Make It Work for You

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Thanks to Ladyheart on morguefile for this image.COMPUTER_AND_MOUSE.jpg
If you're only using your computer for word processing, internet and emailing, you're missing out. Make that box help you stay organized and even keep you on task.

First, organize. If you haven't already, create computer folders to classify your writing projects: nonfiction, fiction. Those folders might include subfolders: picture books, magazine pieces, etc. Break it down farther if needed (i.e. separate folders for each specific novel in your novel folder).

Did you type up your notes from a conference? Save them in a marketing folder on your computer. Store electronic copies of guidelines and theme lists there, too. Use a document to record books you've read, the publisher, and your thoughts.

Maintain a file for "manuscripts out." Include a section for ones to be sent plus what each house or magazine has from you now. A file that lists each publisher and what you've sent is a helpful companion.

Use a spreadsheet or a money management program to keep track of writing expenses and income to make tax filing easier.

Back up these important files and folders on a regular basis. A USB drive is an inexpensive and quick way to do so. I also love using dropbox to make it easy to copy files from my desktop to my laptop and vice versa.

Second, keep on task. Use your computer as an electronic nagger. You can schedule "to do" items, including deadlines, and set up a program to remind you. Microsoft Outlook is probably the most common one, but there are many reminder software programs available if you don't have one. They vary in cost from free to $60, with many in the $20-25 range. Investigate them on the Internet. Often you can download one and try it for free before buying.

Making our computers work for us takes self-discipline. We have to make ourselves: keep information up-to-date, back up folders and files, and schedule deadlines. However, the structure of being organized and staying on task can free us to get back to our first love--writing!

(I'll confess this is a reprint of my one of my own articles. It's been in the SCBWI Bulletin and on the Rx for Writers portion of the Institute of Children's Literature site. But, I'm getting ready to move 1800 miles and knew it would be a quick way to get a post up.)

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