Friday, August 22, 2008

Clean and Tidy...Not

I have a confession. My office is a mess. It looks like someone shook it. I have stacks of papers to be filed--out with the old health insurance, in with the new--a box of papers to be shredded, files and drafts waiting to become orderly. It has never been this bad. And it's keeping me from writing. I blame it on the internet.

Unbeknown to me, when we first went wireless, I poached my neighbor's connection. When my neighbor moved her office to the other side of the house, I lost my office cyber-connection. No booster could reliably reach from the top floor front of my house to my rear basement hide-away. So I took to my laptop and worked wherever. And instead of filing daily as I always had, I brought stuff in there to deal with later. And I found out that later just gets later...and later. And now I hate going in there.

So I am taking this opportunity to publicly declare that by this time next month I will have a clean, sleek, totally functioning office space. Including an internet connection. I'm going vertical, putting up shelves and buying every kind of container I can find to house every loose item in that room.

So as I tackle this challenge I ask you all for your best tips for setting up your writer's space. I need your help!


  1. When you're done with your office, will you come do mine??

    My problem is my desk. It's small. On it I keep a pile of books (whatever historical period I am researching) and a file with my notes close at hand. Then, I have other "stuff" - a brochure from NJ PAC, a catalog from my favorite store, minutes from a board meeting of the non-profit I'm involved with, and whatever mss from the group are waiting to be read and critiqued. I also have other little tidbits, my ipod, digital camera, rewards cards, gift cards and a VERY large coffee mug.

    I've tried using baskets to keep my books and research neat, It looks nice and keeps the paper off my desk, but then it's not handy. I've also used a stool, the top of my printer, and the floor as an extension of my desk, which allows me to spread out, but doesn't exactly solve the problem.

    I've thought all I need is a bigger desk, but that might make the problem worse.

    I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's suggestions, because I have none myself!

  2. Okay, I don't even have a desk! I use my laptop sitting in a comfy chair. On the table to my right I have: my printer, mugs with pencils and pens, a little clock, a couple of containers for paper clips, lots of Post-Its, and a paper pile containing what I'm currently working on, what has been submitted, and what is up next to be critiqued.

    On my left, I have a small antique child's trunk piled with books: thesaurus, rhyming dictionaries, and all sorts of "craft of writing books."

    The best investment I ever made was my two drawer file cabinet . . . though sometimes the pile on top of "to be filed" grows hefty.

    I'm generally pretty neat and organized, unless I'm creating a blizzard of paper strips to dummy a picture book.

  3. How did I tidy up my office? I started working on a book. Suddenly, I noticed a million things that desperately needed to be cleaned, filed, sorted, donated, dumped, rearranged, you name it. Since I started writing for children, I have never been more organized in my life. My book, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. At least I have a spanking clean office to procrastinate in!

  4. Okay, what used to be my office is now a disaster area that needs to be cleaned up to turn into a nursery. So I'm not the one to give much advice in this area.

    I know I need to get my file system more organized as far as rough drafts and potential ideas go, though at least my favorite writing books are all neatly organized on one shelf (that will now need to be relocated downstairs).

    But I did come up with one neat little idea to keep track of all my submissions of different manuscripts. I have one submission email that I continue to update about the status of different manuscripts. Categories include: Currently in circulation, waiting to be put into circulation, accepted for publication, published and contest wins. I just move things from one category to another now as responses come in. And add brief notes about where it went and how they responded. Then I mail the updated email to my inbox. It's very cool to be able to see everything at once.