Monday 20 May 2024

When Plans Change - The Creative Process


It always seems to amuse people that when it comes to actually writing projects I'm not much of a planner, and yet when it comes to my life? Oh I plan all that I can. I've always been someone who was organised. I might not have had the spoons or the tools to make my plans the way I wanted, but for many many years I've had a to-do list, and I live for ticking things off and knowing that they're done.

This doesn't apply to drafting, it does to revision and editing, but that's a piece for another day. My point today is that sometimes, no matter how carefully we have planned either writing, or editing, or life itself, things happen and those plans have to change and it sucks, because if you're someone like me, the thought of all those carefully laid plans falling apart, it causes massive anxiety.

But part of being human is that we have to adapt to change. We have to make sure that when said plans fall apart, we're able to pick ourselves up, dust off, and get back on the horse. There is nothing in this world that you can plan one hundred percent and have it all go to the script. It just doesn't work like that.

When editing a book, you may find that actually there's a huge rewrite that you didn't foresee coming. When taking on some kind of writing challenge, you may discover that the time you allotted yourself isn't enough. When making plans to release a book, you may find that something goes wrong, and you have to scramble to keep on track. Plans change. It's normal. It happens to us all, but that doesn't make it easy to cope with, like the aforementioned anxiety.

Everyone reacts to change differently and it's all valid. I have friends who can adapt and roll without any issues because they're used to doing that. I know people who find it paralysing to have to think of how to work things now that it's not possible to do it the way they originally thought. That's the point, everyone is different and everyone has their own way of coping with things.

But what does that mean for writers? I'm not necessarily talking about just outlining or the like. I mean things like the book releases that don't go to plan, or the revisions that are taking longer than thought and mean that deadlines aren't going to be met. I thought that today I would give you some of the things I do when plans change unexpectedly and if they work for you, great, if they don't, then I hope you're able to find a way that does.

I think a lot of the time, these changes happen so suddenly, and sometimes in a cascade that the initial reaction is to panic. I've been pretty lucky in not having a massive change like that happen too often, but even when it does, while panic and anxiety is generally my first response, I also remind myself to have a moment to breathe. To pause. To allow myself to just step back and really think about what this change is going to mean to my ongoing plans. You'd be surprised at how much that can help sometimes.


I'm very lucky to have a good group of close friends. Some of who are also authors, some of which are not. I know that I can rock up to their DMs and just let it all out and then they'll listen to me and we'll discuss ways to either adapt, or to fix things until we have a clearer path moving forward. Sometimes all you need is just to vent, let it all come out, and then you will see the answer, but it's good to have that support while doing so.

We all know that we have to adapt. We know that we have to move things around and find a way that will work, and all of that takes time to do. We also know that part of the human condition is being able to adapt quickly. For some it's quicker than others, but the option is there. If after taking that moment to breathe, and talking it through with your friends, you find a way to save the situation, by pivoting, or changing this or that, then keep moving forward. Sometimes it's not possible though.

I know that for some situations, it's just not possible to immediately pivot and find a solution. Sometimes there aren't solutions that you can easily use and that sucks yes, but it also doesn't give you a way forward. In those cases then I think taking that step back and taking another look at this new situation can really help you come up with a better plan. It might mean changing deadlines. It might mean doing things like pulling a release, which I did a few years ago, but whatever the outcome, you can make it work for you. It just takes time.

So with those, I give you my tips, and hope that all your plans go as smoothly as they can, and if they don't, that you're able to find the new way forward.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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