QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Writer Productivity Tip: Simplify Life

This month, the QueryTracker Blog Team is celebrating the upcoming release of the newest version of QueryTracker.net.

Patrick Mcdonald, creator of QT, has been hard at work on improvements to the main site that will make the query process even more organized, effective and less stressful. We are excited about this fifth version of QueryTracker and are celebrating the release with multiple giveaways. 

Over the next five weeks, we will giveaway five hundred dollars to celebrate the fifth version of the customizable database of literary agents, QueryTracker.net! 5x5x5.


Woo! All prizes will be gift cards to Apple, Barnes & Noble or Amazon, and will be randomly awarded through Rafflecopter giveaways, so stay tuned. The contest will go live on February 8:

To get in the spirit for this newest release of QT, each blog team member will share his/her own personal tips on how we keep (or try to keep) our writing or writing process/career organized, less stressful, and more effective. For me, this first tip is is as simple as...

Keep it Simple

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein
I wrote three books in three different genres last year under two different names for two different publishers. I also have three teen children, one of which is on the autistic spectrum. Life is not simple. What I've discovered, though, is that nobody's life is simple, but it can be simplified. And that is an incredibly valuable tool with regard to productivity.

The quote above is hanging above my computer. I've had it there for years, but never really took it to heart until recently, even though I knew it was important enough to print it out and tack it to the wall.

My desire to streamline my life and make my writing time more productive forced me to make some significant changes. First of all, my husband and I sold our large house in the suburbs. My kids are all graduating or have graduated high school, and we no longer needed the hassle of the yard and commute.

Now, I'm not saying my key to writing is adopting a minimalist lifestyle, but there are perks to unloading the burden of maintenance and lawn care. I have a significant chunk of time freed up by moving to a lower upkeep home.

I also had an estate sale and sold off well over half of my belongings from clothes to collectibles, to antique furniture. Whew. Less dusting and cleaning... more writing.

Applying this "less is more" mentality to my life has left me happier, more relaxed, and more productive.

For me, a messy desk was not the sign of an organized mind, it was the sign that I needed to make better use of my time and space. Other people might thrive on chaos, but for me, organization, both physical and mental (Yep, I'm a full-outline plotter), is the key to productivity. I try to purge myself of all my self-imposed chaos, both physical and in my writing rituals that make starting the day's work difficult. Now, (for the most part) I can write anytime, anywhere, on any device with a keyboard.

I start my books with a clean desk in a clean office on a clean page. How about you guys? Anyone else out there freed up by simplifying?

Remember to stay tuned for the 5x5x5 giveaway!


Wendy said...

Inspiring post. Focusing on what we love the most isn't easy, but important!

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

So true, Wendy. We get so caught up in the trappings of ownership and success, we miss out on important things. Thanks for the comment. :)

Rochelle Deans said...

I've been working on the real-life simplicity and it's crazy how creating actual space in my life makes room for the mental space you need to get things done.

kbrebes said...

Amen! I've been de-cluttering for three years now, and I am going minimalist. Francine Jay's books, Miss Minimalist and The Joy of Less, are my favorites. In the beginning, I very much enjoyed Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer. With a clear house and a clear mind, writing is easier. : )

Adriana Mather said...

I couldn't agree more! The things you own wind up owning you. Great post, Mary!

Yolanda Renée said...

As a rule everything is in its place and there's a place for everything, but things do get cluttered once in a while. Like right before a big deadline, or the creation of a new draft, then all that's important is the writing. Even the family goes hungry, but once the push is over the clutter has to go. Organized is the only way I can really get it done!

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

It is maddening that our settings don't allow me to reply individually to comments. I'll see if I can get that straightened out. Thank you Yolanda, Adriana, Kbrebes, and Rochelle for your thoughts. It is so freeing mentally and emotionally to be free of physical clutter. And yes, Kbrebes, I love Ms. Jay's books. I started way back with The Messies Manual, which was a great start, but not enough for my complex life. Thanks again, everyone. Check back for our giveaway starting up on Feb 8!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

For me, organization is half the battle of being focused. The other have is atmosphere. I have to be in a place that "feels" right. I can't work in my husband's (house) office. It's too business like and grown up. My office is full of books and paintings and art supplies. It's a bit cluttered, but it's organized clutter. LOL

Debra Daugherty said...

Keep it simple is my new motto. Also, I need to have a sale and get rid of clutter, too. Less clutter in life, more time to write. Yes!

Kelly Polark said...

Cleaning my desk is next on my to do list today ! Seriously! But I have to admit I'm not the most organized person.

debbie said...

Great ideas and advice I find if my work station is disorganized or in chaos that I am unproductive and out of sorts