Posted On May 20, 2013 by Print This Post

7 Weekly Steps to Becoming an Organized Writer with Kelsey Browning

A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, right? Today, co-founder Kelsey Browning shows us how to keep organized for better writing.

Kelsey-Small-300x300How many times have you lamented (okay, out and out whined) about the pressure for writers to do it all these days? Writers are one-person enterprises, overseeing production, marketing, finance, strategy and more. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, right?

Reality check.

Even if we added another eight hours to each day, we would still press to accomplish more in the limited time we have. So being organized is essential. Otherwise, you wake up one morning to discover your desk has its own zip code and your to-do list is longer than Santa’s. But by investing an hour a week, you can stay on track with your projects and paperwork. The trick is to make this process a part of your regularly scheduled work, not a maybe-if-I-get-to-it task. Commit and you’ll be happy you did.

Each Friday, I do a Weekly Review, a term I borrowed term from Todd Henry’s book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. Henry inspired my process, which I began a year and a half ago. And hmm…what’s happened since then? A cross-country move, a cross-country drive, six weeks halfway around the world, homeschooling my son, training a CCI service puppy. Oh yeah, and I signed a four-book deal with Carina Press and began co-writing a series with Nancy Naigle.

So today, I’m sharing with you my seven weekly steps to staying organized.

  1. File all loose papers in the appropriate place. Even better, handle the task associated with that paperwork. All that flotsam on your desk? Deal with it. Put it in the correct file, binder, precarious pile or whatever.
  2. Clean out your purse and work bag. Toss receipts you don’t need. Dig out gum wrappers and used tissues. Don’t leave anything in there you don’t need. Also clean out your wallet. This may be painful when you tackle it the first time, but after that, it should take less than five minutes.
  3. Use a trigger list to empty your head of those random oh-crap-I-forgot-my-parents’-anniversary thoughts. A trigger list is simply a list you look over to see if it “triggers” any to-dos. I found lists online and then customized. Examples of trigger list items include writing projects due, items you’re waiting for, marketing tasks, people to contact, upcoming events, appointments to make and more. I’ve linked to my trigger list so you can use it as a starting point.
  4. Review upcoming calendar. Review the upcoming two weeks, so things—like writing a blog post due not this Monday but the next—don’t escape you. I use Outlook for my calendar software and print a week on one sheet because to use it to make my daily to-do list.
  5. Review current projects and to-do list. You may cover some of the same ground as in step four, but I recommend you have an overall plan for each project/book. I use mind maps for this, but a list works well for others. Are you on target? What’s the next step? Are you stalled out because you’re waiting on something?
  6. Review future projects. You may find you can slot this in every other week or even once a month. But looking at those upcoming projects will help you stay on track and maintain a longer outlook.
  7. Process notes. This is the most time-consuming part of my process. All my notes, thoughts and randomness goes in one—and only one—spiral. I use this notebook to write my Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron) and jot down blog post ideas, thoughts about my current WIP, household to-dos and everything else I need to remember. I code each type of thought in the margins. Nothing sophisticated—an asterisk for a to-do, BCB for a Brain Candy blog post idea, book name for WIP ideas. During my weekly review, I either take care of the task or transfer those notes to their appropriate place. That may seem like double duty because it means typing up those notes. But this process allows me to keep all my ideas on a certain topic in one place, the right place. As most of my projects have their own Scrivener file, I never dig around for a scrap of paper or lost idea.

By incorporating these seven steps into your weekly schedule, you’ll become a more organized writer and businessperson. Yes, it takes a small time investment up front, but pays dividends in the long run.

Personal Assets – Coming August, 2013!

Excerpt

Sex therapist Allie Shelby has the professional credentials, but she could use a bit more practical experience. Finding the right man to bring out her inner bad girl is tough in a population-challenged Texas town. So when sinfully sexy Cameron Wright rolls back into Shelbyville, Allie wastes no time inviting him to join her in some hands-on research.

