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

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Writers on the Move
by Linda S. Dupie

Today's technology makes writers more mobile. We're able to keep editors informed at all times with cell phones, e-mail, and faxes. Then why do we cringe when we think of moving? Relocating is stressful for anyone, but for a writer it means packing our organized chaos into boxes.

"…Don't stress over a move," says Carma Shoemaker freelance writer from North Carolina. "People move everyday-including editors and publishers."

Less stress and organization can be achieved by approaching the move as if writing an article. The rough draft is our office. To get the draft ready for publication we rewrite, edit, and revise. So goes the process for packing our offices.

Where do we start so that our move goes smoothly from packing to unpacking? Duane Dupie of Security Storage Company of Washington DC says, "Organization is key to a smooth and uneventful move whether you have a moving company do the move or you do it yourself."

Dupie adds, "List all of the office equipment and possible categories of boxes containing files. Then start separating, throwing away and pack."

Does this process look familiar?

Rewriting the First Draft
Before writers finish an article, they go through the process of rewriting, editing and revising. We tweak an article until we can tweak no more; similar to the way you would organize for a move. Packing for a move is daunting, but packing an office is more so because it's our livelihood.

What's a writer to do? Rewrite that draft! Start cleaning or decluttering the office, not organizing. My office is the house catchall--anything that can't or doesn't fit into the living room ends up in my office.

Grab a trash bag and get rid of everything that isn't office or job related. Making a trash pile will work better if you actually use a trash bag, to make it out of sight, out of mind. This way you won't second-guess yourself.

Editing Equals More Cleaning
The rewrite is complete; okay your office is clean, but now for the necessary editing. The editing that took place in my office went along these lines: Before my last move, I went through every file. I divided the files into four categories:

1. Current materials (articles and research from the past three months)

2. Older files (six months to one year)

3. Files older than a year

4. Trash

Trying to decide what to keep and what to pitch is difficult. We may use the information for another article. While I separate and clean out older file categories, I look for usable information that might provide a different slant or possible reprint sales. Then I discard outdated information after making a notation on the file. When I'm unsure, I never throw research away. I place it with files to be stored away from my office area. If I find possible reprints, I use a sticky note on the outside of the folder, and then place these folders with my current files.

Revising Your Office
While editing is difficult, revising or streamlining an article is just as hard. A simple organizational plan helps. Without realizing it, we've already accomplished most of the organization by creating the four categories previously mentioned. Now is the time to take each category and pack it in its own box. If one box isn't full, don't fill it out with the next pile of files; instead fill the box with old newspaper or packing peanuts to keep the contents from shifting. Not mixing the categories will save time unpacking. When packing the office supplies and large office equipment, Dupie says, "I always remind customers to pack their office equipment individually. This protects against breakage. The same goes for supplies. Put them in a separate box."

You've bubble wrapped the last piece of equipment, taped the last box closed and labeled it. Now it's time to stand back and admire your accomplishment. Aaahhh, don't linger too long because the revision isn't complete until you unpack the last box.

Rising From the Ashes of Chaos
While half of the organizational process is complete the other half is placing it in your new office--the final revision. Take time to think about furniture placement. Setting up the desk, filing cabinets, fax, and telephone is as important as the time put into organizing the files. The best advice is to keep the office setup simple, and make wise use of existing space whether it's an entire room or the corner. An office that flows well generally works efficiently. Using a simple U configuration eliminates many problems.

I place my desk close to a window, if possible, and then place my filing cabinets on one side and bookcases on the other. I also have any other tables or desks within reach for whatever I need, so I don't have to walk to the other side of the room. Use the bottom of the U as workspace; place the computer, fax, and telephone, and any current projects here. The sides of the U have all other filing cabinets and bookcases with the least used items farthest away from the bottom of the U. Unpack the files last, and keep the older files boxed and in a separate but accessible place. This is the time to set up a simple filing system if you don't already have one in place.

Suggestions For Writers On The Move
* Be sure to set aside plenty of time to clean and organize for your move.

* Purchase or find boxes (grocery or office supply stores are excellent sources for used boxes) for your packing needs.

* Save old newspaper and packing peanuts to fill or protect items you pack. Also, unsalted and unbuttered popcorn can be used for insulating/protecting items in the boxes.

* Have plenty of packing tape.

* Clear out the clutter. This is like editing your manuscript. Get rid of anything that is not necessary.

* Remove all files from your filing cabinets. Separate them into categories that fit your needs.

* Use large white labels and permanent marker to label boxes.

* Make a list of your office contents as you pack. To keep it simple, only use the category names for your files.

* Pack each file category in its own box and clearly label.

* If you're using a professional mover, let them pack your office equipment. If you're moving yourself, be sure to pack each piece of equipment separately. This protects against breakage.

* Be sure to do a complete backup of files stored on your computer.

* Set up a simple filing system.

* Unpack your files last. To stay organized don't clutter up your filing cabinet with files older than a year. Keep them boxed and put away in a closet.

* Plan your office set up carefully, make it easy to use. Have everything you need within reach. Hunting for needed items only wastes precious time and energy.

Packing an office needn't be stressful. A little research, some rewriting, editing, and revising, and you'll be an organized writer on the move.

Linda S. Dupie is a freelance writer, she writes on a variety of subjects including Travel, Kids and Family issues. Linda also publishes the award-winning Web site Rainy Day Corner for the Writing Family. Visit Linda's Home Page at http://www.lindasdupie.com.









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