Knowing where to start was a major barrier I faced when I sat down to write. I lost precious time searching for poems, gathering research or trying to be inspired. Much of the time I had allotted to write was wasted. A fellow poet mentioned that she created binders for her poetry projects and renowned dancer, Twayla Tharp uses boxes to store materials. (View a sketch note video on her book here.)
Putting all of my materials in one place has made writing less stressful and my writing time more productive. I’ll walk you through my process so you can try it out to see if helps you.
First, get a binder. I opted for a quality binder so I didn’t want time and money replacing binders. I also purchased a binder that was pretty because visually appealing items inspire me. I got scrapbook binders from Hobby Lobby during a half off sale and a regular binder from Target.
Second, create sections. These vary based on the project. For example, I’m working on an audiobook of lynching poems. My sections include research, poems other poets have written about lynching, my old poems and new poems I am writing. I also have paper in the binder for writing new poems.
I recently added a section of photocopied poems. Whenever I feel stuck, I look to these poems for inspiration on form, style, etc. I may add a section of images since many of my poems are inspired by visuals.
Create sections that are helpful to you. Add as you go and take away what doesn’t work. Consider writing an artist’s statement about why you are doing the project and include in your binder. It can serve as a motivator or a compass during low times.
What if you are not working on a specific writing project, can the binder still work? I think so. You can create sections of different types of inspiration.This can be quotes, other poems, images, sketches, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Third, label your binder. Seeing the name of the project on my binder helps me be more connected to the project. I don’t fall into the out of sight out of my mind phenomenon.
Fourth, get to writing.
What I love about my binder is that I can take it with me anywhere I go, and I don’t need technology. I don’t have to spend time looking for materials. I have everything I need in one more place. Now, I spend more time creating, and I feel less overwhelmed.
If you prefer an electronic version, you could create folders on your laptop or use Padlet or similar programs. Here is a video a fiction writer made about her binder and one made by a writer turned business coach.
I think this system can work regardless of what genre you write in. If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you.