I remember this wisdom being hammered into my head when I was a soccer instructor and had dozens of lessons to plan. “No matter how well you think you know the material, you must plan exactly how to teach it. If you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.”
And my instructor was right.
The same can be said about our writing. No matter how well we think we know our craft, we have to review, reread, rewrite, and rewrite again.
So often I receive proposals from folks who have dashed off the lines without a care in the world, or as one writer told me recently: “My job is to write. Yours is to make the corrections and come up with a proposal to send the editors to sell my book.”
It was the easiest query ever for me to delete. Well, almost the easiest…there was that one!
The author hadn’t planned on all of the work necessary to contact an agent. While writing the story is part of it, it isn’t all of it. The writer had not made complete plans.
We can all take a lesson from this. There are plenty of jobs in the writing process: author, editor, agent, proofreaders, critique partners, teachers at conferences, and even the newest copy of Chicago Manual of Style. And any break in the chain will result in…plan to fail.
Most everyone that I know in the industry WANTS to see writers succeed. They take no joy in passing on a project.
But we can always tell when an author has not done his/her homework.
Fail to plan, plan to fail.