Writing Lessons From Writing Fan Fiction #3: Staying on Task

Posted 7 March, 2014 by DLWhite in Writers Write 0 Comments

Welcome back friends! I’ve been posting this week about the lessons I’ve learned about writing from writing Fan Fiction. Not only has it been great practice but it has taught me some things about writing. In review:

Lesson 1: You’re writing. Believe it. You MUST believe in and treat your work like it is real writing, because it is upon this work that you will improve. One cannot get better at writing without writing– you can read all the writing books you want to read, but unless you put it into practice and take it seriously, improvement will be hard to come by.

Lesson 2: Along with the good (reviews) comes the bad (reviews). Learn how to deal with them both! Don’t engage in criticism that doesn’t help you improve your work, and don’t make readers who love your work feel stupid for loving it. Remove the ‘this old thing’ response and say thank you!

Today we’ll talk about Lesson 3:

How to Stay On Task

Quite often in Fan Fiction, stories are posted as serials, meaning a writer might post a chapter or two, and build on the story as time goes on. Weekly or monthly, bi weekly, or as the chapters/sections come forth, the updates get posted. This builds a following and, if you do it right, keeps your readers on the tip of their toes waiting to find out what happens next.

There is nothing so disheartening as getting involved in a story and finding it unfinished, and that the author hasn’t updated their story in weeks. Or months. There are a few stories that I longingly stroke and nuzzle, hoping the writer will come back and satisfy my need to see the story line end. Sometimes a writer just ‘loses’ the story. Sometimes the writer never had the story in the first place. I see lots of ‘idea starts’ that never end up in completed stories, either because the writer has spread him/herself thin over so many pieces or because the writer was unable to stay on task.

The importance of keeping yourself on task is not  only necessary if you update in real time and want to keep your audience engaged. It also transfers to any writing project that you have underway, including original fiction and blogging. However you plan your stories (build on a concept and then write, outline the entire story, or just sit down and write) or your posts, it is helpful to stay a few steps ahead of whatever point your readers have reached. If I don’t know ‘what happens after this‘, a chapter doesn’t get posted, because I don’t want to write myself into a corner that I can’t get out of.

If it helps to keep yourself on a schedule, do it! I used to plan for a few days, write Thursday, Friday and all day and Saturday, have the chapter Beta’d and then posted by Sunday night. Sometimes this schedule slipped, especially if I was having a hard time, but knowing that people were waiting to read what happened is amazing motivation. This can apply to blogging as well. If it helps to build a schedule, build and establish one. If you want to post about certain things on certain days and it keeps you motivated, do it. Whatever works to keep you on task is what you need to do.

Do you have trouble staying on task, blogging on a schedule, providing timely updates? How do you manage your writing schedule?


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