Image Credit: Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
There’s plenty of prep work going on I suspect by the time this post goes out. I hope your Christmas preparations are going well. (I’m in the middle of mine with my food shop due next week and baking still to be done but I’ll get there).
Writing Prep Work
Prep work is a major feature for my writing life too. I prepare these posts in advance and schedule them. I love scheduling. It helps a lot. I also use it on Twitter.
Where I can write up draft posts that can slot in at any time, I do. These help enormously when I’m busy or away knowing I have something “good to go” already.
I blog for a couple of other places too so, as with CFT, I am always thinking about when my posts are due and working well ahead of that deadline.
My Writing Timetable
I look at my writing over the course of a week and my rough timetable is:-
Sunday – create a flash fiction story for Friday Flash Fiction and submit it. Create a flash story for my YouTube channel and schedule it to appear on the Monday. Work on longer projects I have on the go.
Monday – Finish off my CFT post for the week and schedule it for the Friday. If I have already done this (as is often the case when I have a two or three part series already scheduled), I will start drafting another post.
Tuesday – I write a twice weekly round up of my blog posts and article links for my website and share Part 1 of that today, the other appearing on Friday.
Wednesday – Work on blog posts where I post monthly – this includes Authors Electric, More than Writers, and Mom’s Favorite Reads.
Thursday – Final check on my CFT post for the week (I do sometimes pick up on typos etc at this late point) and finish any drafting I need to get done. If there isn’t any, I will write up flash tales for my next collection.
Friday – A lot of social media work in sharing my CFT post, my new website post, and I may well work on my next author newsletter, which I send out on the first of each month.
Saturday – Working on my longer projects (which I will then continue on into Sunday too).
I also post on Facebook daily.
Characters – Thinking About Them
So I have to think ahead about what I am doing when writing wise and I have found this helps me get more done. It also helps me not to miss a deadline. The stories I draft in “spare” time I keep for a collection or submit to suitable competitions. When I can, I try to have a stock of stories ready for this.
For story writing, I like to know my character before I write their tale up. I need to know their major traits and what can come from those so I use a rough template to help me work this out. Other writers need to know a physical description (and some use pictures from magazines to help them visualize their people).
I find if I know the major traits, I then get a rough idea of what my character looks like but in my tales that aspect is never the most important thing about them. It is what they do and their attitudes which matter most to me.
As well as traits, I need to figure out what my story mood will be, and I look at character names too. Names are important. They can show (a) species (this one is relevant for me, I don’t always write about humans!), (b) age, (c) social status, (d) gender and (e) likely economic status. The latter can be subjective.
Not every Bert is down on his luck say but if I wrote a story about Bert being down on his luck, it wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. As long as I portrayed Bert well enough, you would be able to visualise someone called that hitting hard times. It would be, for me at least, harder to visualise a Rupert being down on his luck.
Names can often act as shorthand then and for my flash tales that is useful in saving on my word count.
It takes time then for me to set the scene for my next blog post and story but I’ve found the time taken helps later on. Why? Because I’ve planned things, I find the editing stage is smoother and, while I’ve never timed it to be sure, I suspect that is where I do save time overall. All thanks to carrying out sensible prep work.
Working Out What You Need to Know in Advance
Every writer has to figure out what it is they need to know. I can understand detailed outlines (especially for novel writers). I can also understand why some like to know the beginning, the end, and maybe a kind of “staging post” in the middle of the book but without mapping out every single thing. This kind of prep work gives you enough to get started but you still have the joy of improvisation as you fill in the gaps. Having an ending in sight should help you not to go off on too much of a tangent as well.
I don’t “wing it” then. For my Facebook posts where I talk about aspects of writing, as well as share my news, I focus on things I know will interest other writers – such as tips I’ve found useful. A lot of these tips can be applied no matter what kind of writing you do.
I know in advance then I will be talking about these things. I don’t decide in advance exactly which aspect to write about because things come up in the writing world where I might need to keep my options open.
For example if there is news of a publishing scam doing the rounds, I will flag up what I know and share some of my experience of almost being caught out by the sharks. That would mean my post is both timely because of something in the news and useful. I of course can’t know what will come up in advance here. I only need to know broadly what I am likely to share.
I emphasise the sharing. Yes, I share my publication news but I also share when I don’t hear back or if something hadn’t worked out as I hoped. I still haven’t managed to make it on to The Bridport Prize long list, which is a long held dream, and I do discuss things like that.
Why? Because I know I was reassured when I was starting out to discover every writer has their ups and downs and it helps to know this is normal!
One area I will often talk about is how helpful thinking about your writing in advance can be.
It is up to the individual writer how much to prep in advance but just doing something means you will hit the keyboard “running” when it is time for you to write because you have already done some of the plotting and planning in your head already.
If your writing time is not as much as you would like it to be, as is the case for most of us, that is invaluable. It will help you make the most of the time you do have (and whatever our interests in life, that is always a good aim).
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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