Writing Structure for the new year – or anytime…

I wrote this for the Fellowship of Christian Writers newsletter – The Ready Writer. I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the topic with the new year almost upon us.

Fall – Time to Think Structure

As I write this article, it is late August and the leaves on some trees are foreshadowing the next season. This time of year brings thoughts of starting school, swinging into the beginning of the end of the year. This year has been a very busy one for me with family issues at the forefront and my writing has moved to a seriously far back burner. Maybe yours has too. But, I am looking forward to cooler temperatures and carving out more time for my writing.

In order to make that time more productive, there are things that I can do right now to begin planning for that.

First, I can begin thinking about how to carve out the time I need to write. Most mornings, I am headed out to work and that is not a good time for me to try to get my head into whatever story I am working on except, perhaps, for making a few notes on ideas I had overnight. My best time for writing seems to be either just before or an hour or two after dinner during the week. Early Saturday afternoons are good also. Sometimes, I write at really odd times. I wrote one short story sitting in the car while my wife went blueberry picking. Setting and keeping a regular daily time is what I am aiming for here. Setting a time, word or page count may come into the mix as well. Establishing a habit is what needs to happen for me.

You need to figure out what time works best for you. Every one of us is different. Regularity can be good in lots of different ways.

Second, I can think about where I write best. As I mentioned above, I wrote one story while sitting in the car. I have also found myself unusually productive sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by noisy people and loud music. I have noise reduction headphones I use that block out other sounds and allow me to just listen to the music I selected for my writing. Most often, though, I write at home. in a home office. I have also used a chair or tray in the family room to hold my laptop. For a short period of time, I used a board set up on my bed to hold the laptop while I sat in a chair. (This is how Francis Schaeffer wrote most of his books.) The actual location is not as important as how productive you are in that location. Right now my office is all cluttered up. I need to clear away some clutter and make it a more focused work space.

Try different spots. See what works best for you.

Third, I need to focus on what I am going to write. I have had two books swirling around in my head and, to some degree, written down in short story form along with a bunch of outlined notes. I wanted to expand them into full length books but kept getting stalled. I set those aside earlier this year to focus on writing short children’s stories for a magazine. I really set my sights on getting published in that magazine. Those of you in the FCW critique group got to read them. But, none of them were accepted. Then I saw a contest for a story about fairies and elves. My imagination jumped into high gear. I have been working on that story for several months and it is long past the deadline but…I still love the story. I have switched over to doing some serious outlining and want to integrate what I have learned from K.M. Weiland’s new book Structuring Your Novel. http://goo.gl/QymLLW I was knocked off my stool while reading her book about structure and really want to try it for this project.

What about you? Have you got some book in your head you’ve kept on the back burner for a long time. Got a fresh idea that just won’t let you go? Got some magazine articles you have been dying to write?

Let’s recap now…

  1. Take some time to get yourself organized. Figure a time (or times) that you can regularly devote to your writing. Jerry Bridges said that he wrote his wonderful book “Trusting God” in the “nooks and crannies” of a very busy life. Some people write only in short 15 minute bursts.

  1. Stake out a place to do your writing. Put your family on notice that when you are there you are working and they better be on fire before they interrupt you. (Just joking.) Try to find a place where you can be more or less alone and free from distractions.

  1. Determine what project you want to work on and see it through to the end. Persevere. Persist. Finish what you start.

Above all, pray. Pray for His guidance for inspiration as you set your goals and to honor your efforts to honor Him with your work.