All Things Writing

The Craft of Writing


2014 Organized or Bust

orderchaos_xlI’m determined to be more organized in 2014. I know, everyone says things at the start of a new year that they mean but don’t achieve. I think this year it is a matter of do it or give it up entirely. So here goes.

I. I broke the things requiring my attention into categories. I figure my span of control is about five categories – there’s that MBA piping in again. So far I’ve used four and they are, in no particular order:

  1. Speculative projects – Queries, Blogging, Platform, Freelance
  2. Contracted projects – Client1, Client2, Client3, Client4
  3. Continuing education – Certifications, Conferences, Reading
  4. Family/Household – Kids, Household

II. I have one marble notebook that has all the ToDos. I’ve been using it since August and it is working better than any ToDo scheme ever. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Organization as a Game Plan?

I’m always looking for a better way to manage my writing business. Yes. Business. Being a freelance writer is at least as much as managing the business aspect of the role as the actual writing – if your goal is to make a steady income.

I’ve been a freelance writer for about five years – writing for much longer than that – and I’ve done okay, but nothing stellar. What I mean is, you won’t find me in the pages of the six-figure income books! But this year I had a solid plan to make a steady, very respectable income, from my existing clients. I know. As freelancers you already know the sad punchline to this tale. My biggest client hasn’t gotten any new requests for content in six months. Talk about bad news! The good news is, I’m one of their writers and as soon as they have more business, I have more business. The other good news is that I have several other clients who continue to generate business for me.

It’s time to pitch some ideas. Many ideas, in fact. It occurred to me the other day that my current process is designed for someone who pitches occasionally, rather than for someone who pitches on a regular basis.

I determined that the problem with my current system is that it is:

  • Paper-based
  • Inefficient
  • Doesn’t work

I mean by all of this that once something is printed out and filed, it is out of mind. That may be a result of running in many directions at once, but I rarely meet a freelance writer who is not in the same situation. I think it’s part of the job.

My new system is not paper-based:

I create folders in Scrivener. These folders hold all the research sites and documents I have on a topic. This is important because I find that researching a topic takes two passes at the start. The first pass is to establish that this is as interesting as it seemed and that there is enough readily available information for me to get up to speed. The second pass is when I am ready to write a query and have determined my angle. With everything right there on my desktop, I don’t have to do research twice or have a bookmarks bar that is so big I forget about what’s not on the screen. (Yes. Out of sight, out of mind was a saying created with me in mind!) To be sure I don’t space out about my queries, I leave Scrivener open on my desktop. When I get on my computer, it’s right there!

At the start of one week, I look through what I have in Scrivener and pick five topics that have passed the first screening. I make a list on my Note pad and let those five topics spin around in the back of my brain until the Friday of week two, when I write my queries and send them out. With five queries a week going out, I’m greatly increasing the odds of getting an assignment. When I’m done generating queries, I start a new list on my Notes pad.

For the actual pitches, I plan to use either Evernote or Circus Ponies Notebook. I’m not sure which. I’m giving them both a try and I’ll let you know.

Fingers crossed!



Apps to the Rescue

I’ve been running like a fool, trying to keep track of too many things between too many devices.  The result?  An exhausted, frazzled me.  And a hot mess of note, notecards, notebooks, pads, scraps of paper…

Today I decided it was time to tackle it all and find a way to get my iPad, iPhone, and Mac to play nice with the software I use most often.  The result — SUCCESS!

I use Scrivener for my nonfiction projects. I’ve also started to use if for organizing other projects.  For instance, I’m using it to keep track of everything associated with the redesign of my website and the associated considerations for the type of business I’d like to pursue this year.  If I were in my office all day, I would just work in Scrivener on my computer but most days I have at least an hour or two of accumulated time when I could be doing something work-related but I’m not in my office.  Don’t get me wrong!  If I’m caught up with my work, I actually read or catch up with friends.  But sometimes that’s just not possible.

I’d read somewhere that I can use simplenote to synch with Scrivener!  The Scrivener program is on my desktop, with the data file in Dropbox so I can access it from my laptop if I want.  The simple note app is on my iPad2 and my iPhone4.  The data file is in the cloud.  I watched a video about synching the notes I make or the changes I make to existing content and voila, I can do work on my iPad and synch it back to Scrivener.  It really works!

I also have started using Evernote to keep track of my ideas.  There is an app for my desktop or laptop as well as for my iPad2 and my iPhone.  The data is stored in the cloud so all I need to do is log in and add a note or make a change.  It’s available to all my devices whenever I want to plan or work.  It’s simple to use and I have the notes categorized with tabs to I can see by market, stage of progress, overall topic, etc.  For me at least, it’s far more useful than a simple reminder or ToDo list.

So as long as the cloud and Dropbox and Evernote are available, I’m good to go …

What software and/or apps do you use to keep track of your ideas and work in progress?  Please share your experience!