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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Organization for the Creative Writer
(a.k.a. Real Life)

by Sheri Waldrop

First, it is important to realize that there are two categories of human beings; the organized, punctual, detail-oriented people and the creative, free-flowing, artistic ones. Usually, they are married to each other.

Normal articles on organization are directed toward the first category. But this article is for those of us who are creative writers.

1. Organizing your workplace.
In most business articles, we're told to use office organizers to hold pens and pencils, and a file folder for papers. But in the creative household, pens cannot be found and pencils mysteriously disappear. When children or spouses are queried as to where these items might be, the questioner is greeted with a blank look or shoulders shrugged upwards and the phrase "I dunno."

After hours of searching, the creative writer finds a pen, three pencils and other missing items under the sofa cushions in the dayroom.

Tip number one:
Look under the cushions first. You will save hours out of your day. Don't bother asking where things are, no one ever knows. Once you find said items, place them in a box on your computer table with a taped sign that says, "Warning: toxic virus inside." This may keep people from stealing them for a day or two.

2. Organize your paper work.
Most organization articles state that the writer should have a filing cabinet with neatly labeled folders for papers. In reality, the creative writer hasn't seen the computer room floor in the past two years due to stack of notes, articles, query letter copies and writing contracts littering the area.

Tip number two: Get a big box. Put the stacks in there. Now you can walk to your computer to write. If you want to really organize, take some manila folders and separate your papers into three piles:

*possible legal action if I throw these away (put them in a folder labeled "important")

*notes for current articles or article ideas (place them in a folder called "pretty necessary")

*Throw away the rest.

Now take the important papers (legal contracts, etc.) and hide them in your closet where your children can't find them and scribble over them or use them for paper airplanes.

3. Create a business plan.
Most organization articles discuss creating business plans for your writing. This means having contracts, and learning the ins and outs of billing for services, taxes and other things. The creative writer has a much simpler method:

*take all your receipts for money earned in the fiscal year and add them into a column. This is called "income."

*take your bills from the past year, and subtract them from the income left (the bills are called "debits").

The number left will be your net income for the year. If it is a negative number, don't panic. You can become creative with your deductions (does cat food count as a business expense if the writer can only create when Fluffy is purring on her lap?).

Or, you can go to the backup plan: find an accountant to do this for you. His bill will be a "debit," but he may help you find ways to lower your taxes. Legally.

4. Organize your queries.
Most working freelance writers query and query frequently. Organized people will archive queries, print them, place them in neatly labeled folders and create a checklist of magazines and companies queried, with check back dates.

The creative writer has a simpler plan. Query every company on your list simultaneously with different ideas. Get them all out of the way in one massive mailing. To keep track of who you mailed, the creative writer looks under the "sent box" in the e-mail program. Then, just repeat the process once a month. That way you're sure to reach everyone on your query list.

5. Organize your time to write.
Organized people call and e-mail their friends, and let them know that they are working between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., so do not disturb. The creative writer has found that when they do this, they are inundated with calls from:

*sales people (no one told them not to call)

* friends who "forgot"

*Aunt Sally in Iowa

*hang up calls from bored teenagers

*bill collectors (see item 2, when income is less than debits.)

The creative writer turns the ringer off when writing. He or she sends an e-mail address to each child's school. When parents and others complain that they can't be reached, the creative writer smiles sweetly.

However, it is important to turn the phone ringer back on when finished. This can be easy to forget, and the creative writer will then get a visit from the local police department since he or she may be reported as a "missing person."

The creative writer with children will find that they can only work on school days, and between  the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. The creative writer learns to like coffee due to the late hours they keep.

6. Network.
The organized person has a wide network of writing contacts, all indexed and archived. A personal planner even includes regular call back dates to said contacts. The creative writer is too busy writing and driving children places to remember to call anyone, and the phone ringer is turned off anyway, so no one can call them. To actually network, the creative writer does visit the local writer's group that meets in the library at 8 p.m. once a month, and enjoys hearing from fellow writers.

7. Create a Web page.
The organized person has a professional quality Web page, that shows accomplishments, background, skills, and serves as an advertisement for available services. The creative writer teaches themselves HTML, and starts experimenting with chartreuse and teal backgrounds and creative borders.

The creative writer rejoices if a table actually shows up on the server, and creates a Web site that is an example of artistry to the world. Somewhere on it there are clips posted, if the reader looks past the Javascripts.

Sheri Waldrop is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator with over 20 years experience as a critical care nurse and health educator.

Currently, she is the owner of Proscribe Writing Service, and has written on topics for clients such as About, Inc., Women's International Network, Advance Nursing Magazine, French Cove Magazine, Discover Belly Dance, and others.

She also manages an Internet company that provides dial-up services, and teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) to Hispanic adults. She has developed and written monthly newsletters on Women's Health issues, created patient education brochures, developed the Hispanic diabetes curriculum for a major teaching hospital, and created content for Web sites on topics ranging from fitness and health to corporate communications.

She is married with two teenaged children, and is an avid gardener in her spare time. You can view samples of her writing and learn more about her writing service at









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