Friday, August 30, 2013

Life Lessons—When Write Doesn't Go According to Plan

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D

Let’s face it. Life doesn’t go according to plan. Neither does your writing. Your best laid plans and prose could end up in the reject pile. It’s enough to make you crazy if you let it.

For the last forty-eight days, I’ve been living on my bicycle and traveling down unknown roads throughout America on my Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour. Throughout each day, amazing stories unfolded, women came forward who were suffering in silence from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Not one of those days went according to my best laid plans. Each of them ended in amazing success.

Wise writers plot out their books, write a synopsis and pretty much know where their book is headed. Then the characters take on an agenda of their own and the plot thickens.

They finally present the finished product to an agent or editor. They accept it, but then they want to change this scene, that character trait or suggest you change the ending.

Wait. That’s not what you planned!

Trust me when I tell you no book on the shelf today went according to the author’s plan. There will always be tweaks, changes, edits. If a writer is not expecting it, it can wreck their train.

So what do you do when write doesn’t go according to plan? Here are a few things:

1) Remember your plan is a guide, not 
a solid, must-do strategy.

2) Keep in mind your desired outcome: publication.

3) Learn from those who have taken the journey before you.

4) Let go of your preconceived notions of how it will all turn out.

5) Enjoy the view!

Don’t get so hung up on your idea that you lose the blessing of the detour. Write will never go according to plan. Get over it. Embrace it. GO with it and have a great time seeing the new and exciting places your journey takes you.

When was the last time your write didn’t go according to plan? How did you Handle it? Share it here!

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching ( She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @MagellanCoach.


  1. I've got a subplot gone awry (it didn't tie back in like it needed to), and in the next two weeks a re-write is in order.
    Thankfully, I had wonderful brainstorming assistance to help me solve the issues at hand and straighten my path. :)

  2. I have three finished, unedited books that I've not touched in oh, um, three years. I am caught up in learning the ropes of the writing industry that I've forgotten all about them, well, not really; that's an excuse! Along the way though, my characters changed throughout one of my books and I loved the direction they took. I guess I just go with it when that transpires and I too enjoy the journey.

  3. So glad Cjoy! Keep at it. You'll get there! Know what I think? the rewrite will produce a better story than you originally conceived! Yay!!

  4. Great tips! It is sometimes easy to forget the outline is not set in stone. I outline all my books and stories, but none of them ever turn out how I think they will ... learning to go with the flow and let my characters speak for themselves sometimes is a lesson I don't believe I will ever completely learn!

  5. I think they call it outline because we'll always get outside the lines! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I love it when a character stomps h/h foot and says uh,uh, ain't doin' it that way. And they off they go in a tangent I never dreamed about. Great post, Reba. And thanks for the help on Book# 1. :-)

  7. Edie, thanks for hosting Reba today.

    What a great article! I've saved this one to reference later... when I get to some of those roadblocks in my writing. Thanks, Reba!