So you have a novel you are writing or wanting to write. How’s it going? How far along are you? At what point did you say to yourself, “OMG, how the heck do I get this story out of my head and onto the page?”
For me, this usually happens around page ten of my manuscript. I often have a pretty clear idea on how the story starts and also how the story is going to end. It’s that large chunk, you know the middle, that stumps me every time. Well, I guess if I’m being honest, it is the 200 or so pages between those first ten and the last ten, so a bit more than the middle.
I am an organizer! I love calendars, planners, productivity tools, stationary in general. I’m that girl. So, naturally, when I have a problem like this I look to some sort of organization tool that can help. This is where printables have saved my writing life.
I have found that great printables have three magical powers to help me finish my work in progress.
1. They prompt you to think through big ideas in manageable chunks.
Have you ever been asked that question in a job interview, “As a manager, how would you handle a difficult employee?” And you start running through a thousand answers in your mind because “difficult” could mean any number of things. Are they showing up late to work? Do they have an attitude? Is it bigger than that, are they showing up to work intoxicated, or harassing other employees? The question is too broad to answer with clarity and we want to get clear when we are working on a writing project. So asking ourselves questions like, “what happens in this novel?” can yield such a variety of answers it doesn't help. Printables can narrow it right down for us. Typically, printables are designed with a very specific focus and ask prompting questions that get us thinking through those big ideas, like the entire plot, with focus. So, instead of asking “what’s the plot?” a great printable will ask something super specific like, “what happens to the protagonist that inspires them to take action?” This focus gives us writers the tools to fill in that blank space between page 10 and page 190.
2. They remove the fear of the blank page.
Blank page syndrome is real! Someone should put that on a mug or a t-shirt.
Blank page syndrome or writer’s block can be such a frustrating place to be. This is where printables have magical powers. Printables take the “blank” out of the blank page by having the prompts mentioned above. Why is this important? Because filling in the box and answering a question posed to us seems to be a natural thing for many of us who went through a traditional school system. We have been conditioned to see an empty box with a question above it and want to fill it in. Our brains look at a printable and say, “What? You want to know who my character turns to for help? Well, that must be her Aunt Harriet.” And bam, you have another piece of the puzzle solved. Aunt Harriet just went from being a passing mention to a character that actually matters, giving you something to write about on that blank page.
3. They keep things organized.
For my first novel, I have notebooks filled with short writings, character development, plot outlining, even information on the publishing process! It is chaos. Any time I wanted to find something that I had written about my protagonist, I had to scroll through each notebook until I found all my notes. And often I had some notes on the twentieth page of notebook one and more on the first page of notebook three, and even more, on a scrap piece of paper, I tossed into notebook five. I am surprised that book got written, to be honest, especially considering my need for things to be organized.
Printables can help contain all relevant information in one place and make it easy to organize your notes according to your needs. You can file them on your computer or in paper files or in binders by different areas of your process. For me, I like to keep character, plot and setting in their own sections of my writer’s binder and then I can add short writings I do to whatever section they fall under. So, when I get to the scene where the reader is first introduced to the creepy house on the hill, I look to see if I have already done some writing on this location that I can use, or if I have already taken the time to work out a detailed description that I can draw on to write the scene.
Hi, I'm Lia! I'm an author and the creator of Cozy Writer's Room. I believe in the power of storytelling and love helping others tell their stories using simple productivity tools like printables!