6 tips on how to get organised to write efficiently
If you’ve read some of my other Blogs you’ve, hopefully, worked out what your core concept is, who your key target audience is and created a book content plan – perhaps even your introduction. Now you’re ready to start . . . maybe not.
‘What, not yet? I hear you say.
'Yes, not yet and here’s why'.
Unless you're superhuman and have managed to retain everything you’ve ever read, heard or seen, you’re going to need to find all this stuff (documents, research papers, books, newspaper clipping, articles ripped out of magazines or downloaded) and get it all organised into a coherent form so that you can easily access it when you’re actually writing.
For example, most of us will have created and/or collected documents, books and articles related to what our area of expertise is. Some will have also bookmarked articles, videos, specific Blog posts and YouTube presentations – these need to be organised as well.
Once you’ve created your book plan you’ll need to review, mark-up and organise all these sources as you’ll probably need to refer to them when you’re writing and there’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to refer to something you know you’ve read or seen but for the life of you, you can’t remember where. I’ve spent hours looking for that one sentence/paragraph that I read and wanted to use, so I’ve learnt the hard way to organise my research.
Here’s how I get my research organised.
- Create a physical folder for each chapter and put all the relevant documents into it with tabs on the side with the author’s name or the subject matter so you can find it easily.
- Create a Bookmark folder on your computer and tag all the articles, Blogs and other online sources you’ve found.
- Create a folder on your desktop and a folder for each chapter . . . put PDFs and other documents in the relevant folder.
- Create a space in your bookshelf for the books you are going to use in your writing and tag the relevant pages so they’re easy to get to when you want them.
- Make sure you have your interview transcripts (if you have undertaken interviews) completed and reviewed by the person you interviewed. That way, when you want to use something from the interview you know you can.
- Learn how to use the ‘footnote’ tool in your program and footnote EVERY reference whether or not your book is printed without them. Next to not finding that reference you want, not being able to go back to the source document once you’ve used it is hugely frustrating and time-wasting. Footnoting as you go solves this problem.
Once I’ve done all the above I often re-read everything to familiarise myself with all the material I’ve gathered. While this might take a while you’ll be surprised at what you’ve forgotten, where you actually got some of your thoughts and ideas from, and how different inputs have informed your particular perspective/concept.
And, I write notes . . . the old fashioned ones on paper to summarise the key points of the documents/books I’ve read. For me this is partly HOW I remember so much and it also acts as a quick summary when I’m writing if I need a prompt.
Once you’ve got your information organised, you’re ready to tackle writing, and it’ll be a lot easier to stay in the flow of writing if you’re organised.
Be warned, using the phrase 'I'm getting all my researched organised' is not an acceptable excuse for not writing.
A quick note: When I am in full-on writing mode I have documents, books, papers, articles and stuff spread out across my study and, sometimes, it stays in these seemingly random piles for weeks, as I know just where every document or piece of paper is. If you can make sure you have a place where you can literally spread out, that’s safe from children, pets, partners, the cleaner or helpful others who ‘just want to tidy your room’.
Let me know how you organise yourself for writing and any tips you have: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. The photo is of Jules Verne's study in Amiens, France which I visited in August 2015. Amazing.