A Tea Party filled with an assortment of food, a charcuterie board, jam, bread, sweets, a cake, books, a tea pot, and tea cups, various fruits
Tea Party

Tea Party 7 (Q&A: How Writers Stay Organized)

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Welcome back to another tea party! Whether you’re a fellow writer or a fellow creative human, we all have ways we like to keep our projects in order. We hope you’ll share yours with us over a cup of tea!

What does your writing schedule look like?

Pineapple:

I actually just started a new job, so I’m going to have to try to find a new schedule! I used to write in the afternoons or evenings after my job. I’m not sure if that will work now. We’ll have to see, but I’m definitely going to prioritize making time for it. I don’t really believe in writing every day, but I try to write most days. I go a bit crazy and have weird dreams if I go for too long without writing something creative.

Raspberry:

So I’ve actually been trying to get better at this! I try to write every day whenever I can. Usually, it’s in the evening after work and before I have to study, but on the weekends it can be whenever. I actually have a post-it above my laptop with the quote “Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid of only standing still.” I’m not sure where it’s from originally, but Karamo from Queer Eye said it was his mantra, and it really stuck with me. My goal is to write just 100 words a day, but usually once I start I just keep going. It’s just forcing me to sit down and write a little each day. That’s the biggest challenge, since I’ve always tended to want to sit down only when I had time to write thousands of words… which ended up being like never haha adulthood, am I right?

Apple:

My schedule fluctuates a lot right now, so instead of one set time, I usually write for small bursts whenever I get the chance throughout the day. I used to pull a lot of late nights to get longer writing sprints in, but I’m trying to get better about prioritizing sleep for health reasons, so I’ve been limiting those recently. Well, trying to. I didn’t get the whole sleep thing before, but it’s actually pretty helpful in terms of functioning like a proper human. Who would’ve thought?

Is there a time of day when you feel most creative?

Pineapple:

There isn’t a particular time when I feel the most creative. When I was in school, it was just at night, when I was free. These days I’m kind of always thinking about writing and my mind drifts to it when I’m not focusing on something else. I’m more diligent about writing in general now that I’m older, and I believe creativity begets creativity so I don’t generally have a problem when I sit down to work.

Raspberry:

I’m a night owl, so nighttime is usually when I feel most creative. Or on the weekend if I have a cup of tea. Mostly, whenever I have the energy, I try to sit down at my laptop and write and then I’m able to get something done. It’s just getting to my desk that’s the hardest part.

Apple:

I am not a morning person in the slightest, so I think I’m most creative in that mid-afternoon to evening window. Four p.m. tends to work really well for me when I can get my writing time to line up with it. Taking a break from electronics tends to boost my creativity, too, though, so in those moments right before I fall asleep, when I’m away from my laptop and have set down my phone for the night, I usually end up having to pick my phone back up to open the notes app and jot down ideas.

How do you keep your writing organized? Do you prefer digital or written methods?

Pineapple:

I try to keep all relative things together lol I have folders on folders on folders. I keep my digital works all filed by date within their own folders, which is how I have the majority of my actual drafts and manuscripts. I have some notes in physical notebooks, and sometimes I have outlines on paper, though these days I’m switching to digital outlines. I’m still learning to organize paper notes, but I generally date and title the paper and sticky note or paper clip it if I need to reference it again. I try to keep all the big projects in one notebook or folder on their own even if it’s on paper.

Raspberry:

No lie, I feel a little called out by this question. I was just telling Pineapple and Apple how I ended up changing the drafts from the outline, meaning my outline episode numbers and my draft episode numbers do not match at all. Also, I just had to organize a lot of folders on the shared drive because it was a mess haha. I have my own distinct organization method, and it unfortunately does not translate well to others. My brain recognizes that episode 12 in the outline is episode 13 and also some of 15 in the drafts, and that episode 13 draft one could be in the “August 2021” folder or the “draft one” folder or the “just kidding these are the drafts” folder. But it’s harder for other people to come in and find my files. Basically, I’m halfway to creating my own code, so all I need now is a hidden treasure for some archeologist to look for in a hundred years.

Apple:

Well, you see… It’s a bit of a mess. If I have a migraine or my attention is wandering or I need to mind map, I use either my current everything notebook (which is a jumble of all the things I work on or need to think out) or I write on a random piece of paper that I fold and put in my everything notebook later.

On easier days, I’m actually a lot more organized. I have blank outline templates saved and ready to go for new ideas. I also have folders for each story I’m already working on; each folder contains that story’s outline, any research that isn’t bookmarked in my web browser, and all of the story’s drafts. Notes, ideas that don’t quite have a place in the story yet, and parts of the story that have been cut from drafts but might still be useful are all kept at the bottom of the outline doc, along with any additional research.

Sometimes, I’ll just keep one document open on my laptop during the week and use that as my everything doc in place of my everything notebook. Then I copy and paste everything to its proper document or folder at the end of the week. (Or I just save the doc and hunt all of the things in it down later, when I need them.) I’m actually writing my answers to this Tea Party episode in an “everything doc” now.

Do you favor a certain writing software?

Pineapple:

I generally just use microsoft word. I grew up on it. I did buy and download scrivener, but I don’t really use it. It’s a bit much for me, There are a lot of features I don’t use and wouldn’t use, but it seems good to have if I ever wanted to make the switch. I use wavemaker.cards sometimes to organize things and make notes from my phone, because I don’t really like the notes apps I have preset and I haven’t found another one that I like enough.

Raspberry:

I use LibreOffice, which is the free Microsoft word haha. I’ve been trying to get into Scrivener, which I like for novel manuscripts, but not so much for JAAM projects.

Apple:

I usually use Word since I got it for free from my university, but Pineapple got me Scrivener for my birthday, and I’ve been loving all of the options it comes with! I’m still getting the hang of all the features, but I think I’m going to use it for the second season of The Faery Bargain, and I can’t wait!

It’s great that you could join us!

Do any of our organization habits ring true with you, too, or do you have a completely different way of doing things that’s all your own? Let us know in the comments, or find us on twitter @jaamwriting!

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