If I ever had to name the one thing that really trips my stress trigger, it would be disorganization! I cannot abide it in my life–personally or professionally. As a writer, organization is the thing that keeps me sane–especially with all those characters chit-chatting in my head. If I constantly panicked about the who, what, when, where and how details of each manuscript I work on, I’d be a stressed-out lunatic.
Orderliness is the thing that allows me to effortlessly move from one story to the next with relatively little effort–even one profession to the next with only slight effort. Now that I have taken on a managing editor’s position at Entangled Publishing, LLC, in addition to writing, I must be organized.
So what is being organized all about? It’s not necessarily a “pretty” state of being. It could “look” very messy. I know a number of people (you know who you are) who delude themselves that they are organized just because their desks (homes, yards, offices, classrooms, etc.) look clean and neat. But some of these very people couldn’t find an important document or physical implement if their next breath depended upon it. Conversely, I have known writers, teachers and businessmen who appear to have hurricanes regularly blow over their desks, and if you were to ask them to give you something, they could reach for a drawer or a file and could pull it out immediately.
So, who’s organized? I’ll tell you. It’s the person with the system! System? Yeah, system–a predetermined method of dealing with the business of your life, profession, paperwork, etc. An organizational system in a writer’s life is everything! Got a story idea? It goes into a special folder on the computer. Did the research for an interesting place to set a novel? It goes in a particular notebook. Received a revision letter for a manuscript you want to work on next month? Put it in the file you have already set up in your desk drawer. You get the picture. Establish your system according to your needs–your life–your profession. Everyone’s system should be different. What works for me may–no, will–not work for you!
Whether it be physical, virtual or another system, consider yourself alone when establishing your methods for handling the clutter of your life. Purchase the physical or virtual accoutrements to enable you to implement your plan of attack. Spend time setting up and naming your files, folders and boxes in order to have places to drop things when you need to file. And then attack. Do not allow your system to fall victim to apathy.
Finally, be flexible. If your system needs to be modified or improved, do it! Don’t allow something that’s not working for you to remain in place. It’s your system. It’s your stress. It’s your life.
Ultimately, my system allows me to write, work in publishing and handle all the other aspects of busy living in today’s fast-paced, get-it-done-yesterday world. And I can do it all with my eyes closed…well, not exactly with my eyes closed.