Writing is serious business
Writing is work, some try to deny it, but really when you get serious about your prose--you need to start organizing your workflow. Continuing to treat writing as a casual pastime will limit your writing to just that, a casual pastime. The need for organization is obvious, but sometimes overlooked by the writer just starting out.
The Struggling Writer
Fade in on the struggling writer, a hunched figure is seen with head buried in hands. An idea for a short story has burst to life in the writer's mind: the story of a boy and his toenail collection. The idea slips in and out of the folds of the writer's brain. Attempting to capture the story, the writer begins typing.
The story begins well enough. The boy introduced and his propensity for collecting toenails revealed. An evil plot hatched to steal the collection. The writer continues to create the scene but soon loses direction, eventually a mental clot forms in the writer's mind. The boy and the fate of his toenail collection hang in limbo. No worries, the writer thinks, and Toenail Boy is saved and filed for a later writing session.
A couple of days pass. The writer returns to his tale and finds the novelty has become a faint specter of its former self; instead, an insipid collection of writings bore the writer. No longer is the creative bit of the writer's mind entertained, and the writing becomes a struggle. How did this happen? the writer contemplates. The idea was fresh and exciting just a few days ago.
A Building With No Plans
How did the fun get sucked out of writing the story? How did the mental clot form? Will the boy's toenail collection ever get the recognition it deserves? Finding the answers to these questions starts with examining workflow.
Flex your imagination, for a moment, and pretend you are a carpenter and you plan to build a house. You sit down with the owners and begin to discuss their desires for the home. They tell you they want three bedrooms, two baths, a dinning room, a bowling ally, twelve car garage, etc. You commit the plans to memory, thank the owners for the meeting and head off to the local hardware store. At the store you wander the aisles grabbing the materials you think are right, in quantities you also believe correct. You haul the materials back to the construction site and set to work. When finished, you've created a completely different house than planned, and your clients are not amused.
Pure silliness, right? A good professional contractor wouldn't begin a project without intricate measurements, exact plans, proper materials, etc. So why would the writer?
Possibly you've never taken the time to plan out your story because you don't see writing as work. After all, writing is fun, a hobby, not something labored over. Maybe you don't know where to start. Or could it be, you really don't need to plan--you work better by just letting the story take shape as you write.
All that I have suggested is theory, it is all logical to say: if you construct something,a building or a story, you should have a plan. But, what really matters is what gets you writing. Not writing because you feel the impulse to write, but writing because you must write.