Cameron has come home to fulfill his dream of restoring classic cars. Back in high school, he knew the town princess, Allie Shelby, was way out of his league. Today he has even less in common with Allie, so he’s shocked as hell when she propositions him. Still, he’s only human, so he accepts her offer—and with each encounter, she shows him another, wilder side. Before long, he’s thinking about more than just sex.

But while her personal life heats up, Allie’s business is about to crash and burn. And she has to convince Cameron that she’s one princess who’s not looking for a prince to ride to her rescue.

***

RU crew, do you have a weekly process that helps keep you on track? If so, what tasks do you include?

Join us for author Mae Claire on Wednesday

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Bio: Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy. She’s currently at work on the third book in her Shelbyville, Texas, series. Give her a shout at Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com or drop by www.KelseyBrowning.com.

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29 Responses to “7 Weekly Steps to Becoming an Organized Writer with Kelsey Browning”

  1. Hi Kelsey,

    I’m a list maker. Every Sunday, I sit down and review the week for the household. If it’s not on the list or the calendar, not my fault. I do the same for my writing. I assess my WIPs and check for inspiration. Unfortunately, even when it’s in the top spot on the list, it doesn’t strike. Looking forward to your book!

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | May 20, 2013, 6:54 am
    • Mary Jo –

      I tend to be the calendar keeper for our family, but I’ve informed Smarty Boy–who is starting high school next year–that it’s going to be his responsibility to keep me updated on his schedule. We’ll see how that works out :-).

      As for WIP inspiration, I find that strikes in the shower. Maybe get yourself some Aquanotes and see if that helps! I swear I’m going to buy some one day. Problem is, my guys will probably doodle on them!

      Kels

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 7:21 am
  2. Great tips, Kelsey! *scurries off to clean messy desk…*

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | May 20, 2013, 7:55 am
  3. Morning Kelsey!

    Ah, you KNOW how I am about being organized – it’s nonexistent in my vocabulary. BUT I did install Reminder Fox…a little plugin for my firefox browser that lets me keep important dates plugged into it. It chimes a sound or pops up when I’m supposed to be doing something. Now as long as I remember to put the dates in, I’m good!

    I’m also a huge believer in using the recorder on my phone – my best story ideas come when I’m sleeping or driving. I leave myself little voice notes, which sometimes I forget about until a month or so later! But it’s the thought that counts, right?

    =)

    Great to see you again!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | May 20, 2013, 8:50 am
    • Carrie –

      I’m a BIG fan of my phone’s recorder. The trick is to transcribe those notes every Friday. I’ve gotten some nice scene and blog post ideas that way.

      Love the Reminder Fox – now I may have to check out using Firefox! I’m a Safari gal now.

      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 10:01 am
  4. In my former life, I used to be considered an organized person. But an hour a week?? To do those seven steps would take me at least four hours. Maybe five. I actually used to spend my Sunday afternoons doing pretty much that. But now, I must do the work itself…
    But everyone’s process is different! Just as our writing processes are.

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | May 20, 2013, 9:54 am
  5. Hi Kelsey!

    My organizations skills were tested this morning as I sorted colors and whites while doing laundry. The only time I make a list is when I’m having a party and I need to make sure I have all of the ingredients for the menu. But to my credit, I organized three huge storage boxes of files and decided there’s no need to keep three years worth of utility bills. :)

    I’ve been using a tiny recorder (backs of receipts and envelopes from junk mail) to jot down story ideas for a couple of years. I type them out every month on the laptop.

    Here’s my organizational tip: I use a Kespon (Guard Your I.D.) stamp to blot out my address on all the junk mail before I toss it in recycling, which means there’s a lot less to shred every week.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | May 20, 2013, 4:04 pm
    • Jen –

      I’ll have to check out the Kespon. I try to shred about once a month and it seems to work for me. Guess that’s because the junk mail decreases when you move as much as we do :-).

      And hey, dealing with three boxes of files will get you a gold star!

