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Are you a pantser or a planner?

When it comes to writing – actually, I’m the same with most things, truth be told – I do love to plan. There is nothing like a route map showing me “You Are Here” and detailing the route I should take to get to “The End”. I’m not anal about it, no siree. I am quite happy to meander from my carefully considered and documented path if it seems appropriate to do so. But to begin the journey without a map, compass and bar of chocolate (hey, I remember the survival tips from Duke of Ed at school, you know) seems like idiocy of the highest order.

Yet, I know many of you reading this will shrink back in horror at the thought of planning your novel. Zounds, there will be a number who don’t even know how their story will end. And while that sends me to my Dairy Milk bar, you won’t be able to work any other way.

Yet if you read some of the many ‘How To Write’ books out there you might be forgiven for thinking that only one way is right. That’s the trouble with writing ‘rules’ – they try to standardise an approach, to apply the logistics of engineering to an art.

I read more as many How To books as the next person and the more I read them, the less convinced I am that I should. It won’t stop me; I always look for the magic bullet that will help me sit on my ample backside and get on with it, but I do read them more now with one eyebrow raised.

To add my twopence worth to the debate, I have come up with a few rules of my own.

  1. On no account finish one project before starting another. It’s far better to write something fresh. After all, it’s going to be so much better than the last story idea, isn’t it?
  2. Never begin work on your WIP until you have checked your emails. And facebook. And twitter. And catch up on the TV using iPlayer. Get your priorities straight.
  3. Likewise, take lots of breaks. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of an exciting part of the story, coffee and tea don’t make themselves. And while you’re having that cuppa you might as well switch on the TV. There’s a great film on Channel 4.
  4. Ignore everyone who tells you the chores can wait and that your writing comes first. What kind of dedication is that? If you do the ironing, wash the dishes, dust, vacuum, and polish the brasses first, think how much better you’ll feel when you start writing?
  5. Always, but always send off your first draft as soon as you’re finished. You want those nice publishers to get it while it’s fresh, don’t you?
Well, these are my rules. Stick with them and you too can be as successful as me.
On the other hand,you could just apply your backside to the chair and get writing.
Where are you with writing rules?

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