Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Didn't Plan This Post: Why A Plan Can Make A Difference

I didn't think that much about this post at first. When the title came to me it was after a few minutes of sitting here, realizing that I really didn't have a plan for this week's post. I had this vague notion that I wanted to write something here before the work week was over, but I really didn't have a specific idea I wanted to develop into an article. Then I realized that the subject of planning itself - especially in the context of writing - was a worthy subject. It's one that I do address from time to time, but I will admit that I'm not the best planner.

You see, I'm not a planner by nature at all. I struggle daily with the concepts of planning, scheduling, and setting goals. What articles I write about it only serve to heighten my awareness of this need to have a plan. Clearly, I am not alone in this. You know very well what it's like, those of you who also don't find that planning is a natural tendency. You struggle with meshing your chaotic thoughts into coherent sentences just as much as I do.

The Plan Itself

Plans are a tool of structure and order. They also have the added bonus of helping you get things done more efficiently and with fewer problems in the long-run. For the writer, the plan can sometimes get mixed up with certain attitudes about outlining, but I'm sure most of you long ago read in one of those many writer's guides that we don't necessary need to follow some stringent outline structure like we used when we were high school. I wouldn't dare suggest that for any of you. I certainly have not desire to codify my thoughts about how a piece of writing is put together using letters, Roman numerals, and the like. 

Plans are pretty flexible things when you think about it. They can be conceived in an endless variety forms and are used to accomplish all manner of things in our lives - every single day. When a plan is conceived and brought to fruition you have to smile at the pleasure the one who pulled it off must be feeling. 

Think about it this way. Say if you're working on a book and you spend some time at the beginning to jot down some notes about what you want to happen; it doesn't have to be static. You're merely giving yourself some rough guides going forward. Now, picture the finish line folks. You've used that plan to finish your story in a more sensible manner. You no longer have to wait for so-call inspiration to cast you headlong into a story with no sense of the purpose or the goal of the narrative. That little plan is your insider's guide. You know where it's all headed. 

As For Me

The point where the rubber meets to road for me is actually learning what is involved in conceiving a good plan. Depending on the subject or project you have before you, the plan may be rather small - a few points jotted down on paper to tell you what needs to be done in order complete the task. That is really enough sometimes. Now, the more complex your gig is, the more you'll have to think about it. Nobody wants to get bogged down in ill-conceived ideas. (I know I don't.)

That sort of cinches it for me, really. I need a plan going forward. In fact, there is a need for more than one plan. I have lots of things going on at once so I need a cohesive strategy to make it all fit.

In the end, all I have to say is, "I love when a plan comes together."

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