Writers Need Organization

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been doing some spring cleaning both at home and here in the office that I began to think about being organized. And, as often happens with me, whatever I’m thinking about soon translates into a writing application.

One of the best things writers experience is great ideas. Now, that doesn’t mean all the ideas come at once or come when it’s convenient. It just means ideas come and if we don’t write them down on something, we lose them. Most of the time if we try to get them back, we can’t. We’ve all had good ideas, lost them, and been frustrated because they were too good to discard, yet that’s exactly what happened.

Whether you capture your ideas on scraps of paper or jot them in your journal or notebook, you’ll want to retrieve them in the future, so you need some sort of organization.

I suggest my students create an idea box and slip those scraps of paper with great ideas on them into the box. Keeping notebooks handy works too. Of course, putting your idea reminders in an accordion file you get at the office supply store also works.

At some point, you may want to categorize your ideas in computer files so you can access them when you’re writing.

Consider creating folders for:

  • Descriptions (files could be places, nature, people, etc.)
  • Dialogue (files could be phrases, dialect, retorts, etc.)
  • Characters (files could be heroes, villans, children, men, women, etc.)
  • Occupations (files could be any occupation you’ve researched)
  • Places (files could be cities, small towns, rural, foreign,  etc.)
  • Research (files could be by topic or resource, including contact information, URLs, etc.)
  • Words (files could be words that are problematic for you or favorite words or jargon, etc.)
  • Quotes (files could be by topic or by person quoted–be sure to note credit information in case you need to get permission to use the quote)
  • Plot (files could be by genre–mystery, romance, horror, sci-fi, thriller, etc.)
  • Humor (files could be your personal observations, jokes, punch lines, etc.)

You get the idea.

My point is Don’t Discard Your Ideas–Save Them for Future Use! But you can’t use what you can’t find. That’s why you need organization. Find a system that works for you and that you will actually use. If you’re a writer, you need organization.

Happy writing!


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