A Love Letter About the Benefits of Being Prepared, in Writing and in Life
Cue image of young boy dressed in khaki shorts and shirt with a kerchief tied around his neck. His hand is held next to his face in a three-finger salute.
Yeah, I know—are the boy scouts even a thing anymore? I don’t know. But whatever the current state of scout hood, their slogan lives on in our culture.
And I hate slogans like that.
Be prepared is kind of like the word discipline—it sends shivers up my spine. Because I’m a right-brained creative, all loosey-goosey and free and spirited and independent and all that. Being prepared is like absolving all sense of creativity, just like discipline.
Big time wrong.
I learned this the hard way with the first novel I wrote.
I got the idea and started writing. It was glorious, to this day one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. Once I sat down at my desk in the morning, I lost all track of time until my children arrived home from school and I’d be startled to see them.
And then I got to the end of the novel and realized it didn’t work. I’d gone done stray paths, off on tangents and into dark woods—none of which connected with each other. And it occurred to me that if I’d just taken time to get organized with some aspects of the novel ahead of time, that might not have happened.
So now I am a dedicated prepper.
But—I’m also still that same loosey-goosey right-brained writer who hates control or authority. So when I prep I do it in the most casual way possible and keep at it throughout the novel.
I mention all this because I happen to be teaching my system (hahahaha—I crack myself up, that sounds so grandiose) in a couple of places coming up. One is a quick half-hour interview on a telesummit and one is an actual three-day workshop. Okay, so I guess what I do is not that casual.
A bare bones outline: I talk about understanding setting, voice, style and theme, and the all-important character and plot. I am squeamish about getting too militant on rigid plot structures (there’s that freedom thing, you know—can’t box myself in), but I’m also fascinated with various theories of story. So I take the middle ground on that.
If you’re interested in either event, the information is below. And, of course, I’m always available for coaching on this topic and others related to writing.
In the meantime, are you prepared? For what happens in your next novel, or your life?
Love, light, and good writing,
P.S. Hit reply and tell me how you like to prep for things.
Things of Note
Here are my latest articles from Medium. (These are friend links, so you should be able to read them even if you’re not a paying customer.) If you read one and enjoy it, please do clap for it—clapping is one way that Medium’s algorithms work to pay me.
Stop Arguing for Your Limitations
And a couple of oldies:
The Collateral Benefits of Cultivating a Passion
Face the Daunting Page Like the Kick-Ass Writer You Are
Still working on this one. It gets rave reviews, but I still think it is slow—and I’m over a hundred pages in:
The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. I waited a long time to get this one from the library. So far, so good. Though the beginning is surprisingly slow for a book that has been hyped as the thriller of the year.
Okay, I lied. I gave up. The following book came in at the library and I started reading it and was hooked.
The Honey Bus, Meredith May. One of the reviews on Amazon called this book enchanting, and it is. It is a memoir with a ton of information about beekeeping in it as well.
Here’s my ko-fi, where you can buy me a cup of coffee or any kind of drink you’d like (so far it has been running toward wine). Thank you in advance for the treat!
The Writer’s Craft Telesummit—Free and online! This starts tomorrow! Kevin Johns, the host, has interviewed a whole slew of writers on various topics relating to craft. My day is May 29th, and I’m talking about why you should prep for the novel, whether you’re a plotter or a pantser.
The Story Writer’s Path—I’m teaching at the Sitka center on the Oregon coast this June. This is a beautiful location conducive to learning and writing, and it is incredibly inexpensive. We’ll go through all the things you need to do to prep to write a novel. You’ll leave ready to write—and that’s the only part of the process I can’t help you with! I’ve gotten two more sign-ups in the past week, but there’s still room for more if you’re interested. Click here for more info.
France 2019—Come to the south of France with me! Find all the details here. Limited space available and we’ve had another sign-up this week. I’d love to see you there!
And of course, don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. I post lots of interesting links and fun things related to writing.
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