Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Four Good Reasons You Should Plan A Book Before You Write It

Today, I just wanted to look at a few good reasons why it is better to plan your next book rather than blindly taking a plunge and plunking down text on the page. In this case, I will offer five good reasons. At this time, I'm focusing this post on their relevance to writing a non-fiction book rather than the novel. I'm sure some of them would apply in some sense, but right now I find myself writing a piece of non-fiction so it is easier to write about non-fiction.

The issue we are addressing right now is really one of good project management. For most things, it really does make more sense to start planning out what you want to say before you ever write a single word. Think about? Most of those writing resources you've read or that are currently taking up space on  your bookshelf will mention something about the benefits of having a plan whether it is taking notes, writing a synopsis, or outlining. These are obviously important elements. Still, you may be one of those writers that ignores this little piece of advice and you tackle that book without a clear picture. I want to give you some really good reasons not to skip the plan.

Four Reasons

1. A plan helps you find a focus for the book. If you have started writing a non-fiction book with no thought for the contents, you may end up rambling along without a clear objective for the text. While you may have had a central reason for writing in the first place, this may be obscured by side issues. You could end up writing on tangents that change the real scope of your book to something you didn't expect. You may even repeat yourself from different perspectives. Why muddle the content? If you have a focus that is organized as part of your overall writing plan then you can avoid these difficulties.

2. Keep your options limited. What does this mean? Well, you should be aware that there are many options to choose from when writing a non-fiction book. It is your goal to find a structure that will work for you and eliminate all of those that are not appropriate for the information or subject matter you're trying to convey. This point might also include practical issues of design, page count, and distribution choices (especially if you're a self-publisher). If you don't narrow these considerations, the task of writing a book can become overwhelming.

3. Make sure you have a market. If you stop to take in all of the considerations about potential markets before you've starting writing, you can save yourself from producing a book that no one wants to read. This is particularly true in the realm of non-fiction where some topics have been so thoroughly covered that the market is saturated. Additionally, if you know you have a market before you write, then you will be able to produce a book that best fits the current needs of that market.

4. Consider the alternatives to your book. What do I mean by alternatives? When it comes to non-fiction there is room to think about peripheral benefits. If you do research and take the time, effort, even money to making this book happen, then you should consider how you can get the most out of this expense as you can. Simply put, planning up front allows you to identify markets for future books so you can start planning for the next project. You may be able to write on the subject in magazines or create a course which can help promote your expertise in your topic of choice. Think about how you can use the information and planning you've done to your advantage.

In Closing...

I'll admit that these are just a few reasons. If you commit to planning before you write, you should be able find other reasons based on your own experiences or choices of topic. I wish you luck on your writing endeavors. If you have any other reasons, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you. Keep writing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you that blog was helpful. I am a writer and have experienced the overwhelming feeling of being in the middle of a project that wasn't well thought out before hand. You know passion can be a great motivator but it can end you in a web of meaningless gibberish.

Another thing I have seen in my own writing projects is planning keeps you from writing books that will bore me. Some times brainstorming makes things that aren't actually appealing seam appealing. But when I begin to put a structure, like a chapter break down, I realize that writing the book will be like watching paint dry. If I am bored writing it then who would want to read it, right?

So I can save myself time and frustration by planning ahead.