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Writing Quote: When to Plan

April 25, 2010

The author of today’s writing quote needs no introduction.  She wrote nearly a hundred books in her lifetime and has sold more books than any other author in contemporary times, with a large number of those featuring the famed literary detective Hercule Poirot.  I speak, of course, of Agatha Christie.  So now, I’ll turn it over to Agatha to reveal the secret of when to work on planning that novel you’re working on:

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.

~Agatha Christie

I find this to be an interesting quote, especially at a time when I’ve been bogged down with so much busy work, trying to finish up projects, work on final exams, and be supportive of my Dear Wife – all while doing the old day job thing.  It’s pretty busy.

And, as I’ve mentioned, I have several novel project ideas dancing around in the back of my head.  There’s that long-gestating novel, plus several other novel ideas ready to be planted.  I’d really like to start fleshing one of those other ideas out into something that looks more like a book.  But when will I ever have time for that?

Well… whenever!  If I’m busy doing something else that is occupying my hands but not my mind, that’s the time to engage my mind on coming up with interesting characters, fantastic worlds, and engaging plots.

Ideally, to get writing done, you need to follow the BICHOK rule: “Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard”.  In other words, you need to spend some time in a place where you can write.  But we don’t always have that luxury.  That’s when Agatha’s advice comes into play.

Happy Writing.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 11:56 am

    I have often said “If I could only have the time, I would write that novel that’s been on my mind for so long… A cabin somewhere in Vermont… A hut on a deserted island… Somewhere nice and quiet”.
    Truth is: I’ve been to place like that and I realised it didn’t work for me (maybe it will in the future). Writing comes to you when it feels like it, not when you decide (and thus have the time). Just keep a notebook at hand for those random moments. At some point, the novel will put your butt on the chair and your hands on the keyboard. It will become an urge, a living thing. Then you will be surprised by how much time you will find to write 😉

    all the best,
    diana
    http://www.laughingdaffodil.com

    • April 26, 2010 8:56 am

      I actually did spend some time at a cabin in the mountains over the New Year’s holiday this year, and spent some of that time writing. But no, I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be. In the meantime, however, whatever urges I have to write, I’m mostly spending it here on the blog. It’s an exercise in consistency, and I’ve just go so many obligations right now that writing has to to take second place just because those things are so important (family, school, job, church, in roughly that order right now).

      I do, in fact, keep a notebook for when I get inspired with some great idea or other, and have to write it down. I’ve been writing in it roughly once every other week, usually with ideas relating to my long in-progress novel, but with a few thoughts for a couple new novel ideas. I’m hoping to switch gears, mentally, and start putting some effort into the other novel ideas. I’ve almost decided that work on these other ideas will improve my writing skills enough that I’ll actually be capable of tackling the story in the older novel idea.

  2. Lua permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:59 am

    I think this should be every writer’s motto: ““Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard” 🙂
    I’ve been reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography lately and I’m absolutely in love with her- all over again! Reading it I realized she somehow managed to “make time” – that is one skill I would love to master!

    • April 26, 2010 9:00 am

      Indeed. I first heard the “BICHOK” rule on episode 16 of the Writing Excuses podcast. It makes for an excellent mantra to promote productivity!

      Finding the time for that, though: there’s the real secret. That’s why I enjoyed Agatha Christie’s quote this week. Sometimes you have other things going on. That doesn’t mean you aren’t writing at the same time… you’re just doing it discretely, in your head, until you can get to that place where you can get into BICHOK mode.

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