Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ANSWER #1 - Too Much Clutter

Over the next few weeks author Kathryn Porter going to answer many of your questions about clutter. The first question comes from a North Jersey Christian Writers Group member, Barbara.

Barbara is also the first winner of Kathryn's book


How do I organize my ideas for writing/speaking? I get great ideas, write them "someplace" & "everyplace". Even if I put them in the same place how can I find what I want? Should I file them by topic? Alphabetical? By Audience? Can it be cross referenced?

The thing to remember is that there is no one-size fits all when it comes to organizing. File them under a system that makes sense for you.

When you get into cross-referencing, you make more work for yourself. Keep it simple.

I file my ideas by using three subject notebooks. I like them because they easily travel anywhere. I don’t keep my notebooks forever. If I don’t use those ideas within a month after I fill the notebook, I toss the notebook and start a new one. If the idea is that good or if I’m that passionate about it, I create an outline on my computer for an article or book chapter. If the idea just sits in the notebook, it’s clutter.

I can picture some individuals gasping at the notion of tossing ideas in the trash. I’m hard core when it comes to de-cluttering. I don’t want to live in mediocrity surrounded by an ocean of ideas. I prefer to work with laser like precision by focusing on one project and completing it. In fact, I find that most of my ideas are directly related to whatever project I happen to be working on at the time. This is something that may come more naturally to you as you discover your bend as a writer.

For speaking, I have a different system. I write summaries and outlines for all my workshops and keep them in a folder on my computer. From time to time, I’ll open those folders, refine those workshops, and maybe swap them out on some of my promotional materials to keep things fresh.

There’s also software available to organize writing and speaking ideas. It will take time to input everything into the computer, but then you should be able to do searches by word or topic, depending on the software you choose. The only organizing software I recommend is the Paper Tiger. It’s not specific to writing, but it’s the best out there. For more information, please visit

Also, beware of working so much on ideas that you never actually pick a project and follow it through. That’s why I’m not that big on filing ideas—we just have so many of them that keeping track of them can be more of a project than we bargained for.

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