Fridays With Freddie - Keeping Things Organized

I'm back already? I know, crazy, right? Well like I said I had some ideas to help me keep posting with more regularity. I'm instituting Fridays with Freddie where I'll blog about any number of topics from inspiration and book reviews, to behind the scenes in my books and newsworthy events.

I'm starting today off easy with a common question authors get: How do you keep your ideas organized? 

This is a multi-response question here because it depends on what we're talking about. I tend to get ideas all the time. I mean, all the damn time. While at Day Job, while eating, while showering, on the train, in those moments when I'm rolling over and trying to get back to sleep. All. the. time. But they're scattered and ephemeral, not usually something solid I can get started on right away. Or they're for future books that I have to put aside because that's not my current WIP. When I get bombarded by ideas like that, I need to get on top of them immediately, so that I'm not running around like this:

So how do I wrangle these ideas so they don't distract me and so I don't forget them when I am in a position to flesh them out? I keep an Idea Diary. It was an idea from my best friend, who suggested I keep a digital journal (since that medium works best for me and I can access anywhere) of these stray ideas, categorized and tagged so I can come back to them anytime. it gives my brain the sense that yes, I have noted this idea. But then it lets me refocus, and also remember those details months or even years later when I can sit down and tackle it.

It's been a godsend.

So moving onto when I am in medias res and I'm ready to get the story written - how do I stay organized. I'm a plotter, so I outline. I don't always (ever) stick 100% to that outline, but it's great to keep me grounded and on the right path for the story. This method doesn't work for everyone, but it's great for me.

And finally, how do I keep characters organized in my head, especially in a series? Spreadsheets. I goddamn love spreadsheets. I once created a spreadsheet for a Dungeons and Dragons character, just because I could (her weapon stats were insane and it was such a help). But spreadsheets help to keep character motivations and decisions organized. At the end of each book in a series (and I mean the sorts of series when the same characters reappear in each book to continue an overarching story, not where it's just the same setting but each book focuses on new characters), I have a column that says where each character left off, both developmentally and physically. If they left country A to start their quest and ended up in country B, I note that so that when the next book is ready to write, I know where they are. It's hella helpful.

So while I sometimes still feel like there's a lot going on here and everything's crazy, using these organizational skills help me go from crazy pants to:

BOOM. What about you? What are some of your favorite tools to organize yourself and your writing? Do you used specific programs? Let me know in the comments.


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