Organizing the Wilderness

No, I do not mean my desk. Yes, I do know exactly where everything is on it. Yes, there are ways to more efficiently use the space (moving the index card box is one of them; that isn’t where it lives) and I am working on that. Having the big, wide, lovely monitor directy in front of my beloved cubbyholes is not my first choice, but since that is where I can put the old desktop (for now; we will see what happens when the new desktop joins the family) and it’s a small office, one works with what one has.

When left to my own devices, without any accountability, chance to talk things over, or socialization with others of my kind, I will run wild, vacillating between frustration over not getting anything done, and blithely following bunny trails of interest, which result in not getting anything done, which results in frustration, which results in a self-perpetuating cycle, which has got to stop. Clean sweep. Done with the chaos (well, chaos inside the books is good for the story, but that’s another post.) and time to start adding some more layers.

What works best for me when things have gone wild is structure. Set limits. Make goals. I highly recommend some form of morning pages. For me, it’s a two page spread in a dedicated notebook that is not for anything else, ever. Nobody else gets to see the pages once they have been written. These are only for me. Sometimes, they’re about the weird dream I had, a rambling discussion with myself on the pros and cons of getting bangs, ruminating over a conversation I had the day before, reacting to a big twist on a favorite TV show, or blabbering about one of the works in progress. Writing two pages of “ugh, I don’t know what to write here” is perfectly okay, too. The content does not matter. What matters is that I get my brain into writing mode, because once it’s there, it wants to stay, and that is kind of the whole point of the thing.

Once morning pages are done, I’m right there at my desk, so I may as well take care of other writing related tasks while I’m there. Can’t beat the commute of already in the danged chair, right? Each project has its own notebook that is for that, and  nothing else, and I also keep a couple of all purpose books in different locations. If my brain is jumbled, then it is time to write down that jumble and see if I can make sense of it, either during the process, or later. This carries over into writing on fiction projects. If I can’t write the scene I had planned on, I can write about the scene. What would I like to have happen? What is my best guess as to why it is not happening? What do I need? Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If so, fix that, and then come back and try it again. Do I not know enough about the scene? What do I  need to know? Figure that out, and come back. It’s not that I can’t, and obviously need to give up this pipe dream of writing commercial fiction and go back to retail, but that it’s the same as a plumber opening her toolbox to fix a pipe, realizing she doesn’t have her wrench, and then going to get the danged wrench.

With two novel projects going on at the same time, posts for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Buried Under Romance, as well as my own blog, and co-presenting a conference workshop coming up, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Good thing there is an easy fix. Write. That. Stuff. Down. If I can see what I have to do, then I can get a better idea of what has to be done, when, and in what priority. I love to organize, and I’m best at it when I can touch paper. So, if I haven’t covered the day’s tasks in my morning pages, time to get some paper -still figuring out what kind of notebook is best for me for this particular endeavor- and make a list. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are blog days. Tuesday is breakfast with N. If I have a TV show to recap that night, that goes on the list as well.

November is my month for figuring out how I plunge ahead into the thick of things, so I can’t say as yet how I’m measuring  overall fiction progress, but I do know that head down, eyes on my own paper seems to get me through. Work on this scene, this outline, don’t worry about anything else. Concentrate on one thing at one time, set limits, take a break, on to the next thing. Sure, things look overwhelming when they are all one big, fuzzy mess. I once saw a graphic on Facebook that mentioned the writer not having ducks, and them not being in a row. The writer had squirrels, and they were at a rave. That hit home. Yes. I have squirrels. Fortunately, those squirrels can be lured into individual go-go cages. At least that’s the plan. Onward we go.

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