I smell marshmellows!

Camp is right around the corner – just a few weeks away now. I will admit, this session snuck up on me – I’m not prepared in the least to hunker down and write next month. I know that writing 50,000 words in a month is a huge commitment, and committing to this several months out of the year is daunting.

I also know that I will still find myself at the keyboard come April 1st. As much as it pains me to begin a novel and not see it through to its conclusion, I know that if I don’t start writing, the novel will never be completed. I can’t let that happen – there are far too many worlds and far too many characters in my mind, and there are far too many shenanigans to be had in the pages of the novels I will have occasion to write.

For the next few weeks, I’m dedicating my time to cleaning out my computer. I booted my laptop the other day and began to look into my work in the past, and  my jaw dropped. There are dozens of half finished novels hidden in the memory banks of my computer, and probably hundreds of ideas what to write next. I saved everything that I might want to use, everything that I wrote (including multiple copies of some of my projects), and everything that I though my inspire me to keep writing. It’s time to simplify things in my writing cave, so that I can actually be productive this year.

First thing on the agenda: disorganize everything!

I know, it sounds really counterproductive, but hear me out. I’m looking at probably 50-100 folders on my computer that I honestly can’t remember what is inside of them. Its time to pull EVERYTHING out of storage and drop it into one huge folder on my desktop. All of the sub folders that I have created for my writing files are to be deleted. There will be nowhere for my ideas to hide.

Second: Open everything and read the first fifteen lines

I judge the novels I read by the first chapter. If I can’t find myself hooked into the story, or seriously confused enough to keep reading past that point, I pass on the book. I know, I make snap judgements, but that keeps my time devoted to the books that really call out to me. My writing should have the same influence on my audience as I ask others’ writing to have on myself. If I can read through the first few paragraphs of my own writing and still be intrigued to continue writing, then that file is safe. If I can’t get through that first fifteen lines without wanting to close out of the file, it’s time to say goodbye. (I use this method for all of my ML files as well – old punch cards, games, agendas for events, etc. are all thrown out if I’m not totally in love with the contents. There is no reason to keep these things lying around in my computer if I don’t plan on using them in the future.)

Third: Create a new system to organize the remaining files

Once the dead plots are buried in the trash, its time to make new homes for what remains. I am planning on keeping everything simple this year:

  1. ML Documents
    1. Pep Talks
    2. Event documents
    3. Flyers and Printables
    4. Library Connection
    5. Pictures
  2. Projects
    1. Novels
    2. Word Count Trackers
    3. Poetry
    4. Scripts

Fourth: Use the system and WRITE

Anything that I want to save from this point in regards to writing or NaNo needs to fall into the above categories. If I can’t find a place for the item, it doesn’t get saved. This will help keep from being overwhelmed while looking for information and hopefully keep me on track for the coming year.

Fifth: Clean!

It helps when the place you’re going to call your writer’s cave is actually a pleasant place to write. Currently my office has been turned into the storage room of the house, and there is just barely a path to my desk. I want to feel at home when I walk into the room, and want to stay in there more than a few minutes, so it’s time to apply the same principles to the room that I do to my computer files!


What are your plans to prepare for the coming month of writing? What goals are you setting for yourself before April gets here, to help you through the month?


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