Saturday, May 22, 2010

organization of a Creative Life... Part 2: Finding Your Way


I came across this great photo and quote in Real Simple magazine.  It reads, "One person's mess is merely another person's filing system."  (said my Margo Kaufman).

I cannot say how true that is and something I need to remind myself about, especially while having a smaller person in the house with me.  What I see as a mess, she sees as a creative project.

I think we all have our own creative projects that others see as "messes."  And in our own lives, we need to create our own filing systems and our own way of keeping track of things that we can keep up on.

For example, I used to track poetry submissions with an Excel spreadsheet and I hated the process of it.  Yes, it was accurate.   Yes, I could see sort it if needed, but oh, after spending a day on the computer, the last thing I wanted to do was type in poems I submitted!

I came up with another system for myself.  It's a little redundant, but for me, it's easy and doesn't require a computer.

I keep the titles of each of my finished poems on index cards.  I keep those in the back of an index file box on my desk.  When I want to submit poems, I browse through the stack of poems and set aside 3-5 of my favorite poems, ones I think the journal I'm submitting to will like.

Beneath the title of the poem on the index card, I write the journal I'm submitting to and the date.  Many of these poems have been submitted before so there are other journals above it with X's by them (it means they've been rejected) and dates (so I know not to submit the same poem to a journal that already rejected it).

Now before I file these index cards back in the box, I record the date & name of the magazine I submitted with the 3-5 poem titles below it in a journal I keep on my desk (this is the redundant part).  I do this so I can browse through my journal to see what magazines have my poems and what is in each batch.

Here's what my file box looks like.  I currently do not have many poems out, but promised a friend to have 4 submissions out by the end of the month (which I will do).

I know this is ridiculously old school, but I love it and it works for me.  Sometimes I'll even write the date of when I finished the poem in the upper right corner of the index file as it's interesting for me to see when it was written vs. how long until it gets published.

Duotrope has an online submission tracker that many poets us.  You have to be signed up with Duotrope to use it, but it's free.

I think the key to organizing the creative mind is to find what works for you, fine tune it, then follow through with it.
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