Organizing My Thoughts

Last week, Joanna talked about revision, and how to manage the process with multiple projects in the works. Where do you begin?

I have a new novel outlined, a novel in revision, and several picture books straining to get out of my head. However, this last month of warm weather has taken me away from my writing. For good reasons: swimming, nature walks, bike riding, discovering dinosaurs, and drawing with chalk on the driveway. All of these activities and adventures brought precious moments of laughter, joy, and sweetness. They actively took up the conscious part of my brain, relegating my writing thoughts to the back of the line.

This week school began again. My house is quieter, and my time is freer. So how do I get my writing to again demand its place at the front? It’s hard to know where to begin when you have a head full of different projects in different stages.

Perhaps my son’s LEGO collection can shed some light (bear with me). He has a large collection of pieces, some similar, some specialized. It includes large airplane wings and car frames. There are medium-sized long pieces perfect for creating apartment buildings or shopping centers. There are tiny pieces that make great headlights, and those that sparkle when made into flashlights.

My son prefers to build his own creations, rather than build a kit once and put it on a shelf. He has many ideas in his head, and some days he can’t build fast enough to keep up with all of them.  So with this large diverse collection, how do we keep him organized so that he can build most effectively and efficiently?

We assessed the types and quantities of his pieces, and bought some storage boxes and bins. We spent a Saturday taking his two large bins of pieces and sorting them. And sorting them. And sorting them some more. His collection went from this:

Photo by Katie Cullinan

To this:

Photo by Katie Cullinan

So what does this have to do with my writing? Right now I have many pieces, projects, and writing tasks in the works.  I have outlined a new novel to be written, which means more research along the way. I have a novel in revision, which is in need of reframing and simplifying. I have three newer picture book manuscripts that have been made into dummy books. These need prioritization, and then new query letters readied for agents. In a few months, November will be upon us and I need to decide whether to participate this year in PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) or NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and then get prepared.

So perhaps the best way to get started is to get organized. My files are organized. My notes are organized. What are not organized are my thoughts. Which item should take priority? Is one more important?

Writing out what I have in the works (above) has at least helped me assess the pieces.  Now on to one project at a time.  My new novel’s characters are screaming the loudest, so I’ll dedicate this upcoming week to them. Maybe I’ll take a break mid-week and send out some query letters.

Hopefully I’ll be writing a post next month about the first draft I’ve completed on my new novel. And then on to the next project.

The challenge (as it is with my son) is to keep all the pieces organized and in their places.  Let’s hope we can meet the challenge. He and I feel so much happier when the pieces of our creative processes are organized.

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