messyoffice2

Distracted by business in the real world and a huge pile of scripts to read to deadline, a return to my own beloved laptop was a bittersweet experience this week.

I felt like one of those people who returns home from holiday to discover – horror! – that they’ve been burgled, only to realise that they’re simply one messy bastard.

I booted-up – do computers still boot up, these days, or do they simply switch on? – to discover my desktop plastered with files. From the top of the screen to the bottom.

First drafts, seconds drafts, fragments of drafts, final drafts, second final drafts, final final drafts of numerous projects. FDRs, PDFs, DOCs, DOCXs. Scripts, novels, play fragments, log lines, treatments, scene-by-scene breakdowns.

All sitting there on the desktop just so I know where to find them. All there because I don’t have the patience to file them properly. And now look, I can find them alright, I just have no idea which version I should be working on. And, oh my christ, look – half a dozen flash drives full of updated work. But which are the most recent?

I’ve no idea, so I reach into my bag, and onto my shelves, for hard copies.

They’ve all been scribbled over, with various stuff underlined once, twice, three times – just so I know, you see, that that was absolutely my last word on the project – and then, oh shit, four times. Bits of paper, receipts, newspapers, post-it notes, various notebooks, folders full of old scripts plastered with copious thoughts, all mixed up with other business. Old ideas mingling with new ideas. Yes, I was very much his favourite once upon a time, dontchaknow, until you came along. 

And I think, this really can’t go on. It just can’t. So I’m going through it all, bit-by-bit, so I can sort the old from the new, the work-in-progress with good notes from the work-in-progress with the extra bad notes. 

The waste paper bins, both virtual and real, are gaping. The shredder is at my feet. I’ve chosen one loyal notebook who shall travel by my side until I lose him or he strays too far, and I’ll be forced to pick up another.

Tomorrow, I’m going to five serious consideration to picking up my clothes from the bedroom floor. But, better not get ahead of myself. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Can anyone recommend a good book about organisation? Because I think I’m struggling here.

There’s no doubt about it, my organisation stinks to high heaven  – always has, to be honest – and I need to do something about it. In my old life at work my desk was a fucking mess but, thanks to experience and instinct, everything managed to work out just fine.  

But left to my own devices – the best Pet Shop Boys song by a mile, n’est pas? – I’m struggling to find a method to help me move swiftly between writing projects.

The preparation, that vital process that allows you to plunge into a new project swiftly and efficiently, is missing in action.

So I’ve got files and papers galore, millions of notebooks with single, perplexing notes in each of them, I’ve got multiple writing areas and two  computers and innumerable flash drives that get lost on a regular basis. I’ve got no deadlines, and no forward plan, and no routine to speak of except for a fixed block of time every day. 

So what happens is, I come to the end of one project, and I get down because the building blocks for the next are not in place.

The creativity is there, the methodology is somewhat lacking.So I need a method. Perhaps some Amazon-minded guru has written a book for the feeble-minded like myself. 

Perhaps like me you are not the most-organised ladies and gentlemen in the world, but maybe you found a way to move forward. Maybe you got a time-and-motion fellow in, or found a tome. Maybe you had a eureka-moment, or possibly it took you many years to hit your stride.

Tell me your secret to creative productivity. What are the processes I should be building into my work-day?

As I say, I’m interested.