Thursday, May 20, 2010

Organization of a Creative Life... Part 1: The Basics

I have heard that many people think that artist and writers are very disorganized and maybe some are, but I fall on the other end of that in many different ways. I'm a very Capricorn writer, which to me means organized and dedicated.

If you're not someone who loves organization, this blog post may bore you to tears, so please feel free to move along to something more interesting.  But as someone who actually enjoys being organized, I like to know how others do it, so below (besides some other Capricorn writers to prove I'm not alone) are some of the ways I stay organized.

Here are a few other Capricorns who are writers:

Bly, Robert (23 December)
Duffy, Carol Ann (23 December)
Kipling, Rudyard (30 December)
Lee, Stan (28 December)
London, Jack (12 January)
Miller, Henry (26 December)
Milne, A.A. (18 January)
Poe, Edgar Allan (19 January)
Salinger, J.D. (1 January)
Sandburg, Carl (6 January)
Stafford, William (17 January)
Tolkien, J.R.R. (3 January)

I also share a birthday with Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Kranz, and Dave Matthews.

For my personality, I dislike clutter and mess. I like lists, order, and plans.  Sometimes I rebel against this, but ultimately, I know, this is who I am.  It took me quite awhile to realize I could be an artistic person AND be organized. I always thought disorder and artistic/creative had to go hand-in-hand, but they don't.

My organization may not sound like a "normal" artist or writer, but for me to have that space to create, I need order.  And I believe in discipline, routine and habits (good habits, I should add).

Here are a few of the tools that allow me to keep order in my life so my creative life can flourish.

1) Google Calendar - I honestly would not be able to live without this. It keeps all my dates, appts, readings, schedule, writing times, in order so I don't have to worry about what I'm forgetting. It sends me reminders, puts my husband's and daughter's schedules in different colors so I know where everyone is. It is probably the best calendar I've used, plus it syncs with my Mac/iPhone.

2) AMPAD "The Organizer" - I've been using these since my first job in 1993 and I love these for keeping a main To-Do list.   Everything that comes to mind goes on this list.  I have each page organized into sections:  Home / Writing/ Crab Creek Review / Blog/ Creative/ My Book

This is my master To-Do list. I write everything on here so I don't forget (Have I mentioned I have a not-so-great memory, so this helps me live my life without feeling as if I've forgotten to something major).

I keep this list on my desk and about 3 times a week use it to fill out the daily book, which I use below...

3) The BusyBodyBook: While this book was designed for families so you could mark where everyone has planned each day, I used mine as a way to focus my Main To-Do list into 3-5 small tasks a day.

This book is great because I don't feel overwhelmed if for my daily To-Do I have "submit some poems," "Proof first section of book," and "Read fiction submissions."  That is doable.  My major to-do list can get a little large.  It was Tatyana Mishel who first clued me into do this.  She said, "Choose 1-3 things you can do each day and get done," that way I don't feel overwhelmed by the long list of chores.

I found this book online and love it. But you don't have to buy the book, the site provides free downloads of the pages to help organize your day.


These 3 items pretty much organize my daily/normal life so my creative life can thrive.  They allow me not to feel overwhelmed by the rest of the "stuff" that comes with life and to keep things in order so I can create.
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