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How Do You Stay Organized? Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Hi Anne,

I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while, & had a question. I’m just starting out my freelancing career while I’m still working full-time, which means I spend a lot of my time gathering job posts & email addresses, but wanted to know the best way to keep track of everything. I mean, what are some of your tips & tricks to keeping that sort of info organized & usable?

Thanks,

JB

Hi JB,

Organized? Who, me? Well maybe, or at least well enough so I don’t miss much that’s important.

I start with a solid calendar and goal setting/tracking package called GoalPro. That’s where I work out my goals, their dates, the reasons I want that and also track appointments. I also make appointments with myself for the writing. For example, this post shows up on today’s calendar as blog2. I have a phone appointnment in about 10 minutes – they’ll call me and I’m already prepared.

As far as jobs, when I’m searching for jobs to post here I’ll sometimes send an email. More often I email the link to myself so I can consider the offer more carefully and decide how I want to respond. If I haven’t responded in three or four days I delete the email I sent myself and move on.


My emails are hand sorted into a ton of folders I’ve set up as needed. I also usually add email addressess I want to keep in my email’s address book.

Paper tends to stack up for a week, and I sort it and throw most of it away on many Fridays. If I don’t throw it away I file it.

Now, I suspect our readers have other organizing tips. Please share them with us.

[askanne]

[sig]

Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • I have folders – but I also write things down the old fashion way, with a pen and notebook. Somehow I find it soothing to know that my to do list and my writing notes are somewhere that I can access them. This helps if I’m running errands and get an idea that I need to jot down, or if I remember to add something important to my list for when I get home. That way I’m not stuck with the “What did I think I needed to do?” question.

    • Yeah, lists work for me as long as I’m not locked into them.

  • Hannah

    Folders, folders, folders. In Bookmarks and in My Documents, mostly. I read a lot online and articles which I find useful or wish to refer back to are marked and categorized. I find if I just stuff them into a general folder, I can’t find them later.

    And for whatever novel I’m working on, I must have a separate bookmark folder for it with subcategories for each thing. For example, the last one, CRIMENOVEL, had its own folder with subfolders for POLICE PROCEDURE, MEDICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, WEAPONS and other articles relating to my subject matter. If I needed to locate something, it was easy to find it.

    Now that I’m finished, I can’t bring myself to delete any of the folders, in case I need them for revision, should someone ask for that. They’re not taking up much space, so for now I’ll leave them and continue on to the next project.

  • Yes, good practice, Devon & Jennifer. But it reminds me of the woman who was dusting her husband’s office while he was away and found a big folder marked “Pitch.” So she pitched it in the recycle bin.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

    • Anne

      lol, in my house I can’t get anyone to clean up… just me and the cat here. btw, devon gives great advice.

  • admin

    Yeah, Michelle, I also sort into folders, some of which are on my desktop… easy to get too many, but I can always move them when I need.

  • I have email and desktop folders for everything I consider important which is quite alot because I read so much on the Internet from a variety of sources. I set up a writing job response template in Word that I just copy and paste to the job ad which saves a huge amount of time. I send the response out along with my resume and/or samples. For my paperwork I also have folders but lesser.

  • admin

    Hi Eunice, I’m not a good one to interview since I do so very few of them, but you can call any newspaper near your university and talk to a reporter. You might have to get through a receptionist and/or wait for a deadline to pass. And I’d suggest you try a smaller community newspaper rather than a bigger daily. Easier to approach.

    Others here may have better answers for you.

    A

  • Eunice

    Hi Anne,

    I am Eunice, a student taking the course “Writing for the Mass Media” of Indiana University. I am doing a assignment that requires me to interview a reporter or freelance writer. However, I do not know anyone who are having such job. So, can i make an email interview with you. It will be very nice if you can help. Thank you very much.

    Question:
    1. As a freelance writer, do you often need to do interview?
    2. What is the easiest interview that you have ever done?
    3. What is the most difficult interview that you have ever done?
    4. Do you have any unforgettable interview?
    5. What are the suggestions for students doing interview?

    Thanks,
    Eunice

  • admin

    Excellent point Devon – about how the systems shorten the time it takes to pitch, which means you can/will do more often.

    Jennifer, sounds like you’re on the right track.

  • I have a dedicated Freelance Pitch folder in my email account. Whenever I send out a pitch or query, I blind copy (BCC) myself and then file it in that folder. Then I have a record of everything that I’ve applied for. Every so often, I comb through the folder and reply to the original query or pitch and follow up. And of course, I BCC those, too.
    I’m not quite organized enough to have a detailed pitch log like Devon, but maybe one day I’ll set up something like that.

    Jennifer L’s last blog post..So I’m a little behind…

  • I keep a pitch track log and a submission log.

    The pitch log has the date, the email address, information about the company, the position, what I sent (letter, samples, etc.) and room for follow up.

    If we wind up going to contract and I write an article, I note that in the pitch log, but track things like article submissions, book proposals, etc., in the submission log.

    Both of these help me with follow up.

    I have a Pitch folder where I keep a copy of the job listing and a copy of my pitch letter, just in case i need to refer back.

    I also keep my clip files up to date, both hard copies and electronic, so all I have to do is attach the appropriate file when I pitch or query.

    If you take the time to set up the systems so it only takes 15 minutes to pitch rather than an hour to hunt down materials, you’ll pitch more and therefore sell more.

    My two cents.

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