A Method to My Madness? by Deb Eileen

I want to be someone who has a routine. I love the idea of having tidy piles, outlines and color coded folders. I would love to tell people that I write X number of words per day and as a result be able to calculate to the minute when I will finish my next project.  I spend approximately the same amount on office supplies per year as it would cost me to finance a small insurgency in a tiny third world country. Many of these office supplies are purchased with the intent of becoming an organized and routine writer. So far this plan isn’t going so well. Maybe I should give up and move towards the insurgency and global domination option. I always fancied a flag with my face on it.

For me the formula for writing is complicated- you may need a calculator.

(time spent writing + daydreaming) – (time spent at work and doing sundry other chores + time spent dinking around doing nothing productive)+ the inspiration of reading a good book x desire to write = a book.

I write where and when I can fit it in.  I don’t require special tools, space, a set time, character sheets or an outline. (a good pen is nice- but that is more about my office supply passion than anything else) For me, it takes an idea that itches and the only way to scratch is to start writing. I write because I enjoy it, even on the days when it is kicking my ass. There are a lot of ways to make money in the world, almost all of them easier than being a writer. If I didn’t like it, I would stop.

For me- creativity is messy. It is torn pages from a magazine, scribbled notes on an index card, or a few minutes stolen on my lunch break to write down a scene (or a blog post.)  I may not be organized or have a routine, but I keep showing up and that counts for something. I do promise however, that should I ever become a tiny third world dictator to hire someone to organize me and our country. It is one thing to be a messy writer and another thing to misplace something like the military.

Are you a messy or organized writer?

13 thoughts on “A Method to My Madness? by Deb Eileen

  1. Laughed out loud at your expressed desire to become potentate of third world country and your writer’s formula. I’m a messy, undisciplined writer who doesn’t count her daily word output, but I regularly spend 10-15 hours in the chair a day. Some of that is admittedly in the blogosphere, but because I don’t have a day job, I dedicate myself full-time to writing. I love the whole process, the research, the ugly first draft, the revisions. Someday I may actually get published!

  2. I am a squirrelly writer, by which I mean that I somehow manage to write in spite of myself. I used to have a routine, but I got tired of it and started puttering during my writing time instead of writing. As for notes, I do try my best to confine them to the single notebook, because then at least I’ll know where to look for them. But a napkin will do if I’m desperate.

  3. Funny post, Eileen. Hopefully it would be hard to misplace a military, but you never know. 🙂 I am a neat and organized writer. This is something I’ve recently discovered. I wrote my first book with no outline, but I think the reason it worked is because the story was so strong in my mind. I kept starting and stopping the second one, frustrated that it wasn’t going well. Then I stopped, wrote an outline and suddenly it took off. I can’t write unless my office is cleaned up, etc. Sick, I know. lol I can be very messy at other times, though, usually when the ideas are coming hard and fast and I don’t have time to think about anything else. That’s fun, though, isn’t it?

  4. I’d like to offer my services as Exalted High Organizer of Tiny Third World Military. I’ve always wanted to be able to force other people to be organized. I’d have a ball! HAIL ME! (And of course I will, in turn, make them Hail Eileen! In a very neat and organized fashion.)

  5. Great post, Eileen. I’m at my best when I’m disorganized — blank recipe cards with notes re: my current novel folded up in pockets, my purse, tossed on the counter — and yet, when it comes to pulling all those scribblings together, I gather them up and feel… rich with material for the next chapter. I go through bursts where I organize my desk and clear the clutter, but when I’m writing in a white heat to meet a deadline with my publisher, I’m a creative mess.

  6. I’m like you. Good intentions and lots of supplies. However, when I put together a workbook for my current WIP, it turned out very organized. I guess the passion kept me going. Whereas organizing an office for the sake of organizing – where’s the passion in that?

  7. Now we know the depth of your excitement in finding colored moleskins last weekend. 🙂 And I’m not a linear thinker…enough said about my writing process.

  8. Where’s the passion?! WHERE’S the passion?! I’ll show you organizing passion, missy 😀 You’re gonna need a Brother P-Touch label maker (already discussed on this blog), 25 fresh manila file folders, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. *sigh* I just don’t think it’s possible to instill organizational passion in one past the age of six. If you didn’t arrange your stuffed animals by height, then color, then ear size, well, you’re already lost to me…

  9. Tess Gerritsen had a great post a few months back about how dreadful she is to live with while writing a book. It’s true for all of us, I think, that we’re too distracted with our characters to fully connect with the flesh and blood people that surround us.

  10. I start out frighteningly organized and neat (as in clear-plastic-holders neat!) and then it pretty much all goes to heck as I near the end … something about working the chaos seems to get everything to connected …

  11. Neat on the inside. Messy on the outside!
    My computer files are bizarre but somehow it all works. I tend to clean and file voraciously and then slowly seep back into disorganization.
    When I’m writing a first draft, I only make coffee.
    No dinner. No laundry.
    No cleaning. Nothing.
    I will wear the same pair of shorts for a week. My harbor mates can testify to that.
    My friends have to drag me out of my boat.
    When I lose my tan they know I’m starting another book!

  12. I love your formula, Eileen! And I love hearing about other writers as messy and disorganized as I am! Some days I have to move stacks of papers and books (not to mention a cat or two) to even get at my computer.

    Great post!

Comments are closed.