ORGANIZATION AND THE WRITING PROCESS
Hullo, All, and welcome!
When designing a house, the first thing you draw are the walls—the layout. What room is next to what other rooms? What rooms are connected? Bathroom off the master suite? Jack and Jill bath between the kids’ rooms? What about the dining room between the living room and the kitchen? And I won’t even get into square footage! Which, by the way, translates into word count in writing vernacular.
What of the workspace? The tools to design? Information on what to design? My example is a residence, with the assumption that it’s a single family dwelling. How big is the fam? One kid? Two? Six? Do the in-laws / grandparents live with? Details that all have a bearing on the final design.
What of the owner’s preference? Modern? Victorian? Or my dream home, Craftsman?
What constitutes Modern? Victorian? Or my dream home, Craftsman? What of your notes and research…
Research. Notes. For a writer, that’s who’s who in your story? What’s going on in your story? When is your story? And where are all your notes and research?
Organization is a skill that eclipses some of us. Oh, I try, and in my own way, I am organized. Mostly.
The primary thing is to have a grip on the scope of your project or story, and have a system or method to track the minutia of details that comprise any story. I know I’ve spent countless minutes (which has probably translated into hours) hunting for a detail or description that isn’t on the master list of details and descriptions.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the admonition to clear your desk. I try, really I do. But I “nest” and need all my accoutrements at hand. So, everything is. Kind of. Notice my assistants perched in various positions.
I also can’t tell you how many times I scrambled for a note, written on the back of a printed page of my manuscript or an envelope or some other random scrap of paper. Important things, like which book I’m reading and reviewing, and when. Who I’m interviewing next, and did I send them questions yet. What I named that town or school or street. I finally created my Master Calendar and Tracker—an Excel spreadsheet with five tabs—calendar, word count, book sales, contacts (includes passwords and web site URL’s), and contest winners. (I’ve two tabs I no longer use for those of you observant enough to realize there are actually seven tabs!)
I’m aces with my computer files. I got those lined up! Like my lists, I’ve folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders. I’ve master docs for each of my features / functions—NWNF (New Week New Face), reviews, interviews, my own posts, (future) Sunday devotional, and a brand new one, Headline News. The format for each doc and images to share with each post. And master format for my illustrious manuscripts, so they’re ready to upload when it’s time to publish!
What about organizing your time? Oy! Let me say that again: OY! OY! even. This is my greatest weakness. I seem to work better with a deadline pressing down on me. I don’t like working that way, thus my schedules and master docs to aid me in getting things written before the tenth hour.
Back up one step, though. Let’s talk about priorities. What are the priorities in your life? And what consumes your time besides your writing? And where does your writing fit into your day? My day is vastly different to a mom who works outside the home. I am on Disability and have the privilege of being home all day…What other activities take up your time and where does writing / desiging fit in?
My day is also hugely different to a morning person. To this I say, know your own body clock. To those who advocate writing first thing in the morning, kudos to you. I, however, can barely function first thing in the morning
And by the way, “first thing” in the morning for me is somewhere around 9:00 or 10:00. (body clock, remember, don’t hate) After the requisite coffee, I check the email and other (and by other I mean Facebook) messages, I work on other projects because let’s face it, there are a lot. Then the Muse and I get down to it in the afternoon and evening. “It” being the serious writing. Or designing.
Then there is the dreaded deadline. What is the time frame for your project? For instance, I had originally set Cissy to release in June of this year, but after my surgery and the subsequent recovery, I pushed the date back to September. (The advantage of being Indie. Also the disadvantage of being Indie.) But my point is, how much do I need to accomplish each day, how many words to complete my story? What is the anticipated final word count? Based on my first two novels, I’m looking at 120K – 130K words. (I know, I know, that’s a LOT!) (think big house!) Now, and this involves some math (sorry wordsters) how many days until release? Wait a minute, though! I can’t write all the way to release day. I have to give time for my editor to edit, time for the printer to print, and time for the shipment to, well, ship.
My release date is 30 September. That’s five months away. Two weeks for the first shipment of books to arrive, and I’m mid-September. Allow a few weeks for my editor to do her stellar job, and for me to either make her offered changes, or not, and I’m up to early August. That leaves me roughly ninety days. I’m 20K+ words in already, with approximately 100K to go. That’s just over 1000 words per day. (nice how easy that math turned out) But what of the days I don’t hit 1000 words? Or any words? Yes, there are days I don’t write. I’ve also hit 5K in a day on occasion. Not sustainable on a daily basis, especially every.single.day, but I have done it. If I set my goal at 2000 or 3000 words per day that’s doable, I’ll be well ahead of my deadline, and could even get it to my editor early!
Or, I could languish with a few hundred per day, or let days slip by with no words, and have the bulk or writing still staring at me a month from now. I’m not gonna, but it could happen.
So arm yourselves with paint samples and fabric swatches, make sure they’re in nice, neat little bins. See if the inspector (editor) gives the green light to your project. And present your design to your client, the reader!
And now, I’ve a story world to return to and some words to make. This house— Cissy — is not going to build herself!
“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”
Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.
Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016. Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.
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