The Organized Writer-2017

A year ago, I was investigating new ways to keep track of my life. I had evolved from a person who needed a Day Runner to organize family, professional, and pre-published writing lives to a published author with an empty-nest who was no longer on a corporate career path. The revival of the Day Runner in 2016 did not work for me.

In 2017, I tried a Bullet Journal. I made extensive lists of everything I thought I would track: food journal, blog schedule, books to read, brain dumps, dream journal, meal planning, mood tracker, and so on. I bought (a small amount) of washi tape. I bought colored markers. I used an old spiral notebook from my stash.

But my ideas about what I would track weren’t practical for my life. And using a Bullet Journal is all about the individual need.

I do like the layout on which I eventually settled. For months, I convinced myself that sitting down each week to draw my spread for the following week was therapeutic. I gave it a year. A few weeks ago, I even made a spread about what I wanted for next year’s bullet journal. I’ve even narrowed the choice of notebook from my stash to two.

But I’m tired of the set-up work. I need a planner to maintain my life, not the other way around. That’s not to say I won’t ever go back to a Bullet Journal, but I think I want to try something else.

I’ve been looking at Erin Condren. I wince at the cost, but I’m drawn to the lively colors and the ability to customize. I need to explore further.

Swapping Ideas

Yes, there really is such a thing as National Swap Ideas Day. And it’s today!

Authors will recognize this as another way of saying “brainstorm.”

I love to brainstorm. I could not write without my critique group. When someone shares a scene and asks for input, the ideas from others start flying. My local RWA chapter also plays a role in my creative process, although not as intimately as a critique group. The energy in a room of authors bouncing ideas off ideas off random statements is invigorating.

But brainstorming isn’t confined to writers. When I worked in local TV, we sat around brainstorming promotional ideas, special news features for ratings periods, and even stories for the evening news.

When you get together with your siblings to ponder what you should get the parents for the holidays, that’s brainstorming.

The key to successful brainstorming is keeping feedback positive. Stay open minded, and don’t reject suggestions out of hand. Maybe a suggestion won’t work for you, but it could spark another idea that is perfect.

Holiday Weekends

Independence Day falls on a Tuesday this year. I know many Monday-Friday workers who are also taking off Monday, giving themselves a four-day weekend. Not me.

Our Saturday and Sunday filled up months ago. We have wonderful friends and family who like getting together. I usually have a great time when we do.

But sometimes, I like a day to myself. It’s an introvert thing. It’s an author thing. It’s a MJ thing.

I have a real problem understanding a life so frenetically filled with activities that going to the Day Job is a break.

A day to merely write is holy.  So I told my husband: I’m working Day Job on Monday and not doing a blessed thing on Tuesday. Except write.



“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~Douglas Adams

I am on a self-imposed deadline. I’ve set a goal for myself, and I am a very goal-driven person, especially when it comes to my writing. (Cleaning my house, losing weight, exercising–not so much.)

Back in January, something happened at my Day Job that got me to thinking “what if.” If you are a novelist, you know that wondering “what if” is a crucial part of your toolbox. Then I dreamed about the “what if.” I woke up, scratched out the opening scene to a story then dashed off to my RWA chapter meeting, where I read that scene during critique. I received a favorable response. And, as a joke, the working title became Dysto Girl.

I spent my annual January writing retreat working on Dysto Girl. I’ve since tossed quite a bit of what I wrote, because what I thought the story was going to be and what the story has turned out to be are two different things. I am obsessed by this story. By these characters and their situation. My critique group tells me their “Spidey sense is tingling.” And I dream about the story nearly every night. Not because I want to, but because I am a writer and sometimes this happens to me.

Oh, I was distracted in April when one of my publishers put a call out for a Summer Attraction short. I even brainstormed a great idea with my editor. But Dysto Girl sucked me back in.

I have given myself until the end of June to complete the first draft. Okay, maybe July 4th–Independence Day. But after that, I must start work on a three-book series I promised one of my publishers. And I’m excited about the series. I’ve been making notes. I already had the opening line and the basic premise  in mind when I was approached to do the series. I’m not under contract, but I promised, and to me, that’s as good as a contract.

Dysto Girl is not the book of my heart, but the book of my dreams. Literally.