Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Organization: Your Way or the Highway

Hey all! As promised, today's post is about organization. If you were here for yesterday's post you know a bit about it. If not, you can go check it out or just continue reading. :) I really want to make just one point:

It's your way or the highway!

Literally, this is one of the times when it really is all about you. If you try to do it the way someone else tells you, or the way you think it should be done when really it isn't the way you do it, your likelihood of your success greatly diminishes.

Think about your kitchen. I'm sure you have everything organized just how it will work most efficiently for you. The pots, pans, skillets, and spices are probably near the stove, the silverware may be near the plates and cups which may be by the dishwasher. You get my point. Now say you read a magazine article that says the plates should always be by the closest door. The pots need to be as high as possible and northwest. The silverware should be stored underneath the oven. I'm sure you'll get very, very frustrated with that arrangement because it's just not how you operate. Organization for your WIP is exactly the same. You can try it any way that anyone says it, but in the end, it really must be your way.

I know this from experience. You name it, I've attempted it. The snowflake method....check. Standard outline....check. Plot line...check. Writing the synopsis/query paragraphs/basic idea of each chapter/chunk....check. None of those worked for me, but as your probably know, writing a novel without any organization is life's greatest adventure. It comes with a guarantee of chaos. 

The thing is, I really stink at organization and if the pic below is any example, it's because of my brain. Yes, thinker, I'm blaming you. (Don't get me wrong, Brain, I'm quite satisfied with the way you operate. It's others that think your a bit off...hey! Don't kill the messenger, Brain!!)
Mine is the one on the right.
It's kind of hard to tell, but there are arrows and connecting lines all through that plot structure. There is no clear organization. It's vastly different from the board on the left and that's alright. Let me repeat that...THAT'S ALL RIGHT. It's not about all of us doing it the same, it's about each of us taking from others what they've learned and checking it out for ourselves. Yes, I admire that board to the left, it's like my own personal wish for what my book could be in a professional organizer's hands, but alas, my book isn't that lucky, it gets to be in jumble land, but THAT'S ALL RIGHT!

The thing about my brain is that there is no way anyone else could possibly understand it. Bring it on Eddy Cull(en)y! Bring it on! I honestly don't think he could survive in my brain, it's crazy land. If my writing buddy has been around me and my manuscript for 6 years and STILL can't understand how I can link things together on the board above, I think I'm good for a vampire invasion, even the veggie vamps.

This leads me to the idea that there are probably more than one of us crazy-doesn't fit conventional structure-brained people out there. Hi weirdos! Embrace that weirdness, post-it the hell out of the nearest wall, scribble your scratches on the nearest whiteboard, and be proud of that impossible thing you call your brain, BE PROUD! 

So, what about you? What kind of organization do you do? LOVE and hate relationship? Or have you finally found your perfect organization? What is it? I want to know in the comments so please, please tell me!


Valerie Geary said...

I've been trying out different organizational methods as well. At the beginning I do a barebones outline based on the 3 Act structure (ie- inciting incident, plot point #1, mid point reversal, plot point #2, climax, resolution). Later on if something's not working with the plot structure, I like doing a scene-by-scene step sheet. Also, I've used story boards (similar to the whiteboards, but instead using notecards that I move around on 3 large pieces of cardboard).

Sometimes I wonder if certain stories lend themselves to certain organizational strategies. For instance, you might write one novel by the seat of your pants and it works out great, but the next novel needs some more structure before you get going. I think it's good to stay flexible and keep trying new ways of organizing your brain. It keeps your "thinker" in shape. Work brain work!! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Panster. I have a sense of where the story is going, and I'll just some notes. That's about it. I just write.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Organization and I have never gotten along very well. I try and try to figure out a way, but I am destined to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal! :-)

Stephanie said...

I hear ya...I ahve my own methods and that's just what works for me. I;ve tied taking tips form others adn soemtimes I can incorporate them or twek them, but in the end, it's gtta work for me!!

And the kitchen..oh yeah...everything is where I like it. My mother in law stayed here with our kids when hubby and me took a trip...when I came back, it seemed like everything was put back in the wrong places!! Talk about irritating!!

Stephanie said...

Yikes...clicked post before I reread it. Sorry for the typos!!

Carolyn V. said...

I think I'm more of the love/hater. I love being organized, but I'm always trying to change it and make it better. So then I'm unorganized again. =)

Susan R. Mills said...

I totally stink at organization! I've spent the last two weeks trying to get my house organized to no avail. My writing space is crazy. Piles of papers, post-it notes, etc. It never ends. I've given up. I think I write better in chaos. At least that's what I keep telling my family. :)