Staring at a blank page is dreadful for a writer. The question, “What will I write?” is really not a problem. It’s the question “How do I start?” that matters.
Most of us often underestimate the planning of things because we’re obsessed with the goal. We have the clear picture of the end product but we don’t have a detailed plan on how to get there.
However, we also believe that planning is needed but to what extend do we believe that statement makes each of us different. Some would go for the general planning while others go for the much specific plan. In the end, we all believe that once the stage is set and everything is in place, we’re ready to go.
Let’s Start Organizing
So how does a writer organize his or her writing?
- RESEARCH. First things first: gather and organize the raw materials. Having all the research notes and reference materials at hand before starting saves a lot of time.
- OUTLINE. Next, sorting the materials into an outline will not only gives ideas but also provides an organization for us to fill in the details.
- DECIDE THE ORDER. Now that we have an outline, decide on what order are we going to cover the subject. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Chronological — the best bet for story telling: a beginning, a middle, an end.
- Synthesis — this is usually used in essays: from general to specific
- Spatial — this is usually used for descriptive writing: from left to right, top to bottom, exterior to interior, etc.
A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order. – Jean Luc Godard
However, flashbacks, reverse orders, and flash forwards have became common that others tempted to follow suit, too. But before doing that, be comfortable with the sequence first and try to check if they’ll work. Don’t forget that readers have to start somewhere, follow a path, and reach a clear ending.
Don’t worry about putting too much details. Be like a sculptor. Have the basic rough form first, and eventually chip off the things you don’t need until you come up with a work of art.
But before I end this, don’t forget to give proper credit where credit is due. So if you have sources that require permission or acknowledgment, list them down and keep them. Don’t discard your raw materials too soon. You’re going to return to consult these during the editing and revision processes. Dispense them only when you have the published work in your hands. Or better yet, keep them for future references.