It’s good to have plans. Knowing what your novel will be about will definitely help you stay focused in your writing.
However, like all good things, moderation is key. Yes, there is such a thing as over planning your novel.
Signs you may have planned too much:
Your outline for your novel is over 20 pages long.
You know your characters better than your closest family or friends.
You have spent a week or longer planning for the novel.
Why is Over-Planning a Novel a Bad Thing?
- The time spent planning is writing time lost. Every hour you spend planning for your novel, you could have been writing.
- Planning can cause creative anxiety, You may feel pressure to write the “perfect” novel, and as a result end up writing nothing at all.
- Writing may feel like work. You may dread writing a scene, or you may find it harder to write something that you planned that it would have been had you written it spontaneously.
- Your writing style may seem forced, instead of the natural and reflective of your unique creative voice.
Finding the Balance: Plan Responsibly
You can have a plan for your novel before you start writing. You just need to remember to practice balance and moderation. Here are some ways to help you avoid over planning:
Choose the Right Planning Method for You: In our article 6 ways to plan a novel, we cover some of the popular ways to plan your novel. Choose a method that is easy for you to do, and doesn’t get you so caught up in planning that you forget to write.
Keep it Brief. You do not need to outline what your character wore in every single scene or even write out long descriptions of the setting. Remember you’ll be writing that as the book unfolds – no need to include it in your plan. If necessary, jot down notes but your initial planning sessions should not go into every single detail.
Set a Timer or a Deadline: If you’re doing research for your novel, set a timer so you do not spend the entire afternoon on Pinterest or Google. Never spend more than a week planning and organizing the details of your novel. An oven timer can be great for setting 30-60 minute alarms to tell you when to stop.
Do you ever feel as if you’ve over planned a novel? What was your experience? Do you have any tips for avoiding over planning to write a novel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.