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Book Club - New Order

New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)
Fay Wolf

After reading Julie Morgenstern’s “Organizing from the Inside Out” last quarter, several members of the NAPO-NY Book Club requested a book with a more “laid-back” approach to organizing. That’s certainly what we got with our book for April, Fay Wolf’s “New Order!” Most members loved Wolf’s playful, straightforward, and even dumbed-down approach to organizing that inspires the reader to just get started. One member commented that the book was exactly what she would write if she were going to write a book. However, another reader found the author’s tone and language smart-alecky and off-putting, and thought the use of profanity was inappropriate in a self-help book. Clearly, “New Order” is not for everyone, but it could definitely appeal to readers who have trouble relating to more traditional organizing books.

We had the exciting opportunity to chat with Wolf over Skype at our book club meeting, thanks to member Isabelle Dervaux’s willingness to reach out to the author online. A great reminder that you never know what you can get until you ask! Wolf was extremely gracious, down-to-earth, and happy to talk with other organizers!

The first thing we wanted to know was how Wolf had come to write the book in the first place. It was an organic process: a publisher first contacted her after seeing some organizing videos she’d done for Apartment Therapy. (The Apartment Therapy gig came about serendipitously: Wolf was recruited by a woman that she’d worked with on a music video shoot!) Around the same time that the publisher reached out, Wolf had presented a workshop on organizing for creative types, in which she combined talking about conquering your inner clutter (emotional/pyschological) alongside your physical clutter, and how this can help you to follow your passion - whatever it is that you want to do. With this concept in mind, Wolf worked on a book proposal from 2012 to 2014, but didn’t have enough momentum to complete it until a second publisher contacted her. Ultimately, neither of the publishers ended up being the one she went with, but their encouragement helped the process along.

We were also curious to learn how Wolf organized her thoughts while writing the book. She pointed out that a book proposal requires a detailed outline and at least one or two sample chapters, so by the time she sat down to write the book, she already had the basic structure in place. She used the app Evernote to organize her work while she was writing the book - creating a stack within the app for the book, and a notebook for each chapter. She also kept supplementary information in Evernote, such as lists of stores she could speak at and people she could ask to tweet about the book after it was published.

As small business owners, we asked how Wolf kept her income flowing while she wrote the book. She shared her strategy: she split the days of the week between writing and working with clients (at the time, she had several long-term clients, so she didn’t need to spend time searching for clients while she was writing).

Wolf also shared her tips for finding clients - as many NAPO-NYers have found, word of mouth is usually the most effective method! She mentioned that when she was starting out, she was lucky to have friends who worked on TV shows and were able to spread the word of her business to their coworkers. She also recommends taking on speaking engagements as much as possible.