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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
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
3. Personal Essays
The key subject areas that I generally write
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
3.Material Submitted (either proposal or
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:
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.
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
1. Date Accepted
4. Date Payment Received
A gift for my Accountant when I do my taxes
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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