Writing Spaces & Mapping Ideas

Organization — it can be a woeful topic for writers, but when we get it right (meaning right for each of us in a personal way) it can be a beautiful thing — and spark a lot of creativity.

There are two types of organization on my writing mind today:

1) Writing Space (my desk): I don’t like to write amidst a pile of junk. A clean, organized space always helps me think. Trouble is…my desk is usually a mess. I’m a collector of piles. When things look messy, I make a pile. When papers are strewn about, I make a pile. When bills are waiting to be paid, I make a pile. If I have books waiting to be read or I’m done reading, I make a pile. Result? Lots of piles on my desk. I don’t like looking at these piles while I write. They just nag at me and remind me of things to do and things undone. I want an invisibility cloak to stuff the piles under and make them vanish from my sight — but unfortunately I lost Harry’s phone number.

So here is my question to you writers, editors, and work-at-homers…What are your tips/tricks for organizing your desk or work space? On my homepage next to this post you’ll see a picture of a little (blue-green!) book cart that I bought (it makes my heart so happy!). It helped me to clear off the piles of books on my desk. Any other tips?

2) Mapping Ideas for my WIP: By now, we’ve all seen the screenshot of J.K. Rowling’s handwritten equivalent of a plot spreadsheet for Harry Potter. My notes are usually also handwritten, but sometimes I jot ideas down on multiple pages and it is hard to keep track. After I have a good solid draft, I’m a bit more organized and go through the pages with an orange (yes, orange) felt-tipped marker and colorful little tab stickers to help me find the places that sorely need more work.

I’ve seen other writers use poster-sized paper filled with colorful Post-It notes. Others use bulletin boards pinned with sketches or magazine pages for inspiration. Still the more tech-minded use writing programs to keep track of characters and plot arc. I’m fascinated by these varying approaches. Tell me…what do you do? I want to learn!

Please feel free to leave me some notes in the comments. Better yet, feel free to tweet me some pics @JenniferMaryG

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