Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pile Police: Are they after you?

Spring cleaning? If the Pile Police paid you a visit, could your writing corner get you landed on an upcoming episode of Buried Alive?

Arrest yourself from bad habits—and improve your chances of publication—with these easy methods. Freedom and success comes with a painless, quick system that won’t take a month of being held up on rainy Saturdays to get going.

1. Writer Magazines, conference notes, and other stacks of “helpful” information
Save only the most useful advice by removing it from the magazine and putting it where it will truly be handy and helpful. See Binders below!

2. Binders – Gather several binders, ideally with pockets. Shop your house first. Mine are not fancy. I stole them from a box filled with my husband’s grad school work. He’ll never miss them.

3. What goes inside?
Devote a binder to specific purposes and manuscripts. Marketing and Promotion Ideas. Tracking School Visits. Great Writer Advice. Each novel-length project gets its own. Lump magazine articles together in a fat binder. Short stories or picture books share, too. If you have a lot of short pieces, perhaps label those by year.
Even if documents are stored in computer files, I print hard copies occasionally. This saved me once during a computer crash. The manuscript copy goes in the binder. Came across contact info for the perfect agent for your novel that isn’t ready to submit for another year? Save it in the binder. Great lines scribbled in a hurry on a menu? Brochure from visiting the story’s real-life setting? Use a hole puncher or slip them in a pocket. Plop in the bits and pieces that will help your writing succeed. When you are ready to spend time on a particular project, you will have everything to get up to speed without wasting time searching.

4. Rejection Letters:
Make this binder fun, as it contains pain, agony and pieces of your heart. I labeled mine: The Someday I will be Sorry Club

5: Other resources
For paperless tracking of submissions to agents and publishers, try online resources like Query Tracker. It’s a great place to gather research on industry needs without adding the clutter of research to your desk.

Now that you’re more organized, you’re free to write, write, write!


  1. Very helpful post, thanks! I already have some of the folders and it's a good remider to get the rest of my 'junk' organised.

    1. Thanks! The hardest part for me was finding the time to transpose random notes-on-the-fly into computer files, so this binder system frees me from that task - I just have to stick them in as is.

  2. LOL! You've seen my writing room. The police are going to get me for sure. Your article motivates me to clean, something I've had on my list to do for weeks. I have folders and spirals and as soon as I find them I'll get organized. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. I'll never be a neatnick -- always more plans than progress. But this helps get started in a system that can be maintained pretty easily, even for pilers like me!

      Good luck!

  3. Hi Suzanne! Thank you for this timely post. I've got piles all over the house that I've been spring cleaning, on top of trying to do everything else. : ) I've got some old binders, so maybe I can get some of this mess straightened up and organized. : )


  4. Great Spring cleaning post. I'm looking at 7 piles as I write. Thanks for the starting ideas.