Dreams & Confessions of a Disorganized Writer

by Jenny Hansen

I dream of being an organized person. Heck, I’d settle for being an organized writer. Fortunately for me, I married my organization gene, and he’s a keeper! But every year, as December goes into full swing and I’m hip-deep in wrangling the family holidays, I dream of being more organized.

And before all you Planner Unicorns start eagerly reaching for your Pomodoros, I’ve tried to be one of you. And I have failed. I lose the planners, the cute stickers, the schedules, and the list of resolutions…and it makes me feel like a failure.

I’ve had a bit more luck using technology to corral my ADD tendencies because my computer files are completely organized. Those suckers are pristine and on OneDrive where I can get them from anywhere, which I find very comforting. Also, Google calendar puts reminders right in my face, from both my phone and my computer, which means I actually remember my meetings and get to them on time.

I love technology.

Fun Tangent: here are some great posts from some of the bloggers at WITS on using technology to increase writing productivity:

What Holiday Disorder Looks Like at My House

All my organized friends are about to cringe and peek at these next paragraphs through their fingers. (Sorry in advance!) But this post is about providing comfort to the rest of the readers here. The ones who often feel overwhelmed by life and responsibilities. The ones who jot down book notes on their utility bill envelopes because they can’t remember where they put that notebook. The ones who read the paragraph below about my garage and send me a virtual fist bump.

If you often feel like you’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached, this section is for YOU. Hopefully, it will help you realize you are not alone.

My Disorganization Gene has a sub-category I’m reminded of every holiday season.

That’s when I lament that I am also in possession of the Stuff Disorder gene and the Oh-I-Forgot-I-Had-That gene. Thankfully, I married my husband, aka Mr. Disaster Recovery, and he passed the Supreme Organization gene on to my daughter.

Around the holidays, I depend on my hubby like a blind woman on her guide dog. I thank God for him all the time, but over the holidays — I’m just gonna say it — he saves my bacon every year.

Holiday time shines a strobe light on this not-so-secret shame of mine

I suck at keeping my stuff organized.

For example, when my husband we unpacked the Christmas stuff from the garage, I found scads of things I’d forgotten about:

  • Cards I meant to send last year.
  • Presents (including calendars) that were for 2017/2018 not this year.
  • 27 boxes of Christmas cards
  • 11 stockings (there are three of us)
  • 19 rolls of wrapping paper
  • 6 things of tissue paper (the jumbo kind)
  • 2 jumbo packs of Scotch tape
  • And NO blinky lights for outside (because we missed that after-holiday sale last year).

Hello? I’ve got enough Christmas cards for the entire block. Literally, all of my family and friends (and their friends) could come to my house to wrap their holiday gifts. And when I’m pressed for time, I end up using gift bags anyway (which is why the graphic at the top says “wrap a present”).

True Confessions

I’d be crushed by my mess if I hadn’t married the King of Organization.

Confession #1

I’ve stopped trying to get my cards out at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Nowadays, we just order New Year’s Cards. (In really bad years, they’re called Valentines… One really terrible year, I had St. Patrick’s day “hellos.”)

Confession #2

Most of the time I buy the cards and presents on time, forget where I put them, and have to spend valuable time digging them out. Sometimes I’ve had to re-shop. One year, for my Baby Girl’s birthday party, my husband asked if I would consider just wrapping and labeling everyone’s unsent presents and putting them on a table by the door so they could TAKE THEM HOME.

Confession #3

I have started combating this organizational deadlock by mailing gifts through the Fall, or even the moment I buy them. I label the package with an “open date.” I comfort myself with the thought that even if these gifts miss the proper occasion, at least it wasn’t because I was a slack-a$$.

On the upside, I started making many of my gifts these last few years. When I’m not buried under deadlines, I bake, paint, create and knit my way through the holiday season. It gives me joy and my gifts have that personal touch of love, even when they’re not usually timely.

We had The Year of Hats a few years back.

Something else I’m thankful for as I come skidding into the New Year all battered and bruised: I have two organized friends who share their Organizational Rockstar gene with me as holiday and birthday gifts most years. They help me start the New Year feeling hopeful that maybe this year I can be more organized.

My Holiday Writing Dreams

I not only dream of being an organized person, I also dream of being an organized writer. I have pals like Laura Drake who finish their shopping by the Fall and write all their books in a lovely linear fashion. She gets up every day at about 3 am to write for several hours. Honestly, I’d hate her if she wasn’t one of my fave peeps.

In my organized writer dreams, my life looks far different:

  • I have a set writing time every day.
  • I have an actual office space. With a desk and a big storyboard of my current works in progress.
  • I have an organized wall calendar.
  • I know where my planner is! And it has cute stickers in it.
  • I have an assistant who herds me along toward my goals. And mails packages.

Because let’s face it, without the last item on the list, I’d either forget about all these goals for weeks at a time, or I’d keep moving along in the same fits and starts that plague me now. And for sure, I wouldn’t have that cool wall calendar.

I’m blessed with lots of superpowers – I couldn’t be successful at my job or running WITS without them – but being organized isn’t one of them. On the upside, I’ve already made the almond roca this year.

Confession time! Did you inherit the Stuff Disorder gene or the Supreme Organization gene? Are you shuddering right now or nodding your head in agreement? Do the holidays shine their twinkly lights on your greatest strengths or your greatest weaknesses? Please tell me your story down in the comments!

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About Jenny

By day, Jenny Hansen provides corporate communications and LinkedIn advice for professional services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction, and short stories. After 20 years as a corporate trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Facebook at JennyHansenAuthor or at Writers In The Storm.

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