Sunday, March 13, 2011


It is easy to lose track of things when you're writing.

Like what time it is. Or the cup of coffee getting cold on the corner of the desk. Or which project needs your attention next. Which is closely tied to, which stories have I subbed and where?

This last one is a real bugger. I spend a lot of time worrying about it. Have I subbed to the right market? Have I subbed to a market that doesn't take simultaneous subs and is going to bring the wrath of the editor Powers-that-Be down on my head? (I hear they are more deadly than my own fearsome editing machete.)

I've tried a bunch of different things to organize what I'm working on and what I've done with it: spreadsheets, index cards, a text file, a piece of paper thumbtacked over my desk. So far, I have had only middling success with any of them.

Of the things I've tried, index cards have been the most useful. (Spreadsheets get complicated and I always wind up with invalid commands and BS that I just don't have brainspace for.) I write the name of the story at the top of the card. Immediately underneath I write [Drafting] or [Revising] or [Subbed] depending on which stage of the process I'm at. Underneath that I write a logline. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should tell me at a glance what the story is about. (Willa must choose between her hatred of the British Empire and her love of the Queen's son.) On the flip side of the card I write down any potential markets.

It works pretty well. (Until the cats knock the stack of cards under the desk and the next time I find them they're soaked in pee.)

But the thing I've learned most this week has been simply to keep working. Even if it isn't organized. Even if I don't have a master plan about where to submit the next short story I write.

Because sometimes organization is another word for procrastination.

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