Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scrap the Outline

by C. LaRene Hall

A month ago, I attended a class that encouraged writing with an outline. Two weeks later, I also attended several classes that suggested the same thing. I took all of these classes very seriously, and I tried to follow the directions given. I was sure that maybe the instructors knew something I didn’t. By now, I’m ready to throw both arms in the air and declare defeat. It has helped a little to know where my story is heading, but I’ve had enough.

I even threw my first chapter away. Don’t panic. It’s stored away some place safe. I started over, and then I started over again. In the past month, I haven’t even written one chapter. I was hoping to have something for the first chapter contest, but it isn’t happening.

I’m calmly putting away the outline, and starting over again. This time I’m going back to my usual method and writing whatever pops into my head. Maybe when the editing process is here, I’ll again pull out the outline and see if I’ve missed anything along the way. For some people outlining may be the way to go. If when I first started writing I had outlined, maybe I could get it and use it effectively. But I’ve decided it’s better to not use an outline than it is to not write.

My advice to everyone is to write what you know, and write the way that is best for you. It’s good to attend workshops and writing classes, but don’t get so hung up on the way it’s supposed to be done, that you lose your voice to the point you can’t even write. These writing tools are there to help you, not hinder what you are doing. Now I’m going to do it my way.


LexiconLuvr said...

Sometimes the "rules" can bog a person down. I agree with you about just writing how it works for you because it's the writing that's important stuff.

Stephanie Black said...

You're so right that what works for one author might not work for another. I need a very general outline to get me moving, so I know where the story is headed, but I won't find the specifics of the story until I actually write it. My first drafts are a mess, but that's what revision is for!