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Are Your Writing Files a Mess? Does it Matter?

Does it matter if your writing files are a mess? And, if so, what can you do about it?

This summer, a book coaching client agonized over the mess her writing files had become.

Lisa Tener, Book Coach

“Old stuff and new. All mixed together. I can’t find anything.”

She had research files, articles, and various versions of her chapters.

Can you relate? Maybe your “mess” isn’t quite as extensive, but even a small amount of disorganization can overwhelm a writer.

And then, the writing just doesn’t get done. Or you write, but it feels increasingly overwhelming as the material grows.

Get Help!

If your writing files (or your office) are a mess, perhaps you need someone to help. I find that just by having someone sit with me and put my piles into folders, I stop hyperventilating and begin to calm down. If I’m left to my own devices, the stress grows, damaging my creativity, enthusiasm, productivity and effectiveness.

I often find myself with a backlog of typing to do—converting my files from handwritten scrawl. Nowadays, plenty of programs help with that—from Google Docs (voice option) to Otter.ai.

But there’s also value to help from a real live person, especially if you are disorganized, need feedback or crave a little companionship on the sometimes lonely journey of writing!

During summer, one great source of help can be a high school or college student, perhaps a responsible nephew, niece or neighbor who would love the work experience, the cash and something to put on their resume.

Do You Need Professional Help?

Of course, if your manuscript or book proposal is a mess, that’s a whole ‘nother story. You probably need more than a student. It may be time to consider a developmental edit for a messy manuscript. An editor can make sense of the mess, suggest changes to structure, what to take out or move, what’s missing or could strengthen your work, etc.

Are you working on a book proposal? A publishing coach can help ensure that the proposal has all the elements a literary agent and acquisitions editor is looking for. They’ll be able to give you insider tips and help you brainstorm things like how to grow your platform and elements that can improve your marketing plan. They’ll help you emphasize the things that will make the biggest difference to publishers and can give you feedback on everything from tone to format to book concept and revising the sample chapters. And they can help you turn a messy list into a polished proposal.

If you need a referral for a developmental editor or book proposal coach, feel free to reach out, and I can do my best to match you with an excellent professional. I have one spot for book proposal editing myself in August. Does the spot have your name on it? Email me, and we can explore.

Your Turn

What challenges are coming up for you? What’s working? What’s not? What tips (or questions) do you have to share with our blog community?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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