Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fun With Office Supplies

At this point, we've all been writing for a while. We've got stories, poems, novel chapters, etc. scattered all over the place. Don't deny it. If you haven't gotten them scattered all over your house, that probably means they're all still electronic on your computer - which totally doesn't count as being organized.

Now, it's a widely accepted truth that writers are really only writers because we have a deep and abiding love for all things office supply. If you can't walk into a Staples, etc. without picking up something extra, it's a good sign you're a writer. So, let's make use of that, shall we?

My challenge this month is to practice a bit of organization. It's time to pile all your hardcopies together, take a look at what you've got, and do some sorting. You know those cool binders you've been stockpiling? It's time to use a couple. If all your writing is on your computer, it's time to make hardcopies.

Now, not only will this get you organized, there's also a secondary benefit here. As you're collecting and sorting, you also should take some time to read through these various bits (both complete and not). It's remarkable the things you notice about your writing when you're looking at a large page count of it. What are the themes you see cropping up? The character types? Do you have a favorite setting or way of describing situations? Maybe you have a favorite hair color for your main characters. This is a great way to find out.

The last time I did this, I rediscovered a story I'd written which I'm now debating putting in my thesis. I'd completely forgotten it, but when I re-read it, I was pretty pleased with it. If I hadn't been going through my old stuff, though, it would have stayed lost.

While I've mentioned binders, don't forget about the rest of your office supplies stockpile. Page protectors, post-its, tabbed dividers, etc. would all make for helpful additions to this project.

For my part, I've been accumulating binders on campus. A lot of instructors have students do portfolios, which then go unclaimed, which then clutter up offices, which then get purged and put in the common area for anyone who wants them. Seriously, who can pass up free binders? I've also been playing around with figuring out what's going to go in my thesis.

This is my month to combine the two. By the end of the month, my plan is to have a prototype thesis compiled and organized in one of my windfall binders. That gets everything in one place and lets me start thinking of the thesis as a whole, vs. just the individual stories.

Another thing I'm going to do this month is revise the structure of my goals. In March I didn't hit all of my planned goals, but I did manage some things that weren't planned, ending in a pretty productive month all the same. So, for April, I'm going to plan less and account more. I have a couple of key things I want to do, but otherwise, my list for the month is going to focus on what I've done rather than what I want to do. We'll see if that makes a difference.


Jenny said...

I love the idea of restructuring your goals that way...I'm gonna do it to. That's a great way to focus on what you accomplish versus what you 'don't' accomplish. It'll probably feel better at the end of the month...

Debbie said...

Hmmm. Good idea. If nothing else, I'd get everything in one place and find out just how much I have. Notebooks and binders are my downfall. And pens.