Organizational Tips for Your First Book as a Freelancer

You’ve decided the time is right to start giving life to your ideas by writing your first book. This decision can be equally exciting and daunting, particularly if you’re the sort of freelance writer who’s strictly focused on shorter pieces, such as articles. Even if you’re incredibly passionate about your book, it’s a journey that can have its ups and downs in terms of keeping the momentum going; that’s why it’s crucial to have an organizational plan in place.

Beginner’s Brainstorming

Although keeping things organized will play a significant role in your book as you progress through it, when you get started, you must give yourself permission to temporarily eschew structure for the sake of creativity – yes, even if your book is a work of nonfiction! You need this initial time for brainstorming, because even the shortest phrase you write down, the briefest subtopic, could be the catalyst for an entire chapter.

  • You might work best via a keyboard, but still consider getting yourself a journal or a notebook solely dedicated to “all things your book.”
  • If you plan on doing a lot of research, you might want to purchase a binder to accommodate everything.
  • Think about utilizing folders/pockets, whether they exist independently of your journal/notebook/binder, or are built-in. If they’re the former, think about purchasing a folder tray.
  • Are you working on a nonfiction piece with a lot of interview research? As you complete each session, save the respective audio files into a folder primarily by date, and secondarily by interview topic. It’ll make it that much easier to refer to and implement as you progress through your book.
  • The authenticity of actually writing down thoughts as opposed to typing them might make all the inspirational difference on those days when you feel as if you don’t have enough material to actually get your book off the ground.

Charting Your Course

Once you’ve assembled a good amount of ideas, it’s time to start sorting through them all. Say, for example, there are several sheets of paper/pages on which you’ve written sentences, words – whatever your process is. You might notice that there are a number of trends among them…

  • It could be beneficial to organize your ideas by topic lists, such as “Setting,” “Characters,” and “Plot.” *Go through your brainstorming notes and cross them off as you move them to each respective list – it’s a good way to start simplifying and streamlining your thoughts.
  • A tactic that can work for fiction: do you tell great stories? Then, write how you would speak!
  • Treat your book as if you’re telling a story in pieces.
  • Record yourself speaking, and then transcribe what you say, editing or embellishing details as you go.
  • As your story comes together, make sure you don’t go off into too many tangents – save some of those for future books if you’d like to write a series!

The Time Thing

This will have a lot to do with how established you are already as a freelance writer. If you’re going to self-publish, or have a deal with an indie publisher, then you might not be on as much of a timeline as if you were going the literary agent/major book publisher route.

  • If you make an effort to dedicate certain days to writing, with a target word count for those days, you might just find that your productivity will skyrocket!
  • Write slowly, and use Twitter? Search for #turtlewriters – it’s a great, supportive writing community.

In the end, what matters more than organization is how well you know yourself. Think about how you write best – is it under pressure/time constraints, or is it at more of a slow-to-moderate pace? Don’t try to change your style and rush things if it means sacrificing your best work and, more importantly, your own wellbeing in the process.

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