At our first writers’ group meeting of 2020, we discussed our writing plans for this year.
Only two of our members had created comprehensive plans with timelines and deadlines. I admire those writers, because even though I have a list of what I’d like to write this year, I haven’t set any deadlines.
Have you created your writing plans? If you’re not a writer, have you created plans and deadlines for what you want to achieve this year?
Writing plans: where, when, and what will you write?
One writer made this excellent point: you can’t create goals with deadlines until you know where, when and what you’ll write.
Make these decisions first:
- Where will you write? If you don’t have a home office, consider creating a “writing box”. Any storage box will do. Keep notebooks, pens and reference books in your box, so that you can write while sitting on the living room sofa, or even in your car.
- When will you write? First thing in the morning, before work? Late at night? In your lunch hour? Schedule your writing time. We’ve looked at writing apps which will help you to write anywhere.
- What will you write? Make a list of what you’d like to write and publish this year.
Now let’s look at some strategies to help you to achieve your goals.
1. Break through inertia: warm up with pre-writing exercises
Do you find yourself sitting at your computer and staring at a blinking cursor in Scrivener or MS Word?
An author in our writing group swears by this tactic: “I retype the last five paragraphs I wrote. That gets me back into a writing mood.”
Many fiction authors create character journals: try writing a journal entry as one of your fictional characters.
Alternatively, you can use writing exercises.
2. Practice writing your scenes in “zero” drafts: build up each scene (fiction) or chapter (nonfiction)
A zero draft is similar to an artist’s sketch. You can sketch out a scene in your novel, or a chapter in nonfiction.
For example, you might decide that in the next scene in your cozy mystery, your sleuth questions a friend of the victim, who happens to be the police’s primary suspect.
Write your zero draft, which consists of:
- Notes on what needs to happen in the scene;
- A description of the state of mind of the viewpoint character in the scene: your sleuth might be determined to entrap the suspect;
- The dialogue.
To repeat, your zero draft is simply a sketch, so anything goes. Your sole aim is to get something on paper. Ignore word choice, dialogue tags, and description.
Once you’ve written a zero draft of a scene, expand on it, to flesh out the scene, before you write a zero draft of the next scene.
3. Join a writers’ group: get an accountability buddy
Writing is lonely and people who aren’t writers don’t understand how writing works. Look for a small writers’ group in your city, or online.
Once you’ve joined a group, get an accountability buddy. Decide on how often you’ll chat on the phone or exchange emails to talk about the progress you’ve each made. Once a week is good. It’s helpful to find a buddy who writes in a similar genre to yours.
After you’ve created your writing plans, review them regularly
Plans tend to fall apart quickly. We get busy, or there’s an emergency, so we forget about our plans.
Schedule a weekly review of your plan. Try using a bullet journal. BuJos help, whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction.
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