I’m running a poll on my writing blog (please vote) asking writers about their greatest writing challenge.
To date, 40 per cent have chosen “completing projects I start”.
My theory is that it’s hard for writers to complete projects (especially long projects like books) because it’s hard to manage all their material. Their research, notes, ideas and multiple drafts, can lead to confusion. And this confusion leads to procrastination. I give you a wonderful writing process to follow in my Easy-Write Process, which eliminates procrastination because you always know what you should be doing next.
But how do you manage all the bits and pieces you need for even the smallest writing project?
My solution, and that of many other writers, is Scrivener.
There’s an excellent case study on managing lots of drafts and information here. This article, Literature and Latte – Scrivener Case Studies, describes novelist Monica McCarty’s process. She keep’s her series’ Bible in a separate Scrivener file:
“McCartyâ€™s Series Bible is divided into three folders: ideas, proposals and books one through to 12. â€˜When I transferred the information from Word it consisted of about four different folders containing some thirty plus documents from all over the place,â€™ she says. â€˜Now, if I suddenly have an idea for book 8 I can go straight in to the right place and add it rather than having to scroll down an entire document and look around all night for it.”
If you don’t want to splash out for Scrivener, I suggest you keep a project journal.
John Steinbeck’s journal for East of Eden, kept as a series of letters, has been published: Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, of course. 🙂
Your aim in writing your book’s journal shouldn’t be to have it published; it’s to keep you “in” the book as you’re writing it, and to keep track of all your materials.
Before Scrivener, I kept all my project journals in MS Word documents. If I misplaced a piece of research, a simple search helped me to locate the section of the document in which I linked to the research on my computer, or on the Web. It wasn’t an ideal solution, but it proved effective.
Big tip: do keep all your thinking about the book in Scrivener, or in your book journal too. Get all your complaints and angst out of your head, and onto your computer screen. (Don’t delete these.) Making your thought processes conscious in this way keeps you writing: your negative thoughts don’t get a chance to fester.
Writing a book is a long project. You’ll complete your book if you stay organized.
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