It’s that time of year when many of us clear out things we haven’t used for a while and spruce up the place. Why not do the same with your writing? 

The recent coronavirus outbreak has forced many of us into quarantine. Some are holding up better than others depending on personal circumstances, but you’re probably tired of all the negativity. So I’m going to offer some positivity. 

With so much more time and nowhere to go, it’s great for some writers to say “I’m going to use this time to write.” But creativity isn’t an on-demand thing. So for those of you struggling with writing in these difficult times, why not organise it instead? 

I’ve been using Scrivener for about a year now thanks to a recommendation. I got straight to updating detailed outlines, inserting links for research, compiling character sheets as well as uploading images and music links for inspiration. I organised my old drafts and copied them in so I can see them all in one place while copying the Word documents into an archive folder.

I logged the names and character traits changes along with listing plot and sub-plot variations for continuity referencing. Rather than sifting through multiple folders and documents to combine all these, they’re now nicely organised in one document.

If you’re reluctant to spend money on Scrivener, which includes updates in the software, you can use OneNotes. You’ll have to spend a little more time on setting up the file, but you can easily simulate the organisational system in Scrivener. 

If you’re concerned about syncing Scrivener, you can save it to a cloud folder just like all your other files. There is also a way to access the individual notes though Gdrive on your Android phone. Just open the pages as txt files and save with your updated notes. It might take a few tries to work out which file you need to open as they’re not named so clearly, but you can add notes and ideas on the go. 

This also works for collections of short stories or keeping themes of flash fiction together along with tables for tracking submissions to publications. 

I also recommend creating a section for feedback or critiques if you’ve shared your work with others. It makes accessing that much easier than opening emails or checking the various critique websites. Also, any advice you find that’s useful to a particular issue you were having can also go in there. 

Towns, cities, jobs, pets, locations and backstories all count to make up your fiction whether real or invented. For sci-fi/fantasy writers, include your worldbuilding notes and inspirational images. For real-world writers, you can describe any organisations or businesses involved if they have a complex part in the plot. Just about anything you open on your computer that relates to your writing should go in there. 

This can also fill a ton of time and be fun if you’re that way inclined. Compiling information, thoughts, and inspiration is my idea of fun. It also prompts me to lookup more things I might find useful in the writing process from advice to fun images. 

So spring clean your writing and make the most of the quarantine if you’re on lockdown like I am.

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