my desk by Lynn Lovegreen

Tips for Writers: Getting Organized

Tips for Writers: Getting Organized

I have been avoiding my study for several weeks. While I don’t mind writing on the couch, I know this is a sign that I need to do some cleaning and organizing so I can work in there again. Between that and not keeping up with my to-do list, I feel a need to update my organizational skills. Maybe you are in a similar situation, or maybe you just want to get a bit more organized before the holiday season gets any closer?

Some areas I do pretty well with, but for others I really need to get my act together. We all have challenges—maybe you’ll recognize your issues today. Here are some tips I found to help me. Perhaps they’ll be of use to you, too. Please click on the links at the end to see more tips and learn details from those authors.

Create/refine time-management

I like structure, so I like having a schedule. My problem is when I have a meeting or appointment—then my whole day goes out the window. I need a Plan B schedule, maybe allotted time blocks rather than a set schedule. Other writers work more loosely, or have very limited periods for writing, but still need to manage their time.  Joan Whetzel’s post (below) suggests starting with tracking your time and setting goals, and has good tips on taking advantage of short periods of time (such as waiting for kids, etc.) to write notes, and sending yourself emails. And she mentions one I’m still perfecting for myself—saying no. (I do sometimes, but need to cut down on my nonessential tasks.)

Organize workspace

My big issue right now! I have a desk and some notes and files, but they’re spilling out all over the desk, and I need to create a better storage/organization system. Also, Emily Johnson (below) reminds writers to be good to your body by using good lighting, ergonomically-friendly desk and chair, and look into standing or treadmill workspace if that works for you, and mentions ellipticals—I might need to think about that one.

Track payments and expenses

I just saw my new tax accountant today, and she gave me a handy worksheet for Schedule C so I can see what categories of information I’ll need to give her. But generally, I keep all receipts, and make notes in my checkbook and credit card statements so I know how much I’ve spent and where. I also need to go through my inbox stuffed with receipts and figure out how to sort and store them. Suzannah Windsor suggests a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.

Create/refine a note-taking system

In my case, I usually have a running journal for research notes, and a notepad in my purse. (This is in addition to notes and drafts on my computer.) Some people love Scrivener for notes and drafting. My advice is to play with different systems, digital and old-fashioned, to see what works for you. Melissa Donovan’s post (below) explains how to make binders for print notes and folders for digital ones. And while we’re talking digital—SAVE BACKUPS! There’s nothing worse than losing a whole book because your computer died (sorry for shouting with the bold font, but I’m trying to save you grief here).

Here are some good posts on these subjects:

Melissa Donovan:

Emily Johnson:

Joan Whetzel:

Suzannah Windsor:

Hope this was helpful for you. Now, go out there and organize! Then write! 🙂

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.


  • Cinthia

    Organizing is a four-letter word for me. Just can’t seem to get the hang of it. Wish I could. I’d probably be much more productive. I’m actually on the couch right now. I’ve noticed that I do my best editing at my desk but as far as writing, well, when I’m tucked up cozy on the couch it’s as if my inner editor voice temporarily shuts off and I can write more freely. It’s very odd, writing, isn’t it? Cheers and have a great week.

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