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The Plan

By Leigh Royals

The trash man just rolled by. I found this out as my loverly husband was saying, “Baby, you won’t believe it, but the trash just went by.”

Why is this so unbelievable? Because, I had arranged for the garbage to be taken, but anticipating a blown-away trash receptacle, I just brought the 90-gallon can back from the curb. I didn’t want to be chasing debris around my yard that made its way there due to the tropical force winds breezing through the coast of the Carolinas. We think the truck was going on its first pass and we scrambled to get the rest of the trash to the street. What is the point? Good planning. It is so important in any literary work, Heck! In life too! Good planning would have allowed me to stay home with my kids when their school closed without getting any grief from work. Good planning would keep my house clean. Good planning would simplify so many matters in life that chaos allows to muck up.

But with writing, not everyone can be a pantster. “What is a pantster?” I asked six months ago. It turns out, there are some truly talented people who can write and write and voila! They’ve written straight from page one to ‘The End’. I used to be like that, but now have less time to devote to writing than I used to. (Note to self, refresh on Time Management Workshop.) So for those of us who cannot accomplish that feat, good planning is necessary.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of scheme, er, method. You have to find what works best for you. For some, note cards are handy. One fellow Diva can write the beginning and the end, but not the middle and this system can be quite helpful for her. By note carding, she can brainstorm and write pages around her ideas. Sure, she may not keep all of it, but it is better to write trash than nothing. You never know when an idea is going to appear and if it is appropriate for the current WIP or a future one. You can always edit later. I started my WIP as a pantster, but when I got stuck, I took my little legal notepad and stole away to my private place. That’s the bathroom, but it isn’t really that private. Just like Gina’s niblets, mine park within the vicinity and wonder what I’m doing. Helloooo, I’m baking a cake. But seriously, I did a timeline, an outline, character description and notes about what to research. That was a lot!

Another way to coordinate writing by good planning is to write backwards. What? That’s crazy you say?! I say no! Write your happily ever after, then develop the goals, motivations, and conflicts that the hero and heroine underwent to get to that point. No one starts out HEA. How did they get there?

Keep post-it notes or a handy-dandy notebook to jot down thoughts that randomly pop in when doing your day job. That way, if the ideas are related to the WIP, you can develop them. If these bits of brilliance are irrelevant to the main course, save them anyway, you can use them later. That’s how I got four shorts in the works. I still have to remind myself not to get distracted by so many tasks at once. (For more on that refer back to ‘Perseverance vs. Procrastination’ written by Michelle Arroyo).

Aha! My curb is sans garbage. Next time, I’ll find out from the public works department with time to spare as to whether or not the pick-up schedule is to be interrupted or not. I plan to be better informed and prepared!