♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What tools do you use to organize your writing life? Keep track
of deadlines, blog appearances, guests appearing on your blog, etc.?
What have you tried that didn’t work for you but might
work for someone else?
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! If you’re new to the series, the authors included are grateful for your reads and appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Be prepared to become a regular reader.
Let me tell you, organization is something that I learned was necessary long ago, and it has thus become second nature to me. I apologize ahead of time if I don’t walk you through all the steps I take verbatim. There simply isn’t going to be a complete list. Hopefully what I do have to share will be of some use to you. Remember, however, that nothing is one size fits all. You’re going to have to make your own list, probably from the bibs-and-bobs of other lists. And, that is fine. That is what you should do. Don’t break yourself trying to reinvent the wheel. (I learned that in a training about training—see how things are intertextual?)
First and foremost, have a plan. You don’t need a complete plan. What you need is where you are and where you plan on ending up. The rest you will fill in, a lot of it on the fly, as you go. Trust me on that. Every great plan, even ones that are completely filled out, requires flexibility. Shift is going to happen. (I also just learned that saying in the same training mentioned above.)
If you’ve been paying attention to you’ve seen a couple tools already: having a plan (even a minimal one) and be flexible. These mindsets are tools, especially in the creative writing world. The next tool: a way to calendar. A lot of us don’t like deadlines, but they are a reality of the business, whether self-imposed or from outside requirements in the work load. On a blog, you need to plan the month, or even just a week, and consistency does matter. It speaks to your professionalism. For instance, this hop happens every week on Monday at noon. There’s a lot of backstage planning going on. I and other writers come up with topics, which we feed to the coordinator (of which I happen to be one, albeit a pretty absent due to the new baby). The topic for the week is usually placed in our Facebook Group midweek, which cues me to tag it as a topic and pin it to the top. Prior to that the other coordinator has formed the post announcing the topic and gotten us the code to use on our blogs that creates the link up. Then, the authors must write their blogs, and time them to release for Monday by noon. We’re not done there, because we have to show up when the link up opens (at noon) and add the link to our contributions. Hopefully there is time to read, comment, and share other author’s posts. I like to come back later in the week and do this, to optimize views for everyone.
That takes planning, right? How do I make sure it gets done?
I use my phone to set reminders, and I use my calendar on my computer in addition. I will write myself notes, and I keep a calendaring journal to outline each month’s posts, as well as make notes about the blog.
You might wonder how I remember to outline. I just do, because it’s the second week of the following month. What does that mean? Don’t forget to schedule rest. A creative mind needs plenty of it. I’m not just talking about the eight hours of night time sleep. I’m talking, also, about taking a break from working on the blog, or anything. I know. I know. So many sites will tell you that you need to write daily, at least so many pages. If you really feel you need to do that, then do so. The real point is that you realize day 8 of the month is time to start writing the blog (if you choose that date—you could choose day 1). I spend the next 7 days at 8:30 pm -10:00 PM writing my blog. Yes, there are some nights I’m too tired. Thus, I plan to work on it for 14 days. In addition, every Sunday night (sometimes I get lucky and am able to get to it between Thursday and Saturday), I work on my post to the blog hop.
The one thing I need to do is schedule more time for proofreading. You’ll see typos and hanging sentences, and I apologize, but it’s really hard to make sure everything is 100% when I’m the only person working on the schedule, topics, writing, editing, proofing, and layout. Intense!
Are there tools to help? Spellcheck and other apps do their thing, but they just simply are not enough. The problem often turns out to be a correctly spelled word, but it’s the wrong tense. I’ll find these after the post has gone out, which is fantastic, as I’m usually out of the writing office, and there’s nothing I can do about it for hours. When you’re a writer, you worry a great deal about these things, because you panic that readers will see it and lose all confidence in you. Don’t. No one is perfect. I had Harvard educated professors telling me all about their typos, as we shared around the table. We all smiled knowingly. You won’t get them all. But, I feel you, like when I read one of my books and see that there’s a typo, and I just paid a proofer a couple hundred…so fired. (Please smile. That was a joke. Proofreaders are just as human as us authors.)
My two favorite tools have to be my phone and my journal. These have worked out well for me. I also use a number of apps to help me create great images, and connect on social media. So what hasn’t worked out? Flying by the seat of my pants all the time and using only post it notes, and manila folders haven’t really helped. I wouldn’t use a folder like that until you’re ready to pack stuff away for posterity. It’s not a great way to organize a book project. If you like the idea of a physical folder, I’d go with notebook with pockets or a multi tab folder. You’ll need the space and separations to effectively organize. If you’re going to use post it notes with abandon, tape them onto a larger sheet of related notes, so you don’t lose them. You will lose them. I recently lost one I had made notes on for a blog post coming up. I had to recreate the information so I could write. To this moment I cannot say that I even got close to the great list I had created on that note. What’s better than post it notes? Try using the notes function on your phone, or write text documents on your computer that you keep in a dedicated project folder.
There are going to be times that you have to be flexible and abandon your planning and even your tools. But this process will become second nature, and you’ll learn to work in it the best way for you. If you’d like to know anything more specific or have a few more details on my process, feel free to comment below with a question.
Now, go on over and see what tools the other authors have on deck. Happy blogging!