Everyone has a different approach to writing.
Some outline and plot until their brains feel heavy and the story is nearly realized before they’ve written a single word of their manuscript.
Others have no idea what they’re writing and until their fingers land on the keyboard and they find their groove.
For every writer, there is a different journey and often, finding your way comes down to trial and error.
So, here are my suggestions for you, LitStackers, based on years of sorting out what leads me from idea to page. Let us know what your process is in the comments below.
1. Devise a plotting plan. Use storyboards (I rely heavily on Pinterest) to get your ideas and even aesthetics visualized. This is what I do before I write a single word because “seeing” the world I’m trying to create, or at least a slight version of it, inspires me. If you are a visual writer like I am, storyboarding is an amazing tool. Here are just a couple of examples of some of your favorite authors’ boards.
2. Construct a story bible. This is a simple Excel worksheet I use to organize my characters, locations, histories, and even individual character mannerisms. I don’t always use these, but I like to organize the details. It helps to ground me in the character’s world and remember details so that I have some idea of whom I’m writing about and where they are headed in my story. This is especially helpful when you’re drafting details and plans for a series. Consistency is Queen when you’re writing a series, folks.
3. Outline. I know, I know, this isn’t for everyone. I know many of you are pantsers and there is nothing wrong with that. However, for me, I need a blueprint to help me move forward with my story. This might be something as complex as a scene-by-scene synopsis of major details in the book, or as simple as a fill-in-the-blank synopsis that gives me, at the very least, the skeleton draft of the story blurb. At any rate, I’ve discovered the more I draft notes about my plot and characters, the easier the ideas come to me.
4. Establish goals for each scene. This helps me keep my pacing going and avoids stagnant scenes.
5. Set writing goals. You would be so surprised how gratifying it is to set a daily/weekly word count goal and then stick to it. These are small challenges I give myself to help keep me interested in the story I’m writing and prevents me from missing my deadlines. Want even more motivation? Reward yourself when you hit your goals. My spoil of choice is a massage, or an extra-large glass of wine.
6. Read. It’s very simple, folks. If you want to be a great writer, you must be a voracious reader. It will give you the skills you need to improve. And, I’ve found when I get stuck and my brain just won’t turn back on, that reading a good book kickstarts my creativity again.
7. Allow yourself to fail. You’re not always going to hit every goal or follow each rule perfectly. That’s okay. You don’t have to. Allowing yourself to fail means that you are trying. You only truly fail when you do nothing.