Tuesday, April 12, 2016

3 Tips From an Information Hoarder by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
I think I’m a hoarder. Not of “stuff” but of information. Can you relate?

I’m an information junkie, especially about writing, research, or marketing.

Between e-newsletters, blogs, websites, webinars, books, and conferences, I’m drowning in information that I don’t have time to read or absorb, much less implement. I have too many saved emails, too many tabs open on my browser, shelves full of books, print-outs and clippings of articles.

I see or hear of a resource about effective social media, launching a book, or writing great query letters, and I save it with every intention of reviewing the information “later”—at the end of the day, after taxes are done, or when my current WIP is finished. And it becomes one more item on my “list” of things to do that I never get to.
3 Tips from an Information Hoarder

Now any normal person would not write this post without having conquered this disorder. But we writers are not “normal,” are we? Instead, at the risk of adding to your collection, I’m going to give three suggestions. One of these I am already doing and plan to continue, but the other two are new commitments.

If you have the same problem, we can resolve together to try these ideas. If you’ve already found a solution, please share your tips in the comments!

Here is how I plan to improve this situation:

  1. Share the most important information I find with my writing/accountability partner. (Shout-out to Angie Arndt!) We meet on Skype once a week, and we are working through The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. We also share tips from other resources we come across. This way, we learn from each other and know which resources are worth our time to review for ourselves.
  2. Actually create a Writing Improvement Notebook, as Jim Bell recommends in Chapter 12 of The Art of War for Writers. Angie and I have talked about this, but now I am going to actually do it. (There, I’ve made a public commitment, so I’d better get busy.)
  3. Take a 15-minute break in the middle of my writing day (lunch time is good) to read one saved blog or article. Pick one actionable suggestion and add it to my To Do list. If the item I read is worth saving, move it to Evernote or add it to my notebook.
Do you think this will help? Let me know what works for you, and I’ll tell you in a few weeks how I’m doing at climbing out of my digital mountain of data.

About the Author
Thirsting for More
by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu began telling stories soon after she learned to talk. At age seven, she convinced neighborhood kids to perform a play she had written. She wrote her first book, “I Came from Venus,” in eighth grade, but studied journalism in college. After a career writing for newspapers, magazines, governments, and nonprofits, she returned to her first love—writing fiction—at the age of fifty-five. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the Mended Vessels series, released in April 2015. Books in the series are contemporary re-imaginings of the stories of biblical women, including Esther and the woman at the well. Marie retired after 15 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and she and her husband now divide their time between Florida and Iowa.

Thirsting for More
Northern transplant Victoria Russo moves to the charming southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, from cold Connecticut, hoping to renovate her career, her life, and an old house. Instead, she faces animosity, betrayal, and calamity. Will she repeat the pitfalls of her past mistakes, or find the freedom and restoration she seeks?


  1. Marie, you are singing my song!! I have files with information, tabs to tell me what each holds, but with so many websites, etc. offering the same or better thoughts, why am I keeping these files from years ago? Because ONE day I may need it!! Hasn't happened yet, since I save so much on my computer. But like a house that needs de cluttering, so do files of knowledge. Do I remember what I read? I sometimes do, but save it for the day I won't! "Write, write write" I tell myself. If I need help, I've got a dozen resources...and one is all I really need!

  2. Diane, I knew there were others like me! And the problem is being able to find the information when we need it (or remember that we have it), right? Thanks for sharing!

  3. man-o-man can i ever relate! i have a column on my "grande excel doc" for links to revisit, and a folder on my laptop for articles and posts, which i plan to print out someday (the elusive someday, right!) and keep in a binder!
    research? in piles, in folders, all over the place! eek!

    1. Marie Wells CoutuApril 13, 2016 at 6:42 AM

      Bless your heart, Robin! We are so much alike, but it sounds like you are more organized with your digital "piles" than I am. As for the physical folders, do you ever find you have more than one with the same title? I must have at lest 3 "Ideas" folders--with only a few items in each one! Let's commit together to making some order out of this chaos. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh,my! I'm also a horder! One thing I've done is to create Pinterest boards with various topics related to writing and publishing so that when I want to find information again, I can find it fairly quickly. The problem is taking the time to look at my boards in the first place!

    1. I'm a writing book hoarder, too!

      And ebooks? If there was a show for those who have far too many digital books for anyone to read, I would be the first guest.

      I like the Pinterest board idea, though. Cool!

    2. Marie Wells CoutuApril 13, 2016 at 6:44 AM

      Dawn, I love the idea o the Pinterest boards, too. Do you make them public or keep them private?

      And Angie, I'll compete with you on the ebook contest!


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