A Dip Into Organization Land

So, I went on record that 2015 was a pretty depressing year for writing. It’s the first year I didn’t finish a single project since I got off a 3 year long accidental writing hiatus in 2011. And I spent a lot of time beating myself up for that.

The thing is, if I had just stopped beating myself up, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find a project I could stick with. I was just shoving things down my throat until I vomited story all over the place. And it was during that recovery period that the right ideas found me. Ideas I’ve had for months, mind you. They didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. They were just waiting patiently for me to calm down so I wouldn’t ruin them the way I ruined so many others.

One of the things I do with this site is use it to keep up with my other projects. If I put it in a file on my computer, I’ll never look at it, except that one time a year I go through the plot bunny field and laugh at all the horrible ideas I have and delete none of them. Hey! Maybe one of them is a diamond in disguise. ^_^

At one point last year, I had nearly 30 projects on my list! And while looking at it I thought to myself, “This is terrible!” I felt so overwhelmed and crappy.

The first thing I did was delete everything that stressed me out. I mean, really. If just the thought of working on it is stressing me, it has no business being up for consideration. GONE! Next I axed anything I hadn’t made any brainstorming or plot progress on in the last year, except for one story. And that’s just because I’m ready to give up on it. Yet.

After this, everything in the “ground zero” section was deleted. I always have little bunnies hopping around, did I really did a list of everything I’m thinking about? No.

This caused a chop-crazy mode to be activated, where I cut anything that wasn’t holding on to the fence for dear life. That made me feel better. Lol! It’s like mental clutter, you know. The system doesn’t work if I can’t see the system.

And what is this system? Since you asked. ;P

I have seven categories:
Current Projects – home to the things I’m actively drafting, outlining, or brainstorming
Brainstorming/PrePlanning – home to the projects I’ll check on first when my current project plate is cleared – these are things I’m passively brainstorming or stories I hope are developing in the subconscious while I’m busy
(re)Brainstorming/Re-articulating Spinal Cortex (a Sim’s reference, haha) – the worst category to be in – home to projects I’ve started or finished that are waiting for me to figure out a fix for them or trash them – these are stories I think might be lost causes but I’m just not ready to give up on them yet
On Hold – the second worst category – home to stories that need more brainstorming or other fixes – things in this section are next on the chopping block, but I’m giving them a chance to work something out because I love the idea of them so much
Bake Mode/Concocting – home to crockpot stories I poke at, brainstorm, and try to work the kinks out of between projects
Ground Zero/Building Block Mode – previous home to a list of ideas I was actively considering that has now been squashed to a represent the plot bunny field as a whole
Past Projects – home to things I’ve finished – it used to be called “shelved projects” but that made me feel like a failure so I changed it to this, which I like better, and also because I reserve the right to pull them out and edit them into something more shiny if I ever should feel the need, whereas my story graveyard is where the truly shelved stories go – of course I could always edit those, too, but it’s extremely unlikely

It’s just a way to keep myself organized and to keep up with what I have in different stages of development. It keeps my ideas from interlocking and creating chaos in my brain. Being in the Brainstorming bucket is no guarantee of anything, though. Things hop categories and new ideas show up all the time. One of my current projects, “Songbird,” was in the Bake Mode bucket for months and months until the middle of December where it suddenly sprang out (on it’s own, I should add) into the Brainstorming bucket, and then jumped over the projects ahead of it to land in the Current Project bucket.

Like, how could I not admire that! That’s a story that wants to be told. 😀

Am I the only one who does something like this? Since I write down every single stupid idea I have, I feel like if I institute some kind of hierarchy, it makes them fight harder for my attention. Only the strong survive. ^_^

10 Responses to A Dip Into Organization Land

  1. Good Lord! I don’t tend to have more than two ideas at a time, so no need for me categorize so much. It’s either being worked on or on hold lol. That’s it for me–but with that many ideas,I can totally understand how you need that organization to be like that!

    • Lol! I used to pile everything in a notebook, but then I had a hard time finding a specific idea later when I wanted to expand on it. So I was always grappling for something to work on that made sense.

  2. That IS a story that wants to be told.

    I have a note book (as in paper – old fashioned) where I write down any ideas that have been in my head for more than a few weeks, just so I don’t forget them, and hopefully, one day, they will all find life. There are currently 9 in there. But they are just ideas. I can only work on one idea at a time. I’d get too confused.

    Plus this one story that I started to write after The Point, but I couldn’t stop a different character talking in my head, so I put that story aside and Of Cupcakes… was born. I’m sure I’ll go back to the other story one day, but I’m a firm believer in stories knowing when (and how) they want to be written, so who knows when. When I finished Cupcakes I actually pulled it out, but someone else was talking to me again (a scene, actually, not a character – and yes it was in ideas book), and that is now the WIP I’m working on.

    I like that – only the strong survive!!!!!

    • They definitely know what they want! I’ll line a story up to be worked on next sometimes, and something else always jumps in front of it. If stories want to be written bad enough, they’ll definitely make us pay attentio to them!

  3. What a neat way to organize all of those ideas! I keep a folder where I stuff some into that seem like they might have possibilities some day.

    Usually, the ideas sit in my head for a very long time and stew. I keep a pile of notebooks where I jot down plot and character ideas when they pop up (can’t risk forgetting things either), but with time, it becomes pretty clear which story bunnies have potential and which ones aren’t ever going to make it. The ones that hold on for over a year (*cough* two?) and keep having me running back to those notebooks are the ones I take seriously. Currently, I have two solid ones and two more which are rolling into this category.

    But 30? I’d say you have a lot of writing to do 😉

    • Right! >.<
      I still have my old idea notebook, but it wasn't very organized. I ended up started new notebooks to keep up with the notes for the ideas that were working, so I moved them to the computer to make it easier on myself. I'm so excited about your brewing ideas!!

  4. You deleted things? *flinches* You know, when my house is messy I have a hard time writing. I guess all you needed was to declutter, eh? I keep things in a story idea folder so they don’t bother me unless I’m feeling particularly inspired about one. Then, when I need a new idea it’s waiting for me.

    • Lol! Decluttering is definitely helpful! I think a folder would be more helpful than just piling all of my ideas together in a document like I do now. *yikes* There is something relaxing about knowing we always have something we can work on. 🙂

  5. Oh goodness gracious, Krystal! That’s a lot of categories. When I first started writing I jotted things down on paper and placed them in a binder. Each idea had its own folder where I would place scene ideas, character descriptions, etc. I had one about a mime losing his family 🙁 Anyway, I had a bunch but it had been years since I did anything with them so I threw them all away.

    • That binder sounds awesome, Karla! It’s like organization paradise. Lol! And no one ever writes about mimes! But I understand throwing them out. You get to a point where you know you’re never going to actually do anything with them. I feel like if it’s good enough, I’ll probably remember it.

Hi! ^_^