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How getting organized can help you be a better writer

I set big writing goals last year, but somehow the year got away from me. I did accomplish many of my goals but not some of the most important ones. Why? Life happened. Tragedies small and large. More happened last year to pull me off track then the previous several years combined. But I learned from those experiences–“grist for the mill” as they say. One of the things I learned was that I need help staying on track.

This year, I’m investigating and implementing different ways to keep my writing projects organized and keep me heading toward my goals. Don’t worry–I’m not one of those people who’s constantly rearranging paper clips to the detriment of actually writing. But I do find that planning to be successful helps me become more successful. Between my business and my various writing projects (poetry manuscript, memoir, and fantasy book) things slip by. I can go for days getting bogged down in one area while losing track of the big picture.

One of the areas I need help with is an easy system to track upcoming contests and my submissions to said contests. Getting smaller works published–poetry, excerpts of my memoir, essays, etc–is part of my larger plan for the year.

Because I’m highly visual, I bought a gigantic calendar and hung it in my writing room.

On it, I write upcoming contest or submission deadlines, workshops or readings I may want to attend, my weekly writing group meeting, etc. Once I get done with my current projects and begin to work on my next book, I’ll post weekly word count goals and daily word count accomplishments. I even bought colored stars and stickers to add to my calendar when I meet my goals.

I know there are computer programs or Excel spreadsheets to track all this–and I plan on checking out a few–but for now, I’m having fun turning my calendar into a work of art. Oh, and by the way, in January, I entered three contests that I wouldn’t have entered without my new calendar. Getting organized, having a place to put daily and monthly goals and accomplishments seems to be making me a better writer, too. I have less mind-clutter, more free space for creativity.

Please share your favorite tips for how you organize your writing life in the comments below.

On another note, if you’re interested in tools and resources to propel you on your writing journey towards publication, you’ll find many publishing companies offer book binding and other resources to help writers create their own books. In upcoming posts, we’ll be highlighting more tools for writers to help you improve productivity and meet your publishing goals.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love your large-view calendar. I use MS Outlook’s calendar, but have never been completely happy with how it looks…plus it’s too easy to neglect to open it.

    I’ve found that using posting goals and progress on my website has been helpful, too. I’m using a word counter app from to track progress on the rewrite I’ve been having trouble starting. It’s helped!

    February 3, 2012
  2. I like your calendar! Very fun and colorful. I keep track of fiction submissions in Duotrope and also keep an Excel spreadsheet as a back-up and for non-fiction submissions. I also have a cork board full of index cards, one for each story that will go into three ebook short story collections I’ll be releasing soon. I’m using stickers and color-coded thumb tacks to keep track of what stage each story is at.

    February 3, 2012
  3. Thanks Cheryl and Janel. Great suggestions! I’ve been looking for a word counter app and I like the index card idea esp. using them on a cork board so I don’t lose them. What fun! Carol

    February 3, 2012

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  1. How to use writing contests to reach your goals | onewildword

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