It is one thing to know how to write. However, knowing how to write isn’t what gets you to complete your manuscript. The secret to completing your manuscript is adequate planning and preparation. Many writers have conjured great ideas and amazing plotlines, which is great, but here is the thing – they miss the preliminary stage and jump right at writing because they have a great story to tell.
It doesn’t always work that way.
A great novel or book isn’t created without a plan. Even the most seasoned authors never ignore this stage. Before writing even the first line of their book, they’ve gone through a series of planning, preparation, and brainstorming, and they know what to do per time. Knowing what to do doesn’t necessarily mean figuring out the whole story from start to finish. Instead, it’s just creating structures and systems that will help you see your book to completion successfully.
If you consider the time and stress it would save you in the long run, you’ll realise that preparation is necessary. If you’ve considered it a necessity, we’ve curated six things you need to do before putting your pen on paper.
- Organise your thoughts: Writing means there is an idea in your mind that you want to execute. The ideas could come in chunks as you write, but you need to know what you want to do first before you start writing. Nail down your ideas to a particular theme or subject matter, which will help you organise your thoughts and give a structural pattern to your ideas. Don’t let loose on everything that comes to your mind; have a central message or idea that funnels other ideas.
- Research: One thing you can never overdo is research. Research is the pillar of any beautifully written masterpiece. If the subject matter is what you are not acquainted with, gather information and materials on the subject. If it’s what you know, you still have to discover more; there is no end to knowledge. Whether fantasy or not, let your story be true, no matter how bizarre. Let it be believable even if it’s impossible, and thorough research is how to achieve this feat. If it’s a non-fiction story, there is no debate about the importance of research in this case. Research gives more depth and authenticity to your work. With enough information to feed on, the pedestal on which will be when you get around to the actual writing stage will help your ideas and words flow better, and you’ll easily produce a masterpiece. The earlier you start your research, the better it is for you. Before you start writing, it’s imperative you equip yourself with adequate knowledge so that you don’t get stuck or produce a shabby piece. The more time you’ll invest in research, the better the quality of your writing.
- Create an outline: Locating your destination becomes much easier when you have a map. The function of an outline is like that of a map; it helps you navigate your way when writing. When you are stuck in a rut, all you have to do is look at your outline to find your way back to your destination. So before you start writing, create an outline; creating an outline is a pre-writing process that helps you structure your ideas sequentially.
At the point of outlining, it becomes easy to spot any likely problems before you begin writing. If there is a chance that your plot is not sustainable or that your character might be in an impossible situation you can’t write them out of, it’s better to figure that out and fix it before delving into writing. When you spend time planning your plots, scenes, chapters, etc., you will reduce the number of times you will have to rewrite because of the logical flow of ideas, and you’ll write more quickly.
- Create a non-negotiable writing schedule: You require a high level of discipline to see a task to the end, and writing is no exception. Therefore, it’s important to create a non-negotiable timeline to achieve your writing goal. Whether once or twice a week, commit some hours to write. Creating a schedule helps you mentally prepare and holds you accountable for the progress of your work or otherwise. So, ensure you choose a time and pace that conveniently works for you. During your scheduled time, eliminate every form of distraction during the hours you are slated to write and ensure nothing interferes with your precious time.
- Create a convenient environment: When it comes to writing, you need the right ambience to get your creative juices flowing. There is no formula for this. Just choose a convenient spot around your house. You can call it your writing lair—a cool and comfortable space with all your writing tools (laptops, books, notepads, pens, etc.). Some authors have successfully gotten inspiration from busy environments. If that works for you, that’s fine! Locate your convenient spot. There is nothing worse than writing in an uncomfortable environment or place where people bother you; it’ll make you lose focus. So, take care of this before writing.
A great piece of writing doesn’t just involve coming up with great ideas but also shaping those ideas into meaningful text that is understandable. Of course, it takes time, effort, consistency, and patience to see a line add up to pages and eventually turn into a book. But, above all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.