5 Ways to Get Your Writerly House in Order

In the northern hemisphere, autumn is now officially upon us. We’re experiencing a rare run of dry, sunny weeks in the Pacific Northwest, but soon the rains will be upon us. “Novembruary” means the rains start in October/November and don’t let up until February (or more often, May). So right now is a great time to get the exterior and grounds of my house in order.

In the past week, I’ve moved the compost, gathered and frozen extra produce from the greenhouse, and emptied the gutters. I live in a log house, so I swept the outside logs and checked that the caulking is intact. My hot tub turned itself off a few weeks ago while I was out of town, and since then tree frogs have taken up residence on its rim (ahem: frogs produce a lot of shit). So I emptied, cleaned, and refilled the hot tub. I live on a small island where power outages are common, so I’m checking the batteries in the flashlights. Now I’m finishing a lean-to for tools and stacking logs for my wood stove.

Whew. It’s a lot, but it’s something I plan for each year. I like the self-sufficiency my efforts afford me, and it beats starting from scratch. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Hocus Pocus, “Everyone wants to build, but no one wants to do maintenance.”

If you’re a writer, it’s never too early to get your writerly house in order. Try implementing these five tips throughout the year, perhaps every solstice or equinox.

  1. I see you with your multiple tabs, scraps of paper, stickie notes emerging from books, Scrivener folders and Word docs and Google docs. Get it all in one place.
  2. Back it up. Email that file to yourself as a stop gap. Save your file to an external hard drive and upload it to the cloud. And use a consistent file name, like “WorkingTitle_Date_v1”
  3. Will your writing project include photos? Sort and name them now.
  4. Including interviews? Complete them and have your interview subjects sign off on them.
  5. Start working on the parts of a book that writers typically leave to last (and then have to scramble to complete) like the acknowledgements and the endnotes.

Hiring an editor or a writing coach at this stage can help you complete this maintenance on your manuscript so it becomes routine rather than a big chore.

I’m lining up coaching clients for the fall, so drop me a line (ideally before the rains come).

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