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Time to get organized
by Susan Miles

After reading a recent writers success story, where the author described her achievement of growing her writing income from $1500 to $12,000 per annum part-time, I was inspired. I set myself the goal to emulate her success.

However, in the fever of creativity, I realized I had let myself down by neglecting the administration and organizational side to the business of writing. My submissions and articles were all over the place and I had lost track of what I had submitted where. So I called a halt to my writing (only temporarily) and in the words of my English friend Sal, got myself "sort-ed!"

First step, make use of the "Folder function" in my Microsoft Office software and set up the following groupings.

1. Completed Articles

2. Outlines and Proposals

3. Submission Guidelines `

4. Cover Letters

5. Competition Guidelines

6. Payment records

Under each of the first 4 headings I then set up the following subgroups

1. Sport

2. Travel

3. Personal Essays

4. Writing

5. Miscellaneous

The key subject areas that I generally write about.

I then proceeded to sort my documents and file them into these folders. This gave a semblance of order to my writing, but I needed to go further and develop a method to track my work. Rather than invest in "tracking software", (Besides, I don't think my Japanese is up to asking for this package at my local computer store!), I developed a simple approach to record the status of each of my articles, outlines and competition entries. In "Word" I used the "table function" and built a 5 column table with the following headings:

1.Date Submitted

2.Publication Name

3.Material Submitted (either proposal or completed article)

4.Date of Response


I copied this table into my articles and outlines at the beginning of each document. I then proceeded to fill in the information on the date I had submitted the work, which publication, the material submitted (ie: a completed article or outline proposal), leaving space for date of response and feedback.

An example would be:

Entry No.1.

Date Submitted: 9.1.2002

Publication: Travel & Leisure

Material Submitted: Outline

Date of Response: 10.1.2002

Comments/Feedback: Rejected, topic covered in last 6 months.

Entry No.2.

Date Submitted: 10.2.2002

Publication: Trips and Journeys

Material Submitted: Outline

Date of Response: 10.20.2002

Comments/Feedback: Accepted, 700 completed article due 11.20.2002

For those of my articles I have already sold, I also noted the publication rights attached to the sale so I know if and when I can offer the article for resale.

For the folder titled "Guidelines", I filed my collection of submission guidelines. Most of these I have copied either directly from a publication's websites or from resource sites such as writersweekly.com or writingfordollars.com. In each case I noted the date when these guidelines were posted to ensure my information is current and up-to-date.

For those publications I have already sold to or at least received positive feedback to a proposal, I noted the article, the date it was submitted and my editorial contact. This gives me a reminder to mention my earlier article/proposal in future submissions and address this submission to my previous contact point, thus ensuring I get as much leverage off this earlier contact as I can.

Under the folder "Payment Records"

I have created a word document with a four-column table attached with the following headings

Document title: Payment Record for the 2002/03 Tax Year

Column Headings:

1. Date Accepted

2. Publication

3. Amount

4. Date Payment Received

A gift for my Accountant when I do my taxes next year!

I feel more in control just having completed this exercise. As my writing develops I can enhance my record system to match. I look forward to the day I can add a separate folder for "Articles for resale" and "Syndicated Weekly Column." In the mean time, I have a simple system to manage my writing that is not overly cumbersome and won't feel like a chore to update. Now I can get back to what I love to do best, writing!

© Copyright 2003, Susan Miles

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