And Now, The Hard Part
Organizing and planning for turning research into writing.
Actually, rather than recommend a tool, I’m going to ask you for your recommendations. I’ve always rolled my eyes at Scrivener, because I think you can do a lot of what it does by just understanding how to build robust directory structures with nested tables and “sections” in Word. But this is the most complex work I’ve ever done, and I’m starting to feel like it would help to have software that helped me (maybe even forced me?) to create some order out of this chaos. I have tried, and not really liked, OneNote. (I wanted to like it, because my university provides it to us for free, but I find it is a lot of work for very little payoff. If you like it, do you know of a good tutorial? Maybe I’m just using wrong.) And maybe I’ve been too harsh about Scrivener, and it does a lot more than I give it credit for doing? Tell me what non-DIY systems you use, writer friends, because I think this current project requires more than my little handmade directories and Word tricks.
The Current Challenge:
It should probably not have surprised me as much as it did, but it turns out that if you leave home for almost three months, when you return many, many things will clamor for your attention. There are home repairs that became urgent while we were gone, university-related responsibilities that can’t be put off any longer, and the narrative learning program you guys helped me fund that I’ll be doing with the Urban League kicks off in a few weeks. It’s all good stuff (well, except maybe the home repairs) that I’m glad to be doing, but I also want to make sure I get a few hours of writing in every day while my experiences are still fresh.
For me, this means giving up my lazy mornings of reading 3-4 newspapers (my attempt to not get hidebound in my understanding is to read newspapers with varying editorial bents), doing a couple of the word games/crossword puzzles in those papers, and also just sitting quietly with the dog and my coffee while becoming fully awake.
I always said I’d never be part of what’s called “the 5am writers’ club,” but here I am. I finally get why people set aside that part of the day for writing: it’s the only part of the day when I can be certain nobody’s going to need something urgent from me, and I can set aside an uninterrupted chunk of time to get the work done.
That said, I’m not get about actually getting this done. So far, I’m just more likely to read the paper/do the crossword on my computer instead of my iPad, but I haven’t learned to be awake enough yet to generate anything useful that early in the day. I am hoping that the secret is to make it a habit, and that in the weeks to come I will have adjusted and learned to make this useful time.
What are your tricks for carving out both uninterrupted AND productive writing time, friends? I could use your hints and tips!