If there is one thing that writing, school, jobs, exercising, really anything has taught me, it is that you have to have a plan. I have started and eventually abandoned so many endeavours because I did not plan it out. I used to be under the mentality that, if I tried hard enough, I could just wing everything. I thought I was just a natural, and all of those people who had to plan things out were doing it because they didn't have the same knack as me.
Lesson learned: I was wrong.
If I didn't plan what I was going to do ahead of time, I would sometimes finish it but most of the time would not. When I did finish what project or initiative it was, it would not be as good as it could be. It was good enough to get by, but it wasn't my best. I'm looking at you, university essays. It was only when I started listening to tried and tested wisdom that I realized just how powerful planning can be.
Setting out a plan has multiple benefits. It keeps you accountable, for starters. You know what you have to do. It is – quite literally – staring at you. It is in ink, which is much more tangible than your excuse. Having a plan can also be a great motivator. With a plan you can see the end goal, you can even see all of the steps along the way. If it had a hand, it would hold yours throughout the entire process. Your plan will even keep you warm on winter nights (this is a joke, do not burn your plan to stay warm).
Every morning when I get to work I sit down with my notepad and plan out my day. I think about what needs to get done, what I would like to get done, and when the best time to do it is. I have a lot more energy in the morning, so I put the most important stuff first. I tend to hit a wall, or many walls, the closer it gets to the end of the day, so I put the less intensive items there.
When I write I make a plan, too. Whether it be a story or a novel, I plan from beginning to end. Each chapter will get its own part of the plan. I have a separate plan for characters, events, and special notes that I might forget. If I am ever stuck while writing, I can always refer to the plan to see where I want to go and how I get there.
The important thing to keep in mind with plans it that they have to have some degree of flexibility. Yes, I schedule the work day out in advance, but if my manager asks to do something, or if I get an unplanned phone call, or if something pops up (something always pops up), then I adjust the plan accordingly. Likewise, if I am writing and the story organically grows in a direction I was not expecting, I revisit the plan and tweak it, or overhaul it, so that it has improved.
The fact is, plans are important. So here is a plan for my website going forward:
Monday & Wednesday: A blog post. The topic varies.
Friday: Fridays will alternate. Every other Friday, starting this week, I will be posting an interview segment titled The Coffeehouse. Alternate Fridays will be for posting short stories.
The Coffeehouse is a new initiative where I reach out to an author and interview them about their work, life, and everything else. There will be a mix of genres, writing styles, and publicity levels. Stay tuned for JK Rowling, I just need to find the right spell to make that happen.
So here it is! Something to keep me accountable and on track. Sounds like a plan to me.