Organized Writing is the Best Writing

Interestingly enough, the idea for this post came off a napkin.


Or rather, I wrote the idea down on a napkin.


I do that a lot. If you opened the drawer of my nightstand, you’d find a small notebook full of ripped paper, napkins, and sticky notes all covered with late-night scrawls of half-thought out ideas. Not all of them are good, but I generally find that my best story ideas come to me as I’m lying awake at night, unable to sleep. For this reason, I keep a pad of blank paper in the drawer next to the notebook.


Now, the idea for this post didn’t happen late at night (hopefully not indicating non-goodness), but it did come to me in the middle of work, which isn’t necessarily the most convenient time to have a thought. What’d I have available in a kitchen? A napkin. Works for me.


It’s pretty easy to write down ideas as they come to you on anything that you happen to have nearby (and honestly, I’d recommend it), but that also means those written thoughts are pretty easy to lose. Organization is the key to writing and writing well, because if your thoughts are a jumbled up mess, so is your writing.


Not so good at keeping organized? Don’t worry. I got you covered with a few tips for jumpstarting your organization.


1) Transfer your scribbles to one location. I’m not really the best at this (as you can tell by the description of my notebook), but I can attest to the fact that it’s very difficult to put together a story with all your ideas on random pieces of junk. Not only is it hard to store all these objects, but it can also be difficult to read the hurried writing, which means ideas could become skewed or even forgotten if left alone for too long. Rewriting or typing these thoughts onto regular paper in a timely fashion can save you the headache of writer’s block later on.


2) Store your rewrites in one spot. In addition to the messy notebook, I’ve also got various ideas typed out on several word documents, each with a similar title to the others (“story ideas,” “musings,” etc.). Why have I done this? I’m not sure. It would certainly be a lot easier to have all my ideas in one word document or on one pad of paper where I can easily read and see them. Don’t follow my example.


3) Categorize. Categorize. Categorize. Start by making headings for each novel or piece of writing you’re working on. Then, make subcategories for character descriptions, locations, plot, dialogue, etc. Write down any of your ideas under the appropriate category so that they’re easier to go back to and find. Writing made easy. If that sounds like too much work, there’s a lovely little app that organizes for you, which I highlighted in a post here.


Of course, these tips are just to help really unorganized writers like me start to create some order in their writing process. If organized writing makes for easy writing, and easy writing makes for good writing, then that must mean that organization leads to good writing (If O = E and E = G then O = G. Hey, look. Math.).

Got your own way of organizing your writing? Tell me in the comments. Or, click on the picture below to see how famous authors kept notes.

J.K. Rowling’s method


7 thoughts on “Organized Writing is the Best Writing

  1. I always keep one notebook one me, one at home, and one in my drawer at work. I stick a post-it pad and pen in my purse when I’m on the go, that way when I get back to my desk/home I just peel the post it into the notebooks. Easy transfer, no need to rewrite 🙂

  2. I don’t know why but all the best ideas always come to me when I doing the dishes, walking down the street or while I’m on the bus. Because of that I used to carry a notebook with me but, since my handwriting is nearly illegible and it was an impossible mission to decipher, it was pointless to keep writing down my thoughts. Plus, I’m a mess and it was really hard for me to keep the notebook organized and it always ended up all fill with doodles and random stuff. That’s why now I use my phone. the notes app is still deorganized but at least I know what I wrote.

    • I can understand. Sometimes I can’t read what I’ve written either. I sometimes like to use a dictation app on my phone to catch a thought, especially if one comes to me while I’m driving. 😉

  3. I use composition notebooks recycled from classes I’ve taught, small professional notebooks from jobs I’ve worked, and sundry other notebooks, lined and not lined, which I have accumulated by various means over the years. In each of them is some scribbling. Usually I manage to keep all scribblings on one project in one notebook, but other than that I am fairly unorganized and just keep my notebooks in a general area of my living space. Oh, and I use OneNote in the MS Office suite. Love it. Except for my play. I’m keeping that in Celtx.

    • I love that you reuse those notebooks. I always feel so wasteful ’cause I always assumed professors would just throw them out. Way to recycle! 🙂 And as long as you’ve got one project in one notebook, I think you’re good to go. A lot of my stuff is just random scribbles which have no home at all. Once I figure out which project they’ll go with, I’ll hopefully take my own advice and get more organized with it. 🙂

  4. I’ve always wanted to write some sort of story but i never know where to start. I usually have ideas but no where to put them. Next time i’ll seriously consider writing it onto a napkin. 😛

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