I am one of those people that can be fondly referred to as anally organized. It’s rare that I ever throw anything out for class or work. All my emails are labelled, all my electronic files are in file-folders, all my hard copy documents are hole punched and in 3 ring binders, organized by class. While this level of organization decreases the headaches I get when I need to refer back to them later, it can also be a pain to go through and organize everything in the first place, and it takes time. But, this level can be very helpful when writing papers.
Despite all my various forms of organization and neatness, I am a messy writer. When I sit down to write a paper, I spread out. My notes are in piles, my prompt is sitting off to the side, outside sources are in piles, parts of my paper I have written out by hand are in piles, while some is also typed up on my laptop. I am all over the place. But, there is a reason I’m able to do that. I already know where everything I need to write my paper is, so I am able to divide it up by piles based on topic. It’s my organized mess.
When writers run into blocks, or aren’t sure how they are going to use a source, or whatever problem they are facing, part of the problem could quite possibly be the various forms of distractions they face while they are writing. These can come from the environment they are in, the other homework they have to get done in addition to writing their paper, and the constant flipping and searching through the information they have to find what they are looking for. It is hard to eliminate all the distractions we face when we write, so controlling the ones that we can, is essential, and organization is one way to help this.
I’m not saying that every writer should be as organized as me. I am a little obsessive (just a little) when it comes to my writing for school, and when I write creatively all forms of organization go out the window. I’m not perfect. But, just keeping everything in the same place, or at least the same general area, so you can easily refer back to it, dividing things up based on topic or aspect of the paper or prompt, whatever floats your boat, can make a world of difference.