Let’s face it, when you’re a writer who not only writes for other publishers, but who also self publishes, you are running your own business. This means you have A LOT more to do than just writing and meeting deadlines. There’s quarterly taxes, blogs, author events/appearances, social media, and a million and one other things you have to keep track of. It’s the nature of the beast. Because amidst the book cover approval, edits, queries, writing, marketing, formatting, business to-do’s, day-job, and errand running — you still have to do the laundry, feed the cats, and find time for your family.
So in desperation to organize myself, I pulled out my trusty tablet and installed about 150 apps from project management software, to-do lists, and other organizational software only to discover that most of it was almost too complicated to be useful, or it was just not helpful at all.
I’ve tried: OneNote, Evernote, Eclipse Manager, Trello, Priority Matrix, Eylean Tasks, Task Manager, Project Task Board, Taskify, Get It Done Tasks, MinimaList, Taskorami, To-Do’s, and Chaos Control (among others).
Admittedly there are only three of those programs left on my tablet. I actually like Eclipse Manager as a task management program for writing mostly because of the way it organizes projects. But there is a learning curve and it can be rather cumbersome to set up. So while pretty visually, meh. I find myself struggling with the setup. I keep MinimaList because I love the simple to-do list. And finally, I think I’ve fallen in love with a little program called Chaos Control. It’s like the best of both the Eclipse Manager and MinimaList. It has the ease of use, it’s intuitive, and I find it works with my rather chaotic brain. I am seriously considering dumping Eclipse Manager in favor of Chaos Control. MinimaList is sticking around. It’s a great, simple to-do list where you can create different lists for different things.
On the social media front, a lot of people like TweetDeck. I’m a Hootsuite girl myself. Hootsuite allows you to tap into your Twitter and FB pages all in one shot. I also have my blog linked to my Twitter, which posts automatically to my FB. The blog also automatically posts to my Tumblr. If you like picture blogging, Instagram will also post to your Twitter or FB, or if you’re like me you just send it to Twitter and it automatically posts to FB. It’s too much to keep up with otherwise.
Of course amidst it all, trying to wrangle one’s creativity into a set schedule is still easier said than done. Sure, I can sit down and force myself to write between 9am and 11am every Thursday morning if I want to, but creative bursts and inspiration have this nasty habit of rearing their pretty little heads at inconvenient times whether they’re scheduled or not. Like while driving, or at three in the morning. Or while you’re listening to aunt Margaret go over her church group agenda for the next month. This is why writers tend to have notebooks and pads of paper everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE.
On that same token, a schedule is essential. I’m a somewhat visual person when it comes to organization, which is likely why I’ve had such a hard time using a digital day planner. Sometimes actually writing things down helps me. I used to keep a day planner, but it was so heavy I stopped carrying it around. Also, there are a lot of tasks I do that would benefit from a set schedule. Like formatting, or taxes, or line edit corrections.
Don’t get me wrong — I want to be organized. I want to have a set schedule. However – I don’t think I work as well under that kind of pressure. Deadlines are one thing, but telling my muse she’s going to only work between 9-11 on select days is like trying to get a three-year-old to eat plain steamed broccoli. She might just shut her mouth, cross her arms over her chest, and pout in passive resistance.
Perhaps some of us work better in chaos. I don’t know. It seems to work for me. I’ve somehow managed to write over twenty (and climbing) books and countless novellas and short stories this way. Mostly because there is one thing I can be sure of — my muse loves to tell stories and share information. She also loves revision. So even if she’s being stubborn and making me drag the story out of her, eventually it will build up and she’ll have no choice but to release it all. She’s had the same MO for forty-three-years and I seriously doubt she’s going to change her ways now.
Does anyone else thrive in the chaos but wish they could be like some writers who only work from 9-3, five days a week?? :/
Meanwhile, I’ll strive for some kind of schedule. Perhaps it will take, perhaps not. As long as the productivity continues it’s all good.