Practice Makes Perfect: Organizing Your Writing Life


Before I get started I just wanted to share that I won the THIRD PLACE POETRY PRIZE at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival. My plan is to find a way to attend and read my work to the crowd there. I’m so excited and honored to be among the handful of winners! </bragging>

Now for today’s thoughts…

I found that when I absolutely suck at something, turning it into a spreadsheet or list helps me wrap my arms around it enough to get something done. I started doing this at work after I got a promotion, because my head was spinning and I was terrified half the time. When I noticed that my series of lists and spreadsheets was helping me get along and get ahead at work, I knew what my writing life had been missing… organization.

If you’re new here, you might have missed my last post on practicality. Don’t worry it’s here. This post was an introduction into how I’ve started viewing what I want in life not as dreams but as goals. As actual tangible things I can hold in my hand (or at least link to).

Seeing as I don’t want to be known as someone who spews a bunch of “I got myself together” posts without sharing any of the actual items I use, today I wanted to share the Essay Tracker and Submission Tracker I’ve been using to trace my work and my submissions.

Essay Tracker

Found here, this little baby has helped me to visualize everything I am working on in a snapshot.  I can see just how many pieces I’ve started… and just how many I haven’t finished. How long it has been since I worked on something and how many revisions it has been through. My current list has about 20 UNFINISHED projects. Guh!

I am still tweaking how I track specific milestones, and you may need to come up with your own version, but so far, by just seeing all the work I have ahead of me laid out puts me at ease. I don’t feel so much like a tornado any longer.

Submission Tracker

This friend can be found here. This is an adapted version I color code based on status of submission. The original tracker I downloaded and revised was from Writer’s Digest and shared with me by my friend Rosemary. Yellow means submitted, red means rejected, and green means accepted. I also like to go through and highlight any deadlines coming up fast in purple to help my eyes. They’re getting old and tired too! This list hovers around 10-15 opportunities at a time, though honestly it is currently on hold while I try and get some more essays actually finished.

And that’s it! Organizing myself was one of those stupid, simple steps I just missed when getting my writing life together. I chose not to see the easy way to things because I was afraid of seeing the actual work it was going to take to get myself somewhere. This is a work in progress, of course. Keeping these things updated is an added step, I’ve been disgustingly busy with work and my social life (haha I do have one, guys), and my writing has taken a hit.

That said, looking at all of the work I’ve already done and all the great opportunities out there for writing makes me stupid with excitement.


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