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Tierney James, Author

Lipstick & Danger

A Prescription for Writer Management

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 by   No Comments Yet | Posted in Uncategorized
I can’t speak for other writers but I usually have more than one active story line running in my head. To complicate matters those story lines are in a variety of genres. There’s my action/adventure/thrillers I adore writing. My first children’s book comes out in a few weeks. I have a historical fiction piece that takes place in Tennessee that I’m working on from time to time. Then there’s my fantasy series for YA I’ve played with for years. I used to think I could work on them all at the same time. When I’d get slammed up against that writer’s-block-wall I’d just switch gears and work on one of my other projects. That was fine for a while until I realized one day that my character had turned into a six foot two elf carrying an AK-47 and spoke with a southern accent. I decided maybe I should stick with a story until the manuscript showed signs of completion before tackling another genre.

Managing those constant entanglements forced me to set up a system to keep everything straight. Being a lover of paper, notebooks and stationary in general this made my duties a joy. Every story gets its very own notebook and label. I keep them neatly stacked on a shelf where I can pull one down and make notes of something that occurred to me while I might still be working another on project. I also keep a small spiral notebook with me just in case inspiration hits me in the cleaning products aisle at Wal-Mart.

Other helpful things I do is keep biography sheets on my characters.They’ll be in the character profile of the notebook. Maybe the elf doesn’t like human peanut butter but loves it when you smear it on Brussels sprouts. (I know! Yuk!) By the time I write something I know a great deal about my characters. For my longer novels a notebook has broken writer’s block because it’s full of ideas for the story. I’ve even created a psychologist to evaluate my characters from his POV. It’s all in the notebook.

Over the weekend I was celebrating my granddaughter’s birthday.  An opening scene for book three of my Enigma Series popped in my head right when it was time to blow out the two candles on her beautiful duck birthday cake. Although I’m just finishing book two I’ve already started a notebook for Broken Commandment. I can’t get the scene out of my head so I’m writing it into the notebook today so I won’t forget. Will I use it when I actually begin? Maybe. I’ve already got the summary, characters and several other ideas brewing there. It’s like speed for the writer. I can hit the ground running when it’s time to plunge into anther adventure.

You cannot overlook the amazing laptop either! Each book, story or magazine submission (all the articles are  in one place) are kept on a flash drive. I label and keep them in a safe container. Sometimes when I travel I take a few with me to work on. I cannot encourage you enough to ALWAYS back your work up. To lose your novel because the only place you had it saved was on your computer is a crime against imagination. SAVE SAVE SAVE  It takes only a second. Keeping the life of your characters on a flash drive is simple and an easy way to reconnect whenever there’s a need. I keep research ideas, websites and the actual manuscript here for management purposes. Don’t put the elf story with some Captain Hunk on the same flash drive. They just might kill each other. (Whoa! Wouldn’t that be a good story. Better write that down now!)

So what about a hard copy of your work. Here is how I handle that one. Right now I’m working on the Winds of Deception, the second book in the Enigma Series. When I’ve written several chapters I email a file to a local print shop to make me a copy. It’s .05 a page. I can’t print it that cheap at home. Seeing it in print helps me see where I need to edit. All those chapters go into a notebook. There’s a feeling of accomplishment when I get each chapter in that binder. I make the corrections and keep writing.

Writers live busy lives. We don’t just sit at our laptops sipping coffee and ripping the shirts off muscled angels disguised as humans all day. Life is confusing. Get organized. 

Be the first to comment on "A Prescription for Writer Management"

  1. Comment by Carolyn Branch
    September 23, 2013 2:51 pm

    Wish I was that organized! It sounds lovely as I sit here amongst drifts of paper and lopsided stacks of books. . .

  2. Comment by sdkeeling.com
    September 23, 2013 3:18 pm

    That's a lot of projects/genres to juggle. No wonder you've learned to be so organized!

  3. Comment by Sara Jordan
    September 23, 2013 7:48 pm

    I WISH I was that organized! Thanks for the tips, I'm inspired to put some order to all my clutter.

  4. Comment by Lisa Wells
    September 23, 2013 8:11 pm

    Great ideas on how to stay organized and sane.

  5. Comment by Beth
    September 23, 2013 9:00 pm

    You are super organized. I try to be but fail because, like you, I work on many projects, for many groups and write in a variety of genres.

    I used to have a notebook for each writers' group–ORA, SI, and OWL–but you know how I always run late, so I grab the first one that I see. Naturally, they're all jumbled together now.

    Great ideas. Maybe I should hire you to get me organized. 🙂

  6. Comment by Susan Keene
    September 24, 2013 3:13 pm

    Wow, you're organized. More power to you. My stuff is in folders stacked on the far corner of my desk and at this present moment, the cat is taking a nap on them.

  7. Comment by VJ Schultz
    September 25, 2013 5:20 am

    Great information on organizing, but I sooooo want to read about that 6'2" elf with the AK47 and Southern accent. When are you writing that story? 🙂

  8. Comment by Cara Bristol
    September 25, 2013 12:35 pm

    I wish I could be as organized as you. I do keep a notebook, but I don't have one for each story. Right now I have three stories I'm working on. I swore I'd never do this again — would only write one at a time, but here I am.


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