Sunday, 24 January 2016

How to Stay Organised (Writing Tips)

In both life and in writing, I find it is very important to stay organised. Why? Well, you can easily  get lost, forget what you're doing, things like that. Which is why I find it very important (even if you don't plan) to keep on top of your work is remain organised. Now, I can't say I stay organised for college, but when it comes to writing, I'm always organised. I love knowing where everything fits into place. Read on to learn more about how to keep yourself in check!


Software

If you're a computer addict, it would make sense to use software to keep yourself organised. I like to use a few different ones, and when I'm really working hard, I use multiple ones at a time. Here's some of the things I like to use.
  •  RescueTime :: not really something to stay organised, but it'll stop you from using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other timewasters. I thought to put it here, but I won't really go in detail about it.
  • Scrivener :: Scrivener is awesome! It's not free, but you can get a discount if you win NaNoWriMo (though I forgot how much the discount is, because I brought mine as an early birthday present to myself a while ago). It's great because everything is self contained, and if you're a total hardcore planner, this is seriously good software for you.
  • Microsoft Office Excel :: this is a staple for any writer, as it comes packaged with the Microsoft Office suites. You can use it in many ways and I guess it's similar to Scrivener in that you can literally do whatever you want, though it isn't actually geared towards writers. If you're a student, you might want to check out your college or university to see if you can get the latest Office suite for free along with a free 365 Email account.
  • Open Office Spreadsheets :: this is a free office suite akin to the Microsoft Office packages. Won't really get into it, as it's the same as the above.

Planners

I've only ever had one of these, and I mainly used it to schedule appointments and goals for the day, as well as writing in ideas and plot themes. This is somewhat more a life tip than a writing tip, but it's a good tool to have in your arsenal. So, what should you look for in a good planner?
  • Address book :: get your agent, publisher, and emergency contacts in there ASAP
  • Goals/to-do list :: my planner has two of these sections, and they're great!
  • Appointments/diary :: these are best when they're day-to-day. You can schedule things, and even write down meal plans, or whatever else you like to keep track of

Notebooks 

What does every author have? Notebooks and pads. At least, I do. If you don't have many then don't worry. I like to do a lot of planning in notebooks, and use Scrivener as a backup. I don't know why -- handwriting is an art that is slowly dying, and I like to keep writing by hand! It's more fun, and makes everything seem more formal. It almost seems like a ritual.  Looking to buy a new one? Here's some of my fave tips for picking up a nice new notebook/pad.
  • Get a good bind :: spiral bound? Yes, please! Spiral bound makes it easier to open, keep open, and they're just generally easier to work with.
  • What size? :: I don't know American sizes, but A5 is a good standard for me as I can pop them into my bag, and they don't take up too much room. A4 is good for when I want a new one that I keep at home.
  • Paper :: Get a high GSM because usually, that means nicer pages. They'll be thicker, and nicer. Trust me on this one.
  • Pens :: I use a Parker fountain pen, and it's gold plated. I'm not saying you need to go running out to purchase a Parker pen, but you should invest in a nice pen. My Parker is so fancy that I take my time when I write, and the ideas just flow more naturally. It's so fun, and I prefer to use it instead of a regular old Bic or something.
Once you have your notebook, you need to decide on how you're going to use it.
  • Dividers and Inserts :: dividers can be used in spiral bound notebooks and project books. Inserts can be used anywhere. These are great because you can split sections for characters, plots, ideas, locations etc etc.
  • Sticky notes and Colour Codes :: these are great because you can actually further divide sections by using colours and sticky notes! I like to use pink for characters, green for locations, blue for plots, and yellow for new ideas.
  • Index :: Number your pages and use an index! Somewhat of a more traditional idea, and kind-of more time consuming, but I like the idea of using an index. After a while, they become easier to make.
  • Loose-leaf & Binders/Pockets :: this is a little bit of a different idea, but have you considered using a refill pad and then tearing out the pages and putting them into binders or plastic pockets? This is a good idea for people with lots and lots and lots of ideas.

 Conclusion

What do you use to keep organised? I like to use a collection of different things, as I've said. I write my first draft with no planning at all, then I will go over my draft and use my draft as a plan. Once I've done that, it's all handwrote with important notes going into Scrivener, and then I will write the final draft.
Is anyone interested in learning more about my writing process? I will be happy to do a post about it! In fact, I'm considering doing it tomorrow! Tell me in the comments how you feel about keeping organised!

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