To Outline or Not?

February 20, 2016

 

I was having a conversation with a friend on a writing site I belong to about outlining. She's beginning a large series and was doing some serious deep in-depth outlining for the series before she even put pen to page. 

I never outline before I begin writing. I find it kills my creativity (I have another friend who hates that phrase). However, that’s exactly how I feel about the process. Outlining feels like work to me. My brain can’t handle the effort needed to sit down and think that far ahead to work on the book. I prefer freeform writing.

For each of us, the process is vastly different. A creative process works differently for all writers. As I’ve learned.

Some authors love outlining a lot. Some like making a minimal outline. Other—like me—love flying by the seat of their pants and watching as the story develops. I’ve spoken to others who make little post-it-notes with little storyboard-like events on them and stick them to their wall. Others have what they call an “idea page” where they keep track of major events that will take place in the book. Another does the beginning, middle and end, and works writing the bridging events between them to complete the story.

When I wrote the first book to my Merlin’s Chosen series I had no clue what I was doing. I sat down and began writing because I simply wanted to write. I didn’t know the rules and to tell the truth, I didn’t care about them. What I wrote was a very odd, but workable combination of first and third person. I, to this day, don’t know how I made it work. Yet, I’ve had no complaints from readers, everyone who has read it loves the characters and the story.

You see, there are no fast and set rules for the process, even if people want to tell you there are.

Do what works for you and if it stops working, find something new and go with that.

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