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It's in the (Color Coded) Bad! Organizing Tips for Right-Brained Writers

by Amy O'Quinn


I am a predominately right-brained person, and I thrive on ideas and dreams. I am highly visual, creative, and impulsive, rather than systematic, logical, and analytical. I am also easily distracted. Unfortunately, I have discovered that my creative nature can result in big messes, if I’m not diligent. I struggle with keeping a tidy writing area, and my research piles/books tend to take over my desk. I’m a stacker instead of a filer, and sometimes I spend too much time looking for things.


On the flip side, if something is out of my sight—it is usually out of my mind. I really need to be able to SEE my stuff or at least have it readily available. Therein lies one of the biggest obstacles of organizing for the right-brained person.


Keep It in the Bag

Like most writers, I often have several projects going on simultaneously. Each project requires its own set of resources. Yet when I am trying to focus on one particular manuscript, having books and materials from other projects stacked around me can be a big distraction.


Now, I realize that for left-brained/naturally organized people, there is an obvious solution to this problem— simply clear away all materials/ books not related to the current project, utilize filing cabinets and bookcases for storage, and focus only on today’s work. Such a quandary might seem silly. But again, out of sight is out of mind for most right-brained people.


Therefore to combat too many piles from too many projects, I have started using large canvas tote bags. I assign each bag to a specific project and put the books, materials, and other resources from that project inside. The bags are then stored in my office closet. When I need to work on a certain assignment, I grab the designated bag and set everything out on a folding table beside my desk where I can see it all. Afterwards, I put everything back inside the bag and store it again. I like the mental satisfaction (and security) of knowing I can easily access the materials as needed.


Color Code It

I also came up with the idea to color code my tote bags/projects—for an extra brain jog. It’s a proven fact that color is an important organizing tool for the right-brained person. Therefore, the most pressing project with the closest deadline goes into the red patterned bag. My other bags in the line-up of rank are blue floral, black toile, and green striped, respectively. Other writers might choose solid colored bags, but I like bright, fun patterns.


White Board Tickler

Another tip that works for me is to use my white board as a tickler and a reminder of what is due and when. Again, using different colored markers, I list the name of each project/deadline. If I need to make a call, renew a book, schedule an interview, confirm a fact, etc. I make a note under the corresponding project. After each step is completed, I cross it off! At the end of each week, I rewrite an updated list.


Again, I realize that using a calendar or a phone app would work just as well, and the writing space would appear less cluttered. But for the visual organizer, this is a great solution.


Organization is personal. But if you are a visual, right-brained person, you have probably already discovered your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Perhaps these tips will help you become a more productive writer by knowing you can mentally relax with the assurance that ‘it’s all in the bag’—literally!



*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.




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