The Write Attitude On Paperwork Day
do not have the luxury, unless employing a personal assistant, to ignore
the standard paperwork that piles up all around us as we happily go
about our craft. Pile meant in either physical or electronic terms. A
full email box of to-do’s can be as daunting as stacks of paperwork
that shield you from the outside world beyond your desk.
handle such mundane and uninteresting tasks as answering correspondence,
filing, submissions and billing, etc. Most of us would rather do
anything but paperwork. Unfortunately, we can’t rook our kids or
spouse into doing it while we tackle one of their chores because
business paperwork is a personal thing. Yes, writing is a business and
yes it’s personal. Your 15 year old would have no idea what to do with
that number on the back of the Walmart receipt, the password scribbled
on tissue or the folded napkin complete with future article draft. They
love us, but they have their limits. They’d rather clean their rooms.
We must take
care of these tedious chores on our own. We’re stuck. So, pour another
mug of hot coffee, have a seat and lets begin. (sounds like tax time,
That pile you
laughingly call scrap paper but is actually an e-book in
progress…stick that in a file folder and put it somewhere. I don’t
know, pick a spot. Chances are good that a few pages can be found in
your youngest’s pile of doodles. How was she to know it was important.
Sort out those
bits and pieces of columns you have floating around your work
environment. Use this maintenance time to file them away AFTER finishing
a complete thought on them. Expand on the notes a little. Otherwise
you’ll be looking at them sometime in the dusty future and wonder what
the hell you meant at the time. You know it was brilliant, but it’s
Undo the paper
clips you’ve strung together. Yes, I realize this isn’t
“paperwork” but it has the word paper in it. Paperclips have lost
their importance. With the business of electronic everything, who needs
to clip papers together. Especially writers. We don’t believe in
organization. We function in a semi-continuous state of chaos. So,
paperclips have become a toy. Something to fiddle with if our fingers
aren’t busy at the keyboard. Keep them handy; they’re wonderful
doodle-stoppers while you’re on the phone.
When you begin
to see your desk top (notice that is two words, not desktop; we’re
talking about an actual wood/metal/plastic piece of the furniture that
holds your computer) you’ll know you’re on the right track. Tidy and
put away everything you can. I know it’s hard. There will be a period
of adjustment. But like any good thing, adjustment will come.
suggestion to make your paperwork life easier. I don’t know about you,
but I tend to know exactly where things are. I realize my writing space
looks like a blowup at the paper recycling plant, but I can find
anything. I know the reason each scrap of paper exists. To accommodate
tidiness and still remain in control of my bizarre collection of snips
and scraps, I devised a
solid system for filing.
Get 5 plain
file folders. Never use the labels. You are far more concerned with
accuracy as opposed to looking nice. Who needs labels that curl and fall
off on humid days? Just scrawl the following names on the folders. If
you’re like me, you’ve lost that writing callus that took a lifetime
to build to withstand any pencil or pen and your handwriting sucks.
Typos can be fixed. Penmanship is a lost art. Label the folders thus –
corner, Left upper corner, Left lower corner, hard drive top and sides,
Got that done?
Ok, good. Now the beauty of this system is its simplicity.
Take the piles
of scrap paper and such, located at the corresponding desk area, and put
them in the correctly labeled file folders. Stick the whole mess in
there and close it.
I realize the
system is not perfect (mistress of understatement here) but it has one
distinct advantage. I know, by location, where everything is. This
leaves me the option of knowing what location that file came from. Odd?
Yes. Bizarre? Ok. But it works for me.
The only thing
I haven’t figured out is where to put the boxes of files I have,
marked “file cabinet top drawer, file cabinet bottom drawer”.
parent teacher wife
artist poet coo
humorist woman volunteer student
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