Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
I've been in the process of putting together a lesson for my teen writing class and it's brought up all sorts of things.
Memories, of course. Lots of those. Bookish memories of where my author journey began a handful of years back. But also, practical, organizational things.
I've been sorting through paperwork trying to find old query letters and pass pages and editorial letters. I can't haul all of these things into the classroom, but I'd love to show these very real documents to the aspiring authors in my class--visual proof that dreams really do come true, you know? In lieu of renting a U-Haul to get everything to the school, I thought I'd snap pictures of the things I want to share and create a slideshow.
Of course, I have electronic copies of most everything, but the originals--the documents I marked up and doodled on--those are all here somewhere as well. And the hard copy real deals are somehow so much cooler than the e-versions.
And I've been thinking.
Because the truth is, while I'm a very detailed, organized person, when it comes to the business side of my creative endeavors, I've failed. Shockingly so. I mean, the stuff's all here. I've collected it. It's just . . .
I need a system.
And while I don't expect you to help me file my contracts, it crossed my mind that it's not just my official documents that have taken over the office. It's everything to do with my creative life. My brainstorming notebooks and my index cards for plotting and my books on craft.
These things are all buried under my daughter's art projects and my son's electronic devices--all of which seem to find their way onto my desk.
All very real, all SO NOT YOUR PROBLEM. But I'm being real here. Being honest. And the bigger problem is that since I know that I know that I know that I'll never find anything on my desk when I need it, I've started recording my story ideas and saving them as email drafts.
A fabulous thing to do, because even though I swear to myself I'll remember all my ideas, I don't. If I don't get them down somewhere, they flutter away--to the next author perhaps, an author smart enough to scribble them down.
And therein lies the problem. I have ideas everywhere. They're in my drafts folder in my inbox. They're doodled in one of fourteen notebooks on my desk. They're on index cards pinned to my bulletin board. They're scratched onto last week's sermon notes.
And so, I come to you now, throwing myself at your worn-out, Sharpie scribbled Chucks and I ask you . . .
How do you stay organized? I need your greatest tips, tricks, and secret weapons.
And while I realize that it's MY JOB to give you advice, I thought we could do a little something different today and simply share strategies that have worked for us. Organizational strategies for the the paperwork that comes with being a writer, but also for the ideas that really will leave us if we don't jot them down.
Fair warning, I plan to steal all the best ideas and implement them.
My office (and my future novels) thank you.