Today I want to talk about getting organized and staying focused. I'm not going to talk about how wonderful I am at either of those things. That would simply be untrue. I've always had trouble focusing on one thing for very long. But, I am fairly certain that before I attempted to be a writer, I had no trouble with staying organized. I have even been accused of being OCD. It is here that I must interject to defend myself. I don't think I was THAT bad. I mean, everyone has quirks. What can I say? I like things done my way. That's because my way is the right way. If you want to help, you will follow my precise instructions. If you do not, it will not be done correctly and will inevitably have to be redone at some point. Why waste the time and effort? I could name examples, but I don't want to bore you. Besides, that would take WAY too much time. I like to complain...
I used to clean a lot, but we have a lot of animals. I liked to keep things in neat little piles and rows. I liked to be able to find things. But somewhere along the line, I lost it! Oh, things are still in piles here and there, just not neat ones. Once in a while I clean like I used to. The "every minute detail" kind of cleaning. That doesn't happen often. You see, I have issues. Addictions, if you will. I get on the computer sometimes and just can't stop myself from reading a bazillion blogs, or from going onto iTunes and finding tons of new music, or from browsing for books to buy and add to my already enormous TBR pile. But, I also like to sleep. A lot. I don't get to. Not as much as I'd like, anyway. If all I ever had to do was sleep, write, read, write some more, sleep again, I'd be happy as clam. Although, I can't imagine that clams are very happy, but you get the idea.
So, here is where my dilema begins. I work a 40+ hr a week job. I work on Saturdays for extra cash. And while I dont have any kids, I have animals, and they are just as bad if not worse. Kids can be distracted w/shiny objects or tv's or money. Not animals. All they want is love and attention. So, I get sidetracked. I also have a husband. He also wants love and attention. There is no time for children. I don't have the patience for them anyhow.
Now, back to what I like to do: sleep, write, read. Where do I find the time to do these things? I am probably ok on the sleep thing. I get at least 6hrs sleep on any given night. Naps are cool. I like naps. It would be nice to squeeze those in once in a while. But what about reading? And more importantly, what about writing?! I adore writing! When do I find the time to sit down and REALLY focus on my writing?
Now that we are done with dilema one, let's move on to dilema two. I am forgetful and have to write everything down as it comes to me or it's gone. So, I've gotten in the habit of writing on anything I can find. Napkins, sticky notes, deposit slips, etc. I have little stacks of these things all over the place. I have notebooks that I bring with me to try and prevent that, but sometimes a notebook in the purse isn't very practical. So, there are napkins and sticky notes shoved in my notebooks, stapled, paperclipped, whatever. I've got large envelopes for each story idea that's on loose paper, (however, some are in my notebooks and it's too messy to tear them out, so I've gotten in the habit of writing the story title or idea name in the corner for later reference), in an attempt to keep them organized. I've suddenly become overwhelmed with story ideas. I hear a lyric in a song that sparks an idea, or I'll have some crazy dream and wake up thinking "eureeka!". And all of these things get written down somewhere. And that's my problem. What do I do with all of these notes and ideas? How do I keep them straight? How can I keep from overwhelming myself and stay focused?
One of these days, I am going to finish my original novel, the one I focus the majority of my attention on. But, now I've got these other voices telling stories in my head. Does that make me sound crazy? I guess I am to a certain extent. It pains me to put my first baby down, but what do you do when you've got some voices overpowering the others? At least I am trying to stay on task. Sort of. I've finally made myself create an outline for my first novel idea (now that I've got several). This is my attempt to keep focused and not let myself sink in all the little details. I've got pages and pages of text, all typed out of order and at different times, some not typed at all. I write long hand and then transpose everything into my computer. Another issue: finishing typing all of my written text.
So, with out further getting sidetracked, my questions to you: What do you do to stay focused? How many projects do you work on at a time? How do you stay organized?