The limits of organization

I used to write a lot of notes. My first few years of “writing” deserve the quotation marks because mostly what I wrote was notes. I was generating ideas, I was scribbling them down, and then I had to organize them. It became a morass where I didn’t actually write any of the story I had set out to tell. I was a writer, but only of notes. That hardly counts.

If you want to write, there will be a tendency to try to make sure everything is perfect before you start. To plot everything out, to write down all your ideas, to input them in some system where you can find them quickly and easily, to talk and plan and get the perfect computer and set up in the perfect place and only start when everything is in order.

Don’t. Creativity doesn’t work like that, not for me at any rate. I wasted years trying to get organized. Now I might spend a day once every few months beating some organization back into my notes and plotting and everything else. It’s not important! The value of notes is in having written them, not reading them later. I just toss them into piles or chunk them into Evernote and trust that I’ll find them if I need them. I almost never need to. I usually remember.

I’ll be spending tonight doing a little organization, and maybe tomorrow doing some paying work that I need to catch up on, but by the time the weekend rolls around I’ll be back to working on my book. Because organization isn’t important, while my book is. Always remember what is really important.