When I started my books, I had no idea of how I was going to present it and set it out. I just put information down and began to expand on facts. If only I had realised how much time I could have saved if I decided on planning a framework first. Much like a house, the foundation, walls and roof come first before all the detail inside.
A mind or word dump has its place and can be useful in getting the ideas on paper. However, it can also prove to be somewhat disorganised. Too many times I went back and forth wasting many hours because I had no real plan other than getting the words out of my head.
I want to help you avoid my mistakes. Do a little preparation first and save yourself a lot of time and frustration later when you wish to add to it or find something you wrote belongs in a different place.
Being organised in your writing will also help your thought process and keep it from being cluttered.
I found five things that should have gone into the planning of my book. I trust this makes it easier for you.
Separating your book into parts and chapters will help you decide where particular stories or information will go. You may want to split your life story into parts, for example, your childhood, young adulthood, mid-life and present. You can go back and forth as you recall your stories, or you can opt to stay focussed on one stage of your life at a time. You can then chunk down into Chapters to separate the stories. It’s a good idea to keep your chapters short as in one or three A4 pages.
Nothing helps the imagination paint a picture more than a photograph or image. Hopefully, your creative writing will build pictures in the mind of your reader, but where you can, add photographs or images. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if you are using your photos, this is a great way for your reader to apply meaning to it rather than thinking it’s just another old photo of relatives. Secondly, a photo can add more depth to your story as the reader doesn’t have to imagine what you are talking about; they can see it for themselves.
Have you noticed how many books have all the pictures in the middle? You don’t have to do that; you may want to include them in the chapter where a photo can add a visual picture for the reader. Having to go back and forth from the story to the middle can be distracting. You want to consider making things as easy as possible for your reader. Remember; if you are using someone else’s photo’s be sure to ask permission. If you are using pictures from Google, be sure to reference or ask permission. If you are found to use someone else’s work, it can be an expensive exercise.
If you are writing a book you no doubt want someone to read it. So you need to decide how you’d like to publish your book. Your budget and purpose will significantly influence which way you’ll go. You can have it as a PDF if you are thinking of keeping it online. You may want to have it as an E-Book where it is accessible to many. You can opt to get it bound, or presented as a book and only get the required amount printed (local printers can do this) or get it published by a publisher. However, you will need to order a minimum amount of books if you go down that road. There are many choices, and it’s up to you what you want to do. Remember, you can always go for a cheaper option first then get it published later.
I learnt about the value of maintaining a research log much later into my research and writing. When I saw how valuable it was, I kept using one every time I went online. Previously, I just went back and forth to different sites, and never recorded where I went and what information I got from it. The result, of course, made referencing a nightmare, because I had to spend many hours trying to find where I got what information from. There are plenty of free Research Log forms you can download and each time you visit a site make sure you write the date, what information you got and from where. It’s also a good idea when you find a great site to bookmark it for later.