Friday, May 9, 2014

Creating Your Own Playbook

Before a football team goes out on the field to play the opposition, they have to learn the plays in a playbook, assembled by the coach. Without these plays, the game would be chaotic, plus there wouldn’t be any way for one team to defend itself against the other. And so it is with freelance writing.

Most beginning writers don’t give any thought to planning much of anything. They’ve been taught in school that ideas and words will just flow out of their brain like magic. But what most of them soon realize is that doesn’t happen—at least not very often. Plus, even though they think they know how to write, they probably don’t, and surely they really don’t know how to write whatever form they choose—articles, short stories, novels, non-fiction books, plays and screenplays.

There’s no set playbook out there. The truth is that you have to create your own, based on your writing skill level and interests. You have to do what works best for you.

To begin, you need to decide how you’re going to learn about how to do the type of writing you want to do. Will you take a course or two or three, or will you learn on your own. Taking classes is obviously the easiest way, but it may not afford you the information you want and need.  If you’re at all self disciplined, you can teach yourself.

Today, the Internet provides a wide variety of resources for the beginning writer. Plus, there are books specifically written about the type of writing you want to do.

Search the Internet for how-to articles and examples of the writing you want to do. Print out the ones that you think will help you to understand this kind of writing. Get yourself a looseleaf binder and some dividers and assemble your playbook. You won’t be doing this all at once, so make sure you have enough room in the binder.

Look for information about getting ideas,  formatting, marketing, blocking, and developing a style, and most importantly, information on how to write articles, short stories, or whatever particular type of writing you’ve chosen. Each type of writing has its own rules and formatting. Learn what they are and start practicing them from the start.

After you’ve assembled your playbook, choose an article, story, or book idea and begin to work on it using the information you’ve gathered as a guide. Essentially, you’re creating your own guidebook. Use your playbook over and over until you’ve developed your own procedures and writing whatever you decide on becomes second nature.

At first you’ll follow the directions slowly, making sure to get the format of your writing correct. Then using the examples of writing like what you’re working on, continue building your article, story, or book. When you get it finished, use the marketing information to send your work to publishers.

As you continue to write, find better examples to analyze and make notes to add to your playbook. Nothing beats your own notes. While you can learn a lot from reading online or in books, having notes you made from these sources will help you tremendously. You can even assemble a virtual playbook for your tablet or e-reader instead of the paper variety.

Now that you have your playbook, get out on the field and win the game. 

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