I don’t think small.
In many, many ways the fact that I cannot think in small terms is one of my biggest faults as a writer; I find it impossible to write a short story that doesn’t develop into a novel because I just do not know how to stop myself.
However, as a person it is something that I do take a great deal of pride in. I’m not someone who follows the ideas of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to the letter, and you’re not supposed to, it is a guideline, and each personality type themselves has a broad spectrum of differences within it.
For years though I thought that because I couldn’t think on small terms, it was a character fault because my brain would literally run away from the small idea that I really needed to think about and onto something vastly bigger than it was meant to be. On getting to know my MBTI type, which is INTJ, being a visual master planner is what my personality type is all about. I don’t think small, I have a complex imagination that can draw up master plans and implement them, down to the smallest detail.
For years I have been setting myself the same resolution at the beginning of each year. Draw up a grand plan for the books you intend to write.
And I sort of did – I drew up a list of books I planned on writing, a short summary, and there I had it a ‘grand plan’.
Cue Rocket the Racoon and his belly laugh.
I didn’t have a plan; I kidded myself into thinking I had a plan and then just got on with writing, which is what I wanted to be doing.
And this is how I have ended up in the mess that I’m in now, because I didn’t follow what is actually my greatest strength – I had a bit of a plan, but because for years outlining a story felt like I was killing creativity that seat of my plans writing could bring to me I resisted.
So admittedly, all I have done so far is make a list of books I want to write, but I’m not stopping there. Since I’ve been writing this blog series, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking and I’m going to use that thinking to write a plan first, and then re-write the book.
I’m not entirely sure how it’s actually taken me this long to come to this conclusion. Drawing up the plan first, properly detailed plans is how Terry Brook’s, an author I admire a great deal, describes how he plans his novels in ‘Sometime’s the Magic Works’. He’s successful, and like me he writes high fantasy series that spans centuries in the same story world.
Honestly how I’ve managed to ignore his advice for all these years is beyond me – but then again a lot of people share Stephen King’s advice of write at least X number of pages every single day, so maybe it wasn’t as difficult as you would imagine, and the guilt that comes from not doing that occasionally hits me, but not as often any more.
So, write a grand plan, or a plan, or at least have more than a vague idea of how you are going to get from the beginning of your story to the end, and I recommend the ‘But…Therefore’ method of plotting.
Now brain focus…