Working Table of Contents – A Way to Organize Your Writing

Create a working table of contents (WTOC) for all your writings.  Think of the WTOC as an idea list.  The working table of contents lists not only the vignettes or articles you’ve written, but also the vignettes or articles you plan to write.  Use actual or working titles for each vignette, chapter, blog post idea or article.

HOT TIP – Create a Working Table of Contents document in a table in your word processing software or use spreadsheet software, such as Excel.

In your WTOC, next to the titles you’ve written, record the current word count.  Also, create a column to notate the phase the writing is in (i.e.  prewritten, 1st draft, middle drafts, close to final, needs proofing, ready to publish, etc.).

Keep ALL your writing in one place on your computer.  Start with a folder titled “MY WRITINGS” or “MY BLOG POSTS” (or title of your collection), for instance.  Within that folder, create a new folder for each vignette OR working title.  Within each folder, save your drafts and revisions along with other supporting documentation, and research for that vignette, chapter, blog post idea or article.

Keep ALL your copies and edits of your writing together too.  Mirror your computer folders by creating manila folders for each of your articles, vignettes, or chapters.  Print the latest drafts and revisions and place them in their respective folders.  Also, collect supporting documents in the folder to create a compost of ideas and springboard material.  For instance, photos, articles about your topic, research notes, letters, interviews with characters who appear in the story, etc.

Store all your writings in one place.  If you have a filing cabinet or drawer where they can all reside together, great!  If not, consider purchasing a portable file tub with a lid.  These are especially handy when you go on vacation and want to take your writing with you.  For those who live in hurricane or flood evacuation zones, the tote tub filing system makes it easy to grab and go, never leaving behind your precious works.

Feed your creativity.  Visit museums, antique stores, and places that carry the associations of your stories.  Make dates with yourself to feed the muse.  Go for walks in the park.  Write in a journal.  Listen to music.  Fill your well with fresh ideas and new musings.  The more you feed the muse, the more often she’ll meet you on the page.

Download a free .pdf of the Working Table of Contents here.

Please leave a comment below this blog post to let  me know what you think.

Let’s get organized!

Before You Write, Declutter!

Have you ever noticed that clutter of any kind, whether physical, emotional, or mental, shouts out, “Hey, do me… don’t forget about… me… what about me?”

Clutter is stuck energy.  Clear your clutter and you will remove stagnant energy, free up space, and open up the channels to your creativity.

Clutter is defined as anything:

  • unfinished
  • unused
  • unresolved
  • tolerated
  • disorganized

When we begin a weekly decluttering regimen, we begin to clear out the old and make room for the new.  We cast off old projects, broken promises, and forgotten sidetracks.  We get rid of what we’ve been tolerating.  We put order to chaos.  The simple act of clearing clutter can transform your life by releasing what is no longer needed.  You’ll generate renewed energy, allowing you to create space in your writing life for the things you want to achieve.

Decluttering is an organic, ever-evolving part of the prewriting component in the writing process.  Do IT!  Start right now.  For the next 20 minutes focus your attention on a small pile of stuff, a desk drawer, a file folder, a computer folder, a countertop.

Ask yourself these 3 decluttering questions:

1.  Does it lift my energy?

2.  Do I love it?

3.  Is it useful to me now?

If not, out it goes (to the trash, to recycling, to charity, to a good new home).

Why Do Writers Procrastinate?


Why Do Writer’s Procrastinate?
Or why does ANYONE  procrastinate, for that matter?

During the 1990’s I taught time management and organization workshops to overstressed, uber-hurried professionals in the Silicon Valley.  No matter what role they played in the corporate life, every one of them admitted to multiple things they put off and didn’t do.  They procrastinated everything from following up with clients, filing reports, sending emails, cleaning off their desks, even asking the boss for a raise.

Writers are no different.  We procrastinate for a number of reasons:

  • Fear – of failure, success,  inadequacy, being good enough, being found out, being real
  • Overload – common when there’s always, always more to do than time for
  • Overwhelm – the task seems so HUGE, it’s daunting
  • No deadline – working without a clear target
  • Lack of a clear purpose – moving forward without enough information or instruction

Are any of these reasons familiar to you?  What are you putting off?  What reasons do you give to justify the delays?

During the next several days, I’ll be posting tips and techniques for overcoming procrastination. These techniques work; they really DO. I know because I use them myself and recommend them to my coaching clients and memoir writing students all the time.  Their successes prove that overcoming procrastination is possible.

Please leave a comment.  Tell me if you procrastinate and why.

Then, click on Blog for more How To Overcome Procrastination tips.