Lists. Charts. Calendars. Schedules. Spreadsheets. And more lists.
I tend to be a very organized person. But even I find it difficult to keep abreast with the many projects I'm involved in-writing and otherwise. I'm all for creating charts and check lists to help my aging brain keep everything in its rightful place.
I know writers come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, but I think we must all develop some system for keeping track of our projects. Otherwise we get confused, befuddled, and dingy. We make mistakes. Then, we look unprofessional. Writing is, after all, a profession. At this time in my life it is MY profession.
So, I strive to do it as professionally as I can.
That means doing little things well. Things like following guidelines. VERY important.
A few months ago I finished a proposal for a children's PB which was an adaptation of the Biblical account of Creation. I worked on that thing every day for a couple of months. Polished, re-polished, triple-polished. At last I thought it was ready. This particular publisher takes email submissions with attachments. So I buffed up my to-the-point-but-courteous email, attached revision #46 of what I thought was the proposal, and hit SEND.
Five minutes later (or, perhaps I should say, 5 minutes too late) I realized that I had attached the wrong document. It was an understandable mistake, I tried to convince myself, but it was a huge one. The document I actually attached was the full ms instead of the proposal.
This publisher's guidelines say specifically "Do not send full manuscripts unless requested."
I grabbed a paper sack and took a few deep breaths. Then I emailed an apology to the editor with the correct attachment.
Faster than Spider Man swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper I received a reply. A courteous and professionally stated rejection.
Ouch! One tiny mistake and my name is probably doo-doo with that particular publisher.
Maybe, if I'd had a better system of naming my documents or filing my documents or organizing my documents I could have avoided that mistake. Maybe.
The human brain can concentrate on only one thing at a time. Even mine, as much as I hate to admit it. I'm not super-writer. I can not do 10 things at the same time and do them well.
But I can keep track of 10 things if I have a workable system in place. A list. A chart. A calendar. A schedule. A spreadsheet. A filing system. Or even 3 X 5 cards or file folders or something that keeps me accountable to myself. If I try to simply wing it, I'm bound to take a nose dive like my recent experience.
And my nose can take just so many dives before it's permanently bent out of shape.
If you have a chart, a list, a check list, a spreadsheet, etc. that you'd be willing to share with me please email me pronto! My nose is still a bit sore and I don't want to land on it anymore.
I have some simple submission tracking sheets I created and I'll be glad to share them with you by email. Just let me know if you prefer a pdf or a word doc.