Yesterday I received a message from a writer. The gist was that she'd lost all enthusiasm and motivation for her current project. Should she keep working on the project, or start a new one?
I told her to start a new project. It would help her to get her enthusiasm back, and it might even spark ideas for the project she was stuck on.
How many projects are you working on? I find that I always have somewhere between ten and 20 projects ongoing; this seems average for most full-time writers.
When you're working on several projects, organization is a must, otherwise you fail to meet deadlines, and this is a cardinal sin for a writer.
Here are some organizational tips which work for me (please share your own tips in the Comments):
1. Keep each project in its own folder in your computer's file system
Things is my to do/ task list manager. I drag the projects folder into the Active Projects list in Things, so I can open the folder at a click. I love Things, because I can see how many active projects I have at a glance, and can track every task in a project very simply;
2. When you get a new project, start work on it IMMEDIATELY
Over the years, I've found that if I spend as little as 20 minutes roughing out a project, and listing my initial ideas, the project flows more smoothly. My theory on why projects are easier when I do this is that I've broken the inertia -- my mind starts working on the project when I'm doing other things, and even when I'm sleeping.
3. Do something on every active project most days. As a deadline approaches, spend more time on the project
I've found that spending at least five minutes on every active project every day, helps me to stay motivated, and "in" the project. If you leave a project for several days, you're more likely to procrastinate, because you've lost your initial enthusiasm for the project.
4. Create templates for EVERYTHING
I have templates for my Terms of Service, invoices, statements, briefing sheets, project outlines, newsletters like my Fab Freelance Writing Ezine, ebooks... Templates save time and energy.
Often my initial work on a project (see #2 above) involves calling up a template or two or three (if you use a Mac, investigate LaunchBar 5, it's brilliant), and creating the basic documents for the project.
5. Backup, backup, backup!
Your computer's hard drive will die. It's not a matter of IF, just of WHEN. Create a backup strategy which works for you, and follow it.
And yes, this means keeping off-site backups too. I use ZumoDrive and DropBox for off-site backups -- great programs, because they're completely transparent in use.
All your organizational efforts will be for naught if your hard drive crashes, so please take this seriously. This is vital, whether you sell your writing services, or create information products.
Around 15 years ago my computer's hard drive died, and my tape backup was corrupted. I didn't have an off-site backup... The memories still make me shudder. So backup, please. :-)
Are you an organized writer, or a completely disorganized one? If you're disorganized, why? Share all in the Comments.
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