Taming Writing Clutter

Shonna Slayton — 

I know I’m a bit ahead of the game on this, but we are starting school on Monday. This is our last weekend of summer vacation.

At the end of school a mere two months ago, I dropped all my teacher supplies into my drawer and file boxes and walked away, wiped my hands, and put on my writer’s hat. I am pleased to say I met all of my summer writing goals, but one little one that will take no time at all Saturday morning.

So, it’s time to reset the routine once again. Starting with getting organized.

With my kids’ help, I’ve been clearing out the clutter. Multiple trash bins have been filled as well as several recycle boxes, and lastly, I’ve got a well-stocked trunk ready for Goodwill.

Inspired by my school cleansing, I decided to tackle a few of my writer’s piles as well.

To simplify my piles (I am a piler, though I try to be a filer) I use this system:

  1. Writer’s Notebook. I keep a Writer’s Notebook which is a really big binder. In here, I keep everything related to the business of writing. Craft, agent/editor query lists and responses, class notes, etc. Well, almost everything, my expenses are in another book right next to the computer where I tend to make my purchases.
  2. WIP Folders. Each WIP gets it’s own pretty notebook, and matching accordion file (pictured above) for all the loose bits of things like notes, websites, critiques, research, etc. This works well for most of my WIPs, though I have one historical that has exceeded its space for all the research.
  3. An Idea Box. It really is a box (pictued above) that I toss newspaper and magazine clippings into. A lot of my story ideas springboard off of books or articles I’ve read and I haven’t found a better way to organize these other than the big box.

And that’s pretty much it for the physical writing clutter. It all goes in one of three places. What is your system?

Shonna Slayton

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Shonna Slayton is the author of the 1940's YA novel Cinderella's Dress (2014, Entangled Teen) and its sequel, Cinderella's Shoes (Fall 2015) . Visit her website at ShonnaSlayton.com sign up for her newsletter.

2 responses to Taming Writing Clutter

  1. Kitty Bucholtz at

    Holy cow! If only! I have stuff piled everywhere! Some of my writing office supplies are still in boxes from when we moved here two years ago and I wasn’t sure we’d be here long enough to unpack. Now we’re getting ready to move again at the end of the year and I have no idea what I’m doing with all my stuff! Your organization is making me feel DISorganized, Shonna! After 18 months of focusing on homework rather than keeping up with piles, I have to admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed by the cleanup job ahead. Hmm…what shall I do…

  2. I need to find a pretty box for my ideas. :) Right now they get scribbled in the back of a small notebook I carry in my purse. I know that the back (usually 1/3) of those notebooks is reserved for writing ideas. I also have a voice recorder. but that means the ideas are scattered throughout several notebooks and in several different places on the computer. Maybe it’s time to get organized. :)