Have a writing plan for each project
Whether an instructor has given you a writing assignment or you have come up with a project on your own, filling out a project worksheet is a good first step toward a successful outcome.
Fill in the basics
At the bottom of this post is my project planner for Punctuation Pointers and Pitfalls, the next book in my Write to Fit series. Notice that I entered a start date. For me, it was the day I actually started work on developing the idea, which included filling out the planner and making a list of punctuation marks to discuss in the book. If your project has been assigned by an instructor, your start date might be the day you received the assignment. Of course, you know the importance of the completion date. Length is also important. Whether you are writing a standalone paragraph of 150-200 words or a book, knowing how long something will be helps you begin to adjust the topic to fit the size of your project.
Of course, you can tell from the title of my book that I had already narrowed my topic to punctuation marks when I entered the project name. However, you may have a project subject that is vague, like “Civil War” or “Being a Parent.” If so, you will want to bring some focus to it when you fill out the topic and organization sections of the form. However, anything you enter can be changed as your perceptions of what you want to write develop over time. Later blog posts will go into more detail on narrowing topics.
Decide on an overall organizational method
Organization is the main method you will use to present your topic to the reader. I have chosen definition and process as my main organizational methods. I will be defining the various punctuation marks and their uses. Then I will show how to use them. If you are writing about parenting, you might write a narrative (story) that shows someone being a good parent. You might write a comparison/contrast paper showing the differences in behavior between a good parent and a bad parent. You might write a cause/effect paper showing why someone parents children the way he/she does. Instructors will often tell you the organizational method required for the paper, so read assignment instructions carefully.
Make sure you understand the formatting requirements
Formatting involves what the finished project looks like on the page. Since I am planning to publish my e-book on Kindle, I must follow the appropriate guidelines. Amazon has made available an entire e-book containing that information. If an instructor has given an assignment, the formatting requirements may come with the individual assignment or be stated in a syllabus or other course document. Since different instructors will have different preferences, make sure you locate and read the assignment formatting requirements carefully. Here are some examples of specifics to look for. Should you indent or not indent the first line of a paragraph? Should you double space the lines. Should you leave an extra line between paragraphs or not? What size and type of font should you use? What margins should the page have? How should you name the file and what file type should you use when saving? These are only a few of the possible formatting particulars you may be required to follow.
List intermediate due dates
Next, there are the due dates. Even short pieces, like paragraphs and essays, have stages of writing that require time for writing, reflecting, and revising. As it has been a week since I first filled out my punctuation book planner, I now see I should have broken down the rough draft deadlines into chapters, perhaps two per week. Without intermediate time limits, it is easy to procrastinate, so I will make those adjustments today.
Make note of other considerations
Depending on the project, you may have other tasks to complete. You may need to view a video, interview one or more people, or perform some other task. You may be asked to write for a particular audience, such as new mothers or high school students. Make note of such requirements in this section.
Write to Fit Project Planner
You may download a blank Write to Fit Project Planner to fill out and adjust to fit your needs. You may share the form with others, but please keep the copyright and website link at the bottom of the page. You or your friends may have questions you would like to ask me.
Write to Fit Project Planner Example
Project name: Write to Fit Punctuation Pointers book.
Start date: February 13, 2015
Completion date: May 5, 2015
Length: 50-60 pages
Topic: Punctuation marks and how to use them
Organization: Definition, Process, How to
Special formatting: e-book for Kindle
Prewriting: Feb. 18
Rough draft: April 15
Final draft editing: April 25
Final draft proofreading: April 28
Final draft formatting: April 30
Submission/Publication: May 5
© 2015 Hazel Hart