By LaToya Gay
As a writer, it’s possible (and maybe even likely) that you aren’t very organized when it comes to your craft. We’ve all experienced inspiration at the most inopportune moments. We can sit for hours staring at a blank screen or page with nary a clue how to proceed with our stories. Then, out of nowhere, inspiration strikes while we’re driving, taking a shower, or walking the dog. It seems to happen anywhere except in a convenient place to write.
When the muse strikes, we tend to scribble haphazardly on whatever is within reach, whether a dinner napkin, a random piece of mail, or the back of our hands. Although we don’t doubt the utter brilliance of our idea, it’s easy to put the note aside and forget about it, confident that it won’t get lost since we’ve written it down.
How often have you stumbled upon a hastily scrawled note and struggled to read it or recall the story to which it belongs? Perhaps the paper said something like: “Figure out how to dispose of a body from the twenty-third floor of the office building” or “If he’s actually undercover, does that fix everything or worsen the situation?”
Fortunately, many of us writers are so woefully unorganized that the business world has taken pity and invented some solutions to bring order to the chaos of our creative processes.
Keep a Journal
If you don’t already keep an idea journal, this simple practice will change your life as a writer. Recording bits of dialogue, story concepts, and other bursts of creative genius in one place will help you keep track of your storylines, ensuring that you don’t misplace your best plot points.
If you choose a paper journal, make sure it is small and lightweight enough to travel with you all the time. Leaving it in the car or house defeats the purpose of the journal, so you’ll need to form a habit of carrying it with you.
Moleskine notebooks, though pricey, are available in a wide variety of sizes, so you can find one that fits in your pocket or bag. Their sturdy construction prevents them from falling to pieces through constant use.
If you opt for a digital journal, apps such as Thinkery allow you to quickly log notes about your writing. Since most of us keep our smartphones handy at all times, this method means you won’t have to tote any extra items along.
Make Your Data Accessible
Having portions of your work stashed in different locations can be frustrating. You also waste valuable time searching for the piece you want to work on. Storing all of your background information, research, and in-progress manuscripts in one location will improve your writing process immensely.
With an application like Evernote, you can organize all of your writing in a single location, but still access your data from any device. You can create a notebook for each project and save everything from rough drafts to research links in an easy-to-navigate interface. You can even configure files to be viewable and modifiable offline.
If you enjoy working in various locations, at least one of your preferred writing spots probably requires you to connect to public Wi-Fi, so you’ll need to protect your computer and your writing from online threats. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) service can protect all of your devices, which will work great with cross-platform storage applications.
Manage Your Time
One of the hardest parts of writing can be to develop the habit of writing regularly. An app such as Streaks will send you reminders to write at whatever intervals you decide. As a bonus, the app monitors your consistency at completing the task and encourages you to keep your streak alive by not missing any scheduled writing sessions. It’s an effective and simple way to organize and increase your writing time.
For many writers, organization takes a backseat to the creative aspects of the craft. However, once you see how these organizational tools can improve your writing and save you time, you’ll wonder how you ever wrote a word without them. If you apply these techniques, you’ll realize an organized writer is a happy writer.
What do you use to organize your thoughts? Have you tried any of the tools or strategies listed above? Please leave a comment below.
LaToya is a freelance writer and blogger who is proud to combine her two greatest loves: writing and technology. She is also interested in using new technologies to make writing easier and help other writers perfect their craft.