      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 4:30 pm
  6. I don’t have a weekly process, but I do make lists and use my computer calendar and To Do list. However, I also have lists in various notebooks, phones, and other papers floating around. I have to write my instant “OH NO MUST DO” immediately or I lose the thought. Which makes for a lot of floating lists.
    And I hate filing and recording, so I am really bad about letting that pile up on my desk. In fact, my desk is a holder of stuff and I actually write on my couch.
    I’m going to try your method. Thank you!

    Posted by Larissa Reinhart | May 20, 2013, 6:35 pm
    • Larissa –

      I agree that it’s a pain in the rear to transcribe all those random notes. Honestly, I dread that part of my process :-). But when I go back looking for something, it’s right there in my Scrivener file where it’s supposed to be. That, I love!

      The one notebook–a regular spiral–method really works for me.

      Thanks for stopping by today!
      Kelsey

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 9:31 pm
  7. Hello, my friend! These are great tips. I used to have a process. I don’t know what happened. LOL. I do like the idea of spending an hour each week clearing the mess. That might be a Friday afternoon task that I could force myself to do.

    I also love the idea of the binder. I think that would be a big help to me. I typically jot notes on any scrap of paper within reach and wind up with a stack to deal with. I can see how the spiral would keep the mess at bay. I’ll try both and report back!

    Thanks for a great post!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | May 20, 2013, 8:17 pm
    • Adrienne –

      This is a method I initially developed when I did job development for MBA students and needed to input notes on the contacts I made. Each week, I would add my notes to my contact management software (at that time Goldmine), so I always knew the last interaction I had with a potential employer. It made me a believer in decent record keeping – :-).

      Let me know if the one notebook works for you!
      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 9:33 pm
  8. I love the excerpt, Kelsey – I’m looking forward to reading the whole book!

    I’m very glad an image of my desk doesn’t show up when I post my comment. I do have organized filing cabinets – and even organized files on my computer – but my desk is a different story.

    It was clean and neat for about a month after we moved in, but now it’s back to normal. I have a bigger desk surface than I had at my old house, but it’s all on one level. My older-but-smaller desk had space for the computer monitor, tower and printer to go on a raised shelf, and now those items share space with my desktop supplies (paper, stapler, reading glasses, post-it notes and – okay, I’ll admit it – a small space filled with nail polish, quick dry top coat, etc., in case I’m overcome with an urgent need to add more glitter to my nails.

    Anyway, I’ve bookmarked this and hopefully it will help me get more organized.

    Thanks so much, Kelsey!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 20, 2013, 9:14 pm
    • Becke –

      Everyone has a different method :-). My desk has standard things on it too, but when it gets messier than those handful of things, I eventually have to come to the surface and muck it off. I try to do it at the end of the day, so I have a fresh surface the next morning.

      I have a set of drawers from Ikea that keep all my flotsam corralled behind my desk.

      Thanks for the compliment on the excerpt!
      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 20, 2013, 9:35 pm
  9. You’re one of the busiest gals I know — but you always seem to do it with a big ol’ Texas-sized grin on that face.

    I’m counting the days to your release in August!!

    Thanks for the organizational tips…I’m trying. I tackled the clean out the purse for today. One step in the right direction. A start.
    :)
    Hugs and happy writing~

    Posted by Nancy Naigle | May 20, 2013, 10:36 pm
  10. Kelsey,

    For starters, Great Post! I’m a virgo so I suppose by nature I am a bit of a neat freak organizer. Oddly enough, I’m not one to use a calendar. And when it comes to note taking or story ideas, I write on my forearm with a Sharpie! That way I don’t lose my notes as I tend to do.

    Thanks for the great ideas!
    HH

    Posted by HH | May 21, 2013, 2:08 pm
    • HH –

      LOVE the sharpie idea. Won’t wash off until you’ve got it in your head :-). I’m also a virgo, and although my desk looks like a hurricane hit it right now, I’ll have it cleaned up again at the end of the day.

      I love learning new techniques from folks, and I’ve found that my process evolves. This one is working for me for now!

      K-

      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 22, 2013, 3:36 pm
  11. Great post. I’m going to try and incorporate some of this to keep myself more organized and on track. Thank you!

    Posted by Rene Gilley | May 21, 2013, 6:53 pm

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