Writers are among the most disgusting fucks I know. Not only do they forget to bathe for days or weeks at a time, they usually end up working in a pile of feculence the likes of which can only be matched by an open garbage dump. There’s no excuse for this level of gruesome and odious filth. Period. Dot.
If you want to make it in this business, you’ve got to get your shit together. Get your vile pile under control!
How Disorganization Costs You
When you’re extremely disorganized, there’s no hope for you — but most of you don’t fall in that range, you’re usually just some disorganized or a little confused and have a few piles. Total disorganization makes our job impossible. There’s no way you can juggle multiple clients with their various needs if your desk look like that one up there. You’re fucked in that regard. But, if you’re somewhere between that and organized, I can help.
Being disorganized costs you in more ways than financial. Even if you never have a video conference (I recommend you don’t until you get your ass organized), your clients will notice the sloppy work your environment encourages, they’ll start keeping track of how often they have to remind you what their voice should be… and they might even end up calling you at home because you’ve started missing deadlines.
Basically, your disorganization is going to lead to the ruin of your business and potentially the fall of humanity. That’s a big burden to carry, I know.
Emerging From the Pile
Of course, you can change your putrid ways today. TODAY! You can clean the fuck out of your desk, get your papers in one stack (Why do you still have papers?! This is the digital age!) and generally make life a lot easier for yourself. Any organizational system is a personal thing, but I’ve been crafting one for years and I have a few items I think everybody needs:
Whiteboards for Client Tracking. Whiteboards bring me endless joy and utility — I have them scattered throughout the house. But the ones in my office are of special value, they help me keep track of client needs, give me a place to jot notes and draw things and allow me to visualize how much of my hard-earned cash is still out there floating around.
Scheduling Calendar. No writer in their right mind should be without some kind of scheduling calendar. I use Google Calendar, but you can use a paper calendar, a whiteboard calendar or whatever works. Fill your daily work into each day’s section as individual pieces, and move things around as need be. This way you can easily see if you have time to take on more work or if you have to pass on that awesome offer that just came randomly to your email.
Shelf for Reference Books. No matter your specialty, you’ve got some reference books, even if they just consist of a tattered copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, a half legible dictionary and a 1998 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook. Everything needs a fucking place.
Drawers for Files and Pens. Other things, like pens and files, are less frequently used than your reference materials, so stash them nearby, but away. Get them off your desk with a rolling file cabinet or buy a new desk with some storage. Treat this shit like an investment, because it is.
Spreadsheet for Income Data. This is less of a physical thing, but if you really want to know how you’re doing compared to last year or where you’re headed based on five years of income data, a spreadsheet can give you that info. It’s even a great way to curb your spending on expensive, but necessary things like fast food hamburgers, the mana of life.
Post-It Notes. I should really buy some stock in 3M, because I use the fuck out of Post-Its. They’re a great way to keep track of who wants single spaces in their deliverables, what needs to be done right away and new ideas I’ve left to implement. They’re great for everything. Sometimes I stick them to my husband’s head.
I promise you that if you get your shit together, it’ll pay off in the long run. Clean your desk, you filthy mongrel, pick up your space and get fucking organized!!