When plans go awry…

In real life, I’m a big planner. I love a plan. I don’t mind if life doesn’t go according to that plan, or if said plan goes, at some point, skewwhiff. So long as there is, in place, a plan of some sort.

Writing, on the other hand, is a whole different game. It wasn’t until I started thinking about my second novel that I even thought about story plans, chapter plans, plot plans. When I write I just crack on and, well, write.

So when my agent advised me to sort out a chapter plan for my first book, to help with the restructuring of the narrative, I started researching. Lots of my writer friends have different methods, from writing a ten-thousand-word skeletal draft to writing every idea on a separate piece of paper and rearranging said paper into a plot. Writer friends, you know who you are.

The way that worked for me, or that I at least thought had the best chance of working for me, was the post-it note plan.

It looks like this:


Every chapter is summarised on a post-it, leaving me free to rearrange the hell out of the plot. And I did. I really worked at it, super hard, with loads of enthusiasm. Then I formalised the plot with the most formal of formalisers; sellotape.

Then I put the plan on a shelf and… uh… well, I forgot all about it.

Haven’t looked at it once.

Not once.

And I’m well over half-way through the rewrite.

My initial response was that it had been a total waste of my time. Particularly as the current rewrite is only vaguely similar to the plan I had for it.

On reflection, however, I realised I was being a tad harsh to that poor board of sellotaped post-it notes. The act of writing the chapters down and visually rearranging them helped a great deal in my ability to rearrange them subconsciously (which is my preferred method of planning any writing that I do. I sit on an idea, meditate on an idea, generally day dream until I have it nailed.)

Hmmm. Rereading this blog post made me realise that I didn’t plan this out either. I may be waffling.

So as not to lose you all entirely I will sum up; life rarely goes to plan. Writing rarely goes to plan. But it doesn’t mean that having a plan, in some shape or form, isn’t well worth the effort of its creation.

Because those plans can always be rearranged.


4 thoughts on “When plans go awry…”

    1. You’re right, April, they are brilliant. I used yellow post-its for present day and pink for flash backs. Really helped me even out my narrative.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Loved the post!

    I am writing my first book and was told to do this too. The only reason I listened (albeit with an internal groan and childlike pout stomp “do I *have* to?) is because the person telling me to do it published four books in one year using this method. I lose the sticky notes though, so I put mine in Trello as Cards on Chapter Boards. I travel a lot for my corporate job, this way I can take my post it notes with me.


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