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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crash Writing Fads Part II - a guest post by Lauren Orbison

So when we last left off, we discussed that many aspiring writers have no plan. In today’s post, I’ll be going into detail more about what a plan is and how to develop one.
What a plan is:
1. a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance: battle plans.
2. a design or scheme of arrangement: an elaborate plan for seating guests.
3. a specific project or definite purpose: plans for the future.
4. Also called plan view. a drawing made to scale to represent the top view or a horizontal section of a structure or a machine, as a floor layout of a building.
5. a representation of a thing drawn on a plane, as a map or diagram: a plan of the dock area.

Let’s take a special look at definition number 2. A design or scheme of arrangement.
How to put that in writing terms?
  1. Outline.
I know, outline is a dirty word among many writers.  It has a bad reputation and it shouldn’t. Terry Brooks, in his book, Sometimes the Magic Works referred to an outline as a road map. You can still get off at different points and explore. But you wouldn’t go on a long journey without your GPS or a map of some sort, would you? A novel is a long journey. You shouldn’t go on one without a plan. Otherwise you may end up with 60,000 words that will never work or sell and you just wasted a whole lot of time.
Everybody has a different process. There’s no right way to outline. And you don’t have to stick to them like glue. But when you begin writing you should at the very least have some basic details planned. Even Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month, in his book No Plot, No Problem!  allows for 7 days the week before beginning the novel for would-be novelists to plan their book.
  1. Write the book. 
This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually get this. Writers write. Aspiring writers frequently moan and complain about ‘writers block’ or their characters aren’t being nice to them that day and spend half the time on Twitter and other social media outlets instead of actually putting any words on paper. It doesn’t matter how much or little you write, but you must write.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me, “I’ve had several ideas for books but I just can’t find the time to write them.” 
That’s a bunch of nonsense.
If you really want something enough, you will find the time. You will make the time for whatever your passion is. If you don’t make time for writing, then writing isn’t really your passion and you should find something else to do.
Is that harsh? Maybe. But it’s still the truth. We make time for other things. We can make time for writing. Even if it’s just stealing time here and there a few minutes daily writing on your cell phone while you’re out and about. That’s writing.
When my migraines got really bad and I couldn’t write on the computer at all, I would write in bed at night on my phone using an app called AK Notepad. It looked like a post-it note. And I actually found I really liked that way of writing. It did not have an editing feature so I couldn’t edit my work. It was pure, unadulterated output.  I don’t think this app is available anymore, but I’m sure there are other similar ones.

I not only wrote that way, I outlined that way. For months. And you know when I e-mailed myself my notes, I found I had several chapters outlined and several pages. You’d be surprised how many words you can get in just by using your phone and stealing time.
  1. Revision. A lot of writers dread revision. I don’t. Because I outline first. I outline chapter by chapter and bullet point details but sometimes even then things don’t work out and I have to nix whole sections. If you’re going to sell your work, editing is critically important. You need more than family and friends to look over your work.
Unless of course, two of them have English degrees and one is an Engineer, and they can spot problems a mile away, while still in outlining phase. Paying a professional to critique your work is not a bad idea, but make sure that these people you’re paying are reputable. Ask for a list of their clients. If they balk or ask for everything up front, run away. Far away.  Be sure and check Writer Beware before hiring any editor.

Now that we’re done with the nitty gritty writing section of the planning. Let’s talk about business strategies. What do plans mean in terms of actually selling your work?  Stay tuned for Part III! 

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