I’ve always been a fairly organized person. Even when my work desk looks messy, I can see that everything is put in its proper “area” so to speak. My slight OCD-ness makes it easy for me to be organized when it comes to my desk.
But I used to think that creativity had to come from within, without any rhyme or reason. I wrote my first book–In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent—like that. I just let the story flow, without writing any notes or plotting any story line. I think it came out as a good finished product, but my goal isn’t just good–I want GREAT!
So when it came time to write The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I figured I’d approach it from a different angle. I laid out a fairly rough structure for the story, and made sure that it adhered to my basic plan as I went. There were a few changes in the creative process, but by the end of the book, it still resembled the beast I had laid out in my notes.
Since then, that sort of organization has come naturally to me. I’ve got four or five documents for a single WIP, each with important notes on the character, callbacks to the last books, plots for future books (yes, I’ve already got most of Book 3 planned), and the character development I want to keep going. It has helped me to keep the overall story progression in mind, leading to a much more cohesive story.
Don’t think the organization ends there! I have my daily work planned out so that I know pretty much when I will be done with my day job, and I’ve got my gym workout down to a science. Fitting in my 1,000 words per day is much easier because I have my afternoon organized (I’ll try to write when the missus hits the gym in the PM).
You may not think that creativity is organized, but most artists NEED some form of organization in their lives. Without organization, your art will meander all over the place. It will never be as consistent as it needs to be, and you’ll end up with characters with multiple personalities, dramatic twists in your plot that never lead anywhere, and MASSIVE plot holes.
That’s not to say that everyone needs to write down every detail of their story before writing it. Creativity needs room to breathe, and too much organization can quickly stifle a great story. But a modicum of organization can make all the difference between a good story and a GREAT one.