Kim Watters here. After almost 19 years in the same house, I finally made the decision to move. Not an easy feat, but a necessary one. The house just wasn’t working out for our needs anymore. Do you have any idea how much stuff one can accumulate over that time period? Throw in a couple of kids and you’re looking at a mountain of stuff and a garage barely big enough to contain box after box of belongings I couldn’t part with; like the first had print my oldest child made in art when he was three, or my second child’s snippet of hair from her first haircut at a year old. And what do I do with all the old paperwork, royalty statements, contracts and such? Or the old costume jewelry I inherited from my grandmother? And-gasp-my book collection?
So many belongings, so little time to sort, and box, and label for storage. Because if I’m ever to find anything before I have a chance to unpack once I move into our newer, bigger home, I have to know where it is. You never know when you’ll have to glance through an old contract, or need to find a certain research book. I’ll be able to find it at moment’s notice and save time if I’m organized, right?
So how can you incorporate organizational skills into writing? Easily. Keep detailed spreadsheets for each manuscript. I do one for each character complete with a photograph of what they look like. One is for the all the character names, no matter how brief they appear, and how they relate to our main characters. I also keep track of local businesses and who owns them as they appear in the story and I keep a time line and an outline for each chapter along with page numbers and chapter lengths.
My newest release, Home Sweet Home, deals with renovating an old Victorian house, so I kept a chart on each room in the house and the progress of the renovations as they occurred. So each time I needed to refer back to something, it was easier to page through spreadsheets than the actual manuscript. I also created an ancestry line for my heroine to keep track of marriage, birth and death dates, which coincided with the building of the original house.
Since time is a premium for me, having everything I needed at my fingertips made me more productive with the minutes I had to write. I work full-time, have two elementary school kids and managed to write Home Sweet Home in under three months. Call me anal, but it works for me. It might just work for you, too.