Stay in the break room until you are called.
This post is for the rest of us.
My name is Tina and I am a drawer hater. I like everything where it can be seen or touched.
That doesn't mean I'm not organized.
I'm a contracted writer for several business ventures as well as maintaining my own freelance and fiction career, so being organized (yes, even without a clean desk) is vital. I get quite a lot done because I am organized.
How you get organized is not important, just get started. I'll share a few of my methods and several that others have recommended. Pick a plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
Deb Ng, from http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/, demonstrates an editorial calendar for writers who blog in more than one place. Taking her suggestion I have a similar one to plan my blog topics and also to keep track of the monthly submission themes and deadlines required by the confession magazines.
I utilize my AOL online calendar, which has a reminder service, to keep me current on all appointments, classes and important dates. But being a bit anal, I also document personal events on a separate wall calendar, just because I like to be able to glance up and see that
Harlequin editor, Melissa Endlich, will be visiting Writers At Play all day on May 1st, 2008 or the Inspirational Golden Heart Finalists will be in Seekerville April 29 and 30 2008.
Hartley B. Singer of the Hart Blogging Empire, recommends the AZZ Cardfile Software, a program that pretty much does everything but the dishes. " The AZZ Cardfile is Windows program that helps manage any personal information like addresses, phone numbers, references, notes, recipes. It can serve as personal organizer, contact manager, address book, rolodex, personal information manager (PIM) or small database software."
The publishing industry moves much too slow to wait around for your submissions to come back to you before sending the next one out. At any given time you should know which publisher, editor or agent has seen which manuscript and where it currently is and how long it has been there.
The advantage of being organized is when your short story Love & Felony comes back after being rejected by Ace Magazine you can send it right back out to Bread and Butter Media after a few publisher specific tweaks. The same is true of your romance novel queries. You don't have time to dwell on rejections. The time spent whining you could have been submitting.
I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to document all submissions including contest entries. I started it in 1996 and obviously more columns and rows can be added as needed. For this example I pulled one magazine entry and one contest entry from the spreadsheet.
There are many professional software programs or tools available for submission tracking, the choice is yours:
Getting the Most Out of Your Desktop:
The real desktop versus the virtual desktop. In my world the two overlap.
I use the real world desktop to store paper copies of completed manuscripts in a 3" three-ring binder. All research information and pictures along with a printed copy of the manuscript goes into the binder. I also keep a copy of everything that is in that binder in a file that is duplicated on the C drive, the F drive (flash) the E drive (external) and finally my desktop for easy access.
What do you when an idea hits? I keep index cards with me for just such a moment. The cards are great for bits of overheard conversation, quotes or brilliant ideas. I date the card and shove it in a recipe file box that sits on my real world desk top. I also keep a virtual idea folder on my computer's desktop with story starters for writing short stories for submission to magazines.
Finally I organize my bookmarked web pages in folders according to category: telecommuting jobs, fiction, personal, non fiction etc.
How can you organize your desktop? There are several software programs that will help you organize your desktop, your computer files, web browsing and your email.
Google Desktop which customizes your desktop for maximum productivity.
Optimal Desktop offers a great system to organize feeds and web site browsing.
The Importance of Backing Up:
There are too many options out there for a writer to ever bemoan a power failure and lost data. Back up. Then back up your back up. Think of computer-wide or individual file backups as insurance. How much is your data worth to you? What are the odds of it being lost, in a disaster or due to theft? What plan you choose for data back up is your decision based on this information.
- USB Flash Drive-If you are saving on a manuscript basis and the amount of data is under 4-8 GB then a handy pocket flash drive may be the solution. It's portable and you can buy several. One for your briefcase and one to keep in a safety deposit box. Warning: Keep them away from magnets and washing machines.
- Burn Your Manuscripts to Disc-A nice option for a small cache of manuscripts. Again you want to keep them in more than one location. If you have a re-writeable CD writer then you can get special CDs that can be written to multiple times. They will be labeled CD-RW instead of CD-R which are WORM (Write Once, Read Many).
- External Hard Drive-When considering complete computer back up, it's not the size of your computer that counts but how much data you have. Complete computer data back up should be done daily, weekly and monthly if you have data that is very important. You need 3x the space of the data on your computer and double that to allow for growth. The norm is 15 to 20 GB. At 50 dollars for an external drive you can buy two and keep one at your house and one at a friend's. Check out the options on e.Cost (an example:Maxtor 250GB OneTouch™ II External Hard Drive 250GB Hard Drive at $59.00) Newer computers and external hard drives utilize USB 2.0 and are 40x faster than older models. Software suggestions to complete your backup includes Acronis and Symantec's Backup Exec.
- Virtual storage-Another option is remote hard drives or virtual file storage. Check out the company you use for encryption safety and access ease. Remember once your stuff is out of your hands you are dependent on a third party for their own routine backups and security. Also remember that while downloads are relatively fast, uploading is slow even with cable. Suggestions for remote/virtual backup? Mozy or iDrive.
Now--thanks to Gina Welborn for this great idea--I challenge you all to send a link to a picture of your office. The names of those who posted a link in Seekerville will go into a random drawing. One winner chosen this evening, 9 p.m. Mountain Time will win a neat, tidy and very organized $10.00 Amazon Gift Card, which will be sent to you via your email address. That means I need an email address too! You don't have to be techo and create a lovely hot link, just spit out the URL and you are in.