Planning to write or writing to plan

Planning your writing makes you a better writer

We can all think, learn and communicate with all parts of our brains, but guess what? We have preferences and we tend to do what comes naturally and easily.

Why wouldn’t we?

Isn’t life about easy?

It may be, but, yes there is a but, what about all the time we are wasting if we don’t plan upfront?

So what has this got to do with writing?

Planning to write

Last year when I was struggling to finish a book –  my plan was to write a book on how to plan and write a book in a month.  I set my deadline, told people that this was my plan and asked them to leave me alone.

I had roughly mapped out the book, it was a map, not an outline, I was in a hurry and just wanted to write.  Would I ask my clients to work in this way?  No, I would advise that good planning equals good results and makes it easier to write later on.

Learning comes through experience.  Past experience tells me that good planning always gives me good results, this latest experience repeats this advice.

Pondering on why I chose to ignore my very good advice, I can only very humbly say in my defence that I am a pratt and next time I will do as I am told – by me.

It was however a great learning experience, 60,000 words into my book and a massive headache, my partner asked a simple question ‘scope creep?’.  I hate it when men ask you such simple questions, which hold incredible meaning and you know they are laughing at you…  Aren’t they?

He was right, I had over written, which in itself is ok and it meant I had content for other purposes, but the fact was that without my plan, I had essentially wasted a lot of time. Back in my office I ripped out many chapters that had nothing to do with what I wanted to convey, at least in this book.

Sitting staring at the document map in WORD, I realised that I needed a plan.

 My steps to creating a writing plan

  1. Begin with the end in mind (Stephen Covey – Habit 2
  2. Create a well formed outcome.
  3. Start brainstorming (in whatever way suits you).
  4. Create a road map (logical or by association).
  5. From the road map – dig deeper and create a top level outline.
  6. Ask – what questions need answering?
  7. Drill down and create subheadings.
  8. Add in keywords for each section.
  9. Determine key messages.
  10. What are your call to actions?
  11. Determine what content you already have and what needs to be researched.
  12. What other resources do you need?
  13. How many words can you write a day?
  14. When will you start?
  15. When will you complete the first draft?


Overall book map example









Chapter structure example

week 1 chapter call to action v2









Staying focused

At every stage of planning and structuring, update your book and chapter maps.  Print these out and put them up somewhere to keep you focused on what you are writing about overall and for each chapter.

With the overall book mapped out and each chapter planned, my writing magically became easier.

In future my advice to me is, planning to write and then writing to plan.

What path will you follow?

Do you want to write a book?

I work with people just like you, who may be struggling to find the ONE big idea for their first or next book. Call me (07862 260095 / Skype: jacquim916), everyone gets 30 minutes free to chat through ideas and to consider what is the next best step to starting your journey towards becoming a published author.


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