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I have a natural inclination towards orderliness. I like everything to have its place and to put things away where they belong when I have finished with them. On my computer everything is neatly filed away in the correct folder and the desk where I write is arranged so that it doesn’t get cluttered. It gives me a sense of peace to work in an orderly environment.

For years, I have tried to write in an orderly manner, but I am coming to the conclusion that the process is inherently messy. Ideally, I want a system that I can follow each time, which should generate minimal debris. The way I have set that up is to plan stories using Goodnotes on my iPad, then using the plan I come up with there to write the first draft in Scrivener, to then export as a PDF, so I can do the edits on my iPad again and then type them up and the whole thing should be neat and easily contained.

That’s not how it works, though. Every time I try, I find myself compelled to get out pads of paper to make notes there rather than on my iPad. I jump back and forth between paper, Goodnotes and Obsidian.

It used to frustrate me, but I am coming to the conclusion that doing that isn’t a failure in my process, it is the process. Switching from one medium to another (even between two that are pretty much the same) is where the story comes alive. There is no way to systemize this process and there is no point looking for a single tool I can do everything in.

Planning a story is a messy process, I guess, and I just have to make my peace with the piles of paper that litter my desk. They aren’t a sign of failure, but of a system that has evolved naturally over the years.