Wait, don’t rush forward

Five weeks after the second day of the new year

When you finish working on a book, it’s tempting to rush to move on. It’s all done, you think. I can transfer my attention to my next book now. There’s eager anticipation, a need to feel that excitement again, the energy of your mind as it revs up, as it crafts a new story, new lives, a new world.

That is what’s pulling at Author now. But she understands it’s important not to rush forward before she makes sure everything she has done so far is wrapped up. Underlying the book she’s now completing are thoughts, ideas, research, countless details that have made into the story. She wants to be able to go back to these at any time she chooses to in the future and be able to follow her then-process in as clear a manner as possible, refresh her memory with every detail. She certainly doesn’t want to repeat herself in future books, use the same characters, same characterization, same story lines, just because she doesn’t recall what she did in the past. And for a book such as her current one, the first in a series, she wants to make sure she can seamlessly continue those characters, characterization and story lines that do need to live on.

And so Author and Sister’s tip for you this week is: Be organized. From the moment you begin your work, maintain orderly records. Keep everything clearly marked so that you can go back to your material a year, ten years, ten books from now. Don’t assume you’ll remember it all. As soon as you start a new book your mind will be filled with new information, and everything you’ve done until then will no longer be as fresh in your thought. And there is another benefit to keeping orderly records—it frees you mind for new input. If you know everything you have done so far is recorded, you can let it go, let new ideas rush in.

The same goes for those of you on the marketing side of the publishing venture. You are surrounded by an abundance of information from countless sources. For you, being organized means the ability to look back on what you’ve learnt and done, see the entire picture stretched before you so that you can form and re-form what you see into new ideas, or cross these out and put yours in their stead as your experience and confidence grow. Like the author, your focus integrates an increasing number of books, all in need of sometimes differing attention. You need to be able to track your work, mark what worked and what didn’t, and see both clearly at all times.

And so yes, Author and Sister do their best to keep records of what they do. Author likes to keep hers in purely computerized form, in documents she is still learning the best way for her to organize, with all kinds of hyperlinks and bookmarks so she can find what she needs easily even as the volume of information she maintains grows and diversifies. And Sister prefers notebooks, clearly marked with different colors, and the use of lists and post-its she organizes on her walls in a brilliance of colors that easily stir her memory, making sure she doesn’t miss anything. There are many ways to remember your past work, choose the one that is convenient for you.



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