Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Not planning to fail

When it comes to writing, planning has never been my forte. At least formal, write it down before you start planning hasn't. With my writing goals for this year, I'm really going to have to address that, as I'm sure that the chances of writing something even vaguely coherent without a proper plan are next to zero.

It's not that I don't have a plan, what tends to happen when I'm writing here is that I have a detailed plan with interesting little phrases and pieces of information all fully formed. Sadly it's always in my head and usually comes to me when I'm not really in a position to write. For example, the out line for this particular blog post occurred to me the night before last while I was getting ready for bed, more specifically while I was on the loo. I usually work on these plans for a little while, give them a little polish and then as soon as I am able, write it up. Usually a day or so later, by which time of course, my little plan has got all confused and I come up with something slightly garbled and a good deal less cohesive. What I really really need to do, is start making notes and commit the planning process to paper so that I can keep track of it later, when I can write.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail

At school one of my English teachers was fond of saying "If you fail to plan, plan to fail." We were encouraged to write plans for all of our essays, and even told that if we ran out of time in an exam, but had an essay plan, they might even give us credit for it. My essay plans tended to look like this:

Intro - current plan - school plan - why need to plan - conclusion

I very much doubt that anyone would have given me any kind of credit for that. It served its purpose in the sense that I knew what I wanted to write about in each paragraph, but I doubt anyone else could have gained anything from it. I continued in the same way at University and, to a greater or lesser degree, it worked. Of course, the reason for that, may have simply been that the real plan, the one in my head, was committed to paper, in the form of the essay, before I could loose track of it. I suspect that I used something a little more sophisticated for my dissertation, but I honestly can't remember.

From here on in, if I really am going to give this book writing lark a go, I will have to start planning. A story needs a structure and direction to get it from the start, through the various plot twists and turns to the end. I need to map out my route and try not to wander off too much into random tracks and lanes that lead away from my destination. It might take me some time to get to grips with that.

My plan is to start making myself plan even smaller things, like this blog. I'm not sure that it will make much difference with something small like this, and I may still ramble on for some time, but hopefully it will get me into the habit of planning. After all, I'm not planning to fail.