Saturday, October 3, 2020

Tips to Organize Your Life for Writing

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Recently, my family watched Love It or List It on HGTV. The show is about a family that is deciding whether to stay in their newly renovated home or to move into a new house. In this episode, the stars were going through the original house and were surprised to discover how clean and organized everything was. Everything was in its place.

That was not my house.

My house is clean, probably not to Dr. Deborah Birx’s standards, but most three-year-olds would walk in. However, there are several areas that could use some organizing. I have thoughts and plans, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet.

I assume some of you understand how I feel. There are only so many hours in a day and way more things to do then the hours will allow. Maybe a day with extra hours will come by and then I’ll be able to get to them.

There are others of you cringing at the very thought of an unfinished project. Stepping around it would drive you crazy. You have to get-her-done before you could possibly focus on anything else.

I started with housework, but let’s think about this in other areas of our lives. (My wife said please leave her house out of it.) How do you approach you writing?

Do you have projects you want to get to when that longer day comes around?

Have you started projects only to abandon them waiting for that special feeling to return? 

Are you having difficulty deciding what to do next?

My first advice is don’t get down on yourself. Unless you are writing for someone else, a calendar is not always the best way to determine your writing progress. Intentions are nice, but there is a lot to learn before you should write your story and rushing it is usually not good.

Lately I’ve been growing in my appreciation for the power of mulling. Of taking time to carefully think about and analyze a topic. How would this situation look from a different perspective? It’s amazing at the insights taking time can bring up. And new insights are the jewels we writers sprinkle into our writings to make them sparkle.

The trick is knowing when to stop mulling and when to open the laptop. When does mulling morph into sloth? Uh, I’ll have to think about that.

Well, Tim. What should I do about getting those projects I’ve thought about or have half finished? 

I would tell you, like that family earlier who was thinking about moving...

Get Organized

1. Pare the clutter. 
First you need to determine what is important to you. Things change over time. When I started writing, I was helping people do resumes and manage their careers. I’m no longer interested in that. So, is it something you still care about? 

And is it something you have passion for? Friends, family, and countrymen are so good at finding stories that they think should be told. That doesn’t mean you’re the one who should do it. Going back to there are only so many hours in the day, is this something you want to spend your precious, and valuable, time on? 

If the answer is no or not now, you can either delete or trash it, or archive or box it up. I’m more into deleting things. If it’s good, God will bring it back up. But I will never underestimate what can be found in my Mom’s attic. It may be a treasure. Or a rat’s nest. 

2. Prioritize the Jobs 
Make a list or a stack of the remaining jobs in the order of their importance to you. No one else, within reason, but which means more to you. I like to put an easy one at the top to help get me started. 

3. Break the big stuff into parts
One of the things on my list is finish my fifth book. I have less than ten thousand words done so that is too big a project to put on my daily list. So, for the big stuff, bring it down into doable tasks. Maybe write five hundred or a thousand words. Maybe do some research or plot out the next few scenes. The main thing is keep the momentum moving forward. 

Breaking things into tasks also helps us get started. Thinking about writing a book, starting a blog, or creating a social media platform is enough to cause a panic attack and send you back under the blanket. But doing one page, determining when you will send out your blog posts, or working thirty minutes on two social media platforms, that’s something you can do. And still be able to breathe. 

4. Print out the list
Another superpower writers have is to make a list. (List-it Man) Nothing encourages me more to continue to work on my list than seeing something completed and checking it off. 

And the list saves me time thinking of what needs to be done next. 

Remember, you are the one who prioritize your tasks. Only you know what is your own unique goal. There may be a writer who writes articles similar to you, similar Bible studies, or in your same genre, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything the way she does. What will work for you? How is God leading you?

It all comes down to being in tune with Jesus. He is the one Who has THE plan for your live. Who will give you the power to accomplish great things. And Who will open and close the necessary doors. What a treat it must have been for Adam and Eve to stroll through the garden with Him? (No snakes then.) Isn’t that what He is offering to us?


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. Absolutely loved reading this. I am in the middle of paring down but forgot the “parts” portion. Thank you.

    1. Hope it helps. Thanks for reading and happy writing.

  2. Wonderful post, Tim. Appreciate the great insight.

  3. This is just what I needed today. Thanks!