They say that the other half of writing is reading, which I have certainly found to be the case. You can’t possibly hope to become a better writer if you aren’t spending at least a little time reading each day, and not only that, but you should enjoy reading so that you can better understand your audience. Of course, that means that your office (and your living room…and your bedroom…and your garage…) will become repositories for all of your reading materials – namely, books and magazines.
Freelance writers must employ a system that allows them to keep books and magazines under control. If you just throw them onto whatever shelf is available, you won’t be able to find them when you look. Plus, an organized home and office is much more conducive to productivity. So follow these tips for keeping your books and magazines under control.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Keep Essential Resources Close to Your Desk
There are certain books that you, as a freelance writer, will use on a regular basis to supplement your writing. Your dictionary, thesaurus, Writer’s Market, and your Chicago Manual of Style should be stored in close proximity to your desk.
The hutch mounted to the top of my desk is a perfect place for storing these resources, and when I need them, I can just reach up and grab. You can also purchase a short book shelf to keep next to your desk for these resources.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Store Books According to How You Search
Freelance writers often search their shelves for particular books to aid in the writing of an article or book, so you’ll need to be able to find them quickly. Think about the last time you went to your bookshelf to search for a particular title. Did you scan the bindings for the author’s name or did you look for the first few words in the title? It doesn’t make any sense to organize your books by author’s last name if you can never remember the names of the authors, so organize your books according to how you search for them.
My current method – and it seems to work well – is to organize books the same way you would find them in the library or at the local bookstore. All of my writing reference books are grouped together, followed by books on law, and so on.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Separate Non-Fiction from Fiction
When you’re working on a freelance article about parenting, you probably won’t want to wade through Stephen King and Anne Rice titles in order to find the right resource. I would advise you to keep one bookshelf (or more) for non-fiction, and relegate your fiction titles to another shelf. This will allow for faster searches.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Put Magazines in Baskets
Magazines tend to pile up much faster than books, but they don’t really fit on a shelf. And if you have lots of subscriptions, they won’t easily fit into those filing boxes for magazines. Instead, consider purchasing several inexpensive baskets for magazines. As a freelance writer, you will often use magazine articles as inspiration or resources in your writing.
These can be found at Garden Ridge, Hobby Lobby or even Wal-Mart. Then separate your magazines into appropriate baskets in whatever way works for you. When a basket starts to overflow, you’ll know it’s time to toss the older ones.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Tear Out Articles
This is only for magazines – please don’t start ripping out pages in books! When you don’t need an entire magazine as a reference, it sometimes pays to just tear out the article. Mark a hanging file in your filing cabinet as Magazine Articles and place them in there for future reference. This allows you to save pertinent information without all the additional clutter.
Keep Books and Magazines Under Control: Consider Shelving
It can be really frustrating when all of your bookcases have shelves at the exact same height, but some of your larger books – such as references – don’t fit. When you’re shopping for bookshelves, choose at least one with adjustable shelves so all of your books can fit.
You’ll also want to make sure you have a heavy-duty bookshelf for hardbound volumes that add considerable weight. One of my sister’s bookshelves came crashing down off the wall one day because it buckled under the weight, which can be an expensive repair. For your hardbound books, choose a shelf that sits on the floor.