This week I’m posting a favourite writing related quotation each day. Today’s quotation is about the importance of planning.
I plan. I’m a planner. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it really is quite important – planning makes life easier and makes something as ridiculously large as a novel possible. We could just swim off into one without planning, of course we could – we could just stick our arms into wood-chippers, or paint ourselves with molten lead – there’s no end to the ludicrous and self-harming things we, as human beings, could get up to. But, honestly, really truly, novels provide all the ludicrous self-harm anyone could reasonably need. (In addition to all of the good bits.) Set out on a novel without adequate planning and I will bet you considerable sums, perhaps even of money, that you will then fall into a massive chasm, heaving with all of the difficulties associated with not planning. A novel is a new world, peopled and furnished with the never-were, and perhaps the never-could-be. Something as beautifully monumental as that, as founded on thin air and bloody magic, will need preparation. I wasn’t kidding about the three years I spend – on and off – fumbling about with settings, finding out about characters, stumbling over lumps of plot and, in every sense of the word, planning. Sorry to nag on about this, but I have, over the last couple of decades, met innumerable people whose novels didn’t make it, because they didn’t plan. At a certain level the logic is pretty simple; it’s very hard to tell someone a good story unless you know what the story is – hence, planning.
A. L. Kennedy (2014) On writing London: Vintage Books p. 96
Substitute monograph or thesis for novel. Read again. While we may not agree with never-were and never-could-be as what we do, academic work does involve considerable imagination and is a kind of world-making. And this takes planning. Planning, namely thinking and writing bits and pieces, is an integral part of an academic practice.