell you. I need that tiny nudge--or a bop over the head--to get started in my own writing place.
Let's face it. things have a tendency to pile up when we're busy with our writing, our family life, social life and taking care of our home. I have a home office which is the best of all worlds because I can walk out to the other part of my home with the thought that I really must get some straightening and organizing done in the office but I don't have to look at it constantly. You know what happens to good intentions. Once a year, though, I do make a concerted effort to sort out my writing life. When it's done, I feel like I've truly accomplished something and I wonder why I don't do it more often. Oh sure, I dust and vaccum in here on a regular basis. OK, I vacuum in here regularly and dust when I finally can't stand it anymore. I dust the rest of the house far more often than in my little sanctuary.
There's a good reason to clean out the files on your computer or those file drawers in your desk. I often discover little nuggets of gold--pieces I'd started and never finished because I got frustrated or moved on to a more interesting project or just plain didn't have time and then forgot about it. When I find a partially finished piece of writing, I'm often inspired to get moving on it again. But I set it aside until the rest of the cleaning process is done. There are lots of little surprises during the cleaning out process.
Here's a list of things you can do to organize your work area and your writing life. Don't try to do it all at one time. Work your way down the list over several days. Believe me, the stuff isn't going to disappear. It waits for you just like those crusty casserole dishes you let soak overnight before you scrub them clean. (Want a hint on that little job? Fill the dish or pan with hot soapy water, then put a fabric softener sheet in it and let it soak overnight. Swish it out in the morning and you'll me amazed at how much easier it is to clean. A friend told me she's done it for years but I was skeptical until I tried it.)
1. Bookshelves with books and folders about writing--might take some time to weed this area but you may discover books you want to read again and some you are willing to donate to a local book sale.
2. Computer desk (or wherever you put your computer) Having papers stacked up here is a surefire way to lose something important or overlook it until it's past time for it to be relevant
3. Computer files
A. Put the outdated things on a flashdrive or delete them. Don't let unneeded files take up space you might need later on.
B. Check your Submissions File often as a reminder to yourself as to what you have floating around in cyberspace between you and editors.
C. Go through your address book and delete the ones you no longer need.
D. Run your anti-virus and malware programs--do this on a regular basis, not just once a year
E. Go through finished pieces to see which ones you want to try to market soon
F. Look at stories that have been rejected once or more and see what you might do to revise
4. Paper Piles It is amazing how paper piles up. Much of it is not worth keeping but to be sure, go through it and discard the junk and organize what might be of use to you at some time.
When you've completed all of the above, you're going to feel pretty satisfied. Treat yourself to something you enjoy. Then get to work on your current or next writing project. It's a new year with eleven and a half months ahead to make it your best ever!