I’ve Converted to Outlining

I’ve written this post a million times. Although it was more in the form of “What is the Writing Process?” kinds of posts (all were eventually deleted for making me sound like a robot.) A type of post that you can find on wikiHow. (I’m not kidding there is an article about how to write a novel.) I’ve been that person that claims that freewriting is the best way to write a draft of your novel, story, essay, etc., but I was just starting to write then. Words flowed from me as if I was bleeding from a major artery. I didn’t think I would ever run out of ideas, or ever be able to go anywhere without a pen in my hand again. Then I started losing pens….and ran out of ideas. Freewriting is a lot less “free” than I thought it was. It became hard to have ideas because I just wrote until they ran dry. The freewriting process became a burden to me and gave me an excuse not to write when I know I should have. I had times where I could write 10 pages without a problem, and then the next day not even want to look at it for 10 minutes because my brain had been overworked.

So when I started writing my short story I did something that I claimed to hate. I created an outline for the plot and have been filling it in as I go. So far I’ve gotten to 3000 words in a draft from the first portion of the outline. It’s at least kept my thoughts in a straight line, which with how my mind works is a feat in itself. I just write out scene summaries. Sadly I can’t say I’m able to do the same with my novel just yet. I’m still having a lot of random scenes come up with my characters involved. You know….. Slow process.

It’s still a lot farther than I would get with just freewriting, plot-wise at least. Before I would probably write 20 pages and still go absolutely nowhere with a scene. With an outline, I know what the ending is supposed to be and how to get there. If I veer off when I hit my first draft then I know how to get back to where I’m supposed to be. I used to think that outlines were binding when actually it’s a guideline for you. Then again, I was also a little rebellious growing up. I didn’t like it when someone tried to tell me how to do anything creative.

Apparently Loki feels the same way.

I’ve realized that I need that little bit of extra help to create my story. That railing to hang on to when going up the stairs. I’m not bad mouthing freewriting because many writers create that way. I’m just saying that it just isn’t for me anymore and we had to break up.

What about you? Do you freewrite or outline? Do you have some other way to get your writing organized? Are you beginning to flirt with outlining when you are still in a relationship with freewriting, like I did? Let me know in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “I’ve Converted to Outlining

  1. Interesting, my write in keywords, then timelines, and then add details. My writing is limited to blog posts reviewing unsolved homicides. I cannot claim to be a writer but this is what I have been doing so far.

  2. I outline for novels, a couple sentences for each chapter – enough to keep me on track, but with enough wiggle room to follow the story wherever it wants to go.

    I’ve started outlining for longer short stories, but mostly because I’ll have a great idea and no time to write a sizable chunk, and if I don’t write it down, along with the direction I want the story to go, I’ll lose it.

    For shorter stories, I generally write them all in one sitting, so I don’t outline for them.

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