Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear Writer: Writing Plans

"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with." 
~William Faulkner
I've been over this many times already. I've made plans about the books and stories I planned to write during a given period of time. None of those plans have panned out. Right now, I'm contemplating the formulation of another plan and also wondering if it is all for naught. (Yeah, just a bit of melodrama in my choice of words, I know.) But, I'm still going to make another plan. I recognize the importance of having some sort of plan even if it isn't a detailed one. It's something that many writers agree about at least in theory though often those plans never get past the first thoughts had about them.

I think one of the reasons I keep thinking in terms of plans is that I am also an indie publisher. Publishers have plans and schedules for publications that need to hit. Meeting deadlines is even more important when you're trying to build up an inventory of titles. Publishing imprints have regular monthly releases. This present a unique set of challenges for a writer who is trying supply the new books and stories to fill that list month after month.

I have not established any reliable schedule of writing to get that new material published, but I am well aware that it is exactly what I need to be hard at work doing. If I were able to make a realistic plan for writing new books and stories, I would be able to make measureable progress towards publishing goals too. I want the viablity of an imprint that is releasing titles regularly. The more titles that are up and available for purchase, the more likely I am to approach earnings that constitute a viable living.

If there is one thing I've learned as a freelancer it is that having multiple income streams is a far safer way than being totally reliant on a single income source. Relating this fact to writing plans it is clear that if I plan to produce a certain amount of stories over a given period of time I create the chance that those stories will sell in modest amounts, combining those smaller numbers to produce a decent amount of money each month.

Is this guaranteed money like working for a wage would be? No, not exactly. You are beholden to readers to buy those stories. I am not saying that traditional jobs are just more secure than freelancing and indie publishing are. They often are not anymore stable. Employers can hire one day and then fire or layoff the next. You can't count on an employer to always be there.

The bottom line is that nothing is ever certain. The same is true of any plan. Plans do not always go off without a hitch. More often, they fall apart when you get started making reevaluation and improvisation the norm. Does these facts mean that you should just skip a writing plan? No. I don't think so. It is always good to have a working blueprint of how you'd like things to go. Sure, life will get in the way of those carefully crafted plans, chew them up, and spit them out. But you can always draw up new ones and keep going. Better yet, have contingencies so you're prepared for failures. They will happen. If you can hit the ground running with a new plan, you minimize how your writing production is impacted.

Writing plans allow the writer a level of flexibility that they do not always afford themselves when lost in the white heat of creation. Some writer (this writer included) don't do any real planning when it comes to writing stories so any writing plan has to account for that and focus on general principles like how many stories to shoot for during a given timeframe.

So what is next for me, Dear Writer? Well, I think I need to make a new writing plan. Wish me luck. I wish you the same in all that you do.

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