That thought flew through my head a couple of days ago as I stared at our dining room table. Once more, it had become a dumping point where anything that came through the front door landed. Clutter had gathered, and it had begun to impact my ability to write.
We all need organization in our lives. Writers need it big time, especially those of us who both work full time and write. We need to stay organized in both our time and our workspaces.
We need organization in our time because the amount of free time that we have is painfully limited. Most of us who work full time work 8 to 5, Monday through Friday and have other responsibilities outside the house such as church, civic organizations, and family.
We need organization in our work area because where we work impacts the amount and quality of our writing. Writing amidst clutter, shouting kids, and distracting dogs will yield work that has to be erased and rewritten. Rewriting due to distracted writing yields nothing but frustration and wastes time.
How do we as writers who work full time get organized with our time?
- Learn writing rhythms. We all have various parts of the day when we are at our creative best. I certainly do. I’m at my creative best in the mornings, late afternoons, and evenings. Knowing when I write best allows me to capitalize on those times when I can.
- Learn availability. Those of us who work full time and have other priorities must determine the days when we can get a lot of writing done or none at all. For example, most Mondays through Fridays, I’m not available until after 7:00 in the evening. Mondays and Tuesdays are out due to household chores night and Bible study. Thursdays tend to work the best for me to write, and weekends vary.
- Come up with a plan and work it. Once we figure when we work best, we need to implement the plan. Garner that support by talking with your spouse or others who will be impacted by your plan. My husband knows that Thursday nights are Starbucks nights. I go to my local Starbucks, buy my hot tea, and write for a couple of hours. I also do my best to utilize stray working holidays as other times to write.
Writers also need a good workspace, and it doesn’t have to be one designated office space. Two or even three places can work. The key is that in that space at that point in time, writing occurs.
- Figure out what atmosphere works best for writing. I’ve found writing to be a lot like studying. Some people require absolute silence. Others like the hubbub of a coffee house. Still others play music. I vary depending on my mood and the stage I'm at in the writing process. Coffee house writing seems to fit most of my writing moods because nothing at distracts me as it would at home.
- Select two or three locations where the best writing takes place. These locations don’t even have to be at home. It could be the dining room table, a coffee house, or even a picnic table in a park. The key is that where you write has no distractions. For example, I’ll write on our screened-in porch during the summer, my office in the winter, and at my local Starbucks any time of the year.
- Keep writing materials close by. What writers need varies with the stage of the process. Computers are a necessity. For other resources, it depends. The point is to keep any needed materials close by. If you decide to go mobile, backpacks or book bags work wonders. Whenever I write, I take everything I need in a backpack so I don’t wind up stuck because I’m missing something.
Put it all together. Learn what works best for writing in terms of time and place. I did. I finally cleaned up my office so I have a place for writing. That’s where you’ll find me on some cold winter evenings. Otherwise, I’ll be at Starbucks.
Question: Where are your favorite places to write and when?
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