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Sick of outlining

March 12, 2012

For several days the flu has kept me from writing. What’s most frustrating is that my mind doesn’t understand that my body isn’t willing, and the ideas keep coming. Now I have lists of To Dos for the next few scenes. When I do this (or any sort of outlining), I struggle to write the scene. It ruins the suspense for me. I don’t have the same excitement to sit and write out every word or to develop ideas, but I have no choice but to finish what I’ve started. I have a bad habit now of writing bare-bones scenes and saying to myself, “It’s okay. I can flesh this out later when I edit the rough draft. At least it’s done and I can move on.” This leaves me with huge chunks that say “Finish this” or “Add this later.”

Am I the only one who faces this challenge with outlines? And how do you force yourself to renew that excitement so the scene is just as fresh as the first time you pictured it?


From → Writing

  1. I totally agree with you, that’s why I don’t do outlines. The closest I come is to write down an idea or two, maybe a sentence or two, but if I get in depth with an outline I don’t have the same passion for the story when i sit down to write. I do tend to get inspired at work, I always carry a small notebook in my pocket, and I will write in my spare time. Most of the time I can’t do more for scenes than get bare bones and go with the ‘I’ll flesh it out later’ theory. It stinks, usually I just have to leave it until I’ve written something else, then I can go back and be excited to dig into those scenes.

    • Whew. I’m not alone! I know there are no set rules to writing, but you always get that pressure that you’re Supposed to outline because They said so. It’s all means to an end…

  2. Oh yeah, I know what you mean by the pressure to do so, there seems to be tons of advice out there for people trying to break into the writing biz. but like you said, there are no set rules, what works for one may not work for the other. I try to go with the whatever works for you method. I also don’t have a novel I’m getting ready to publish and i only have two stories out in the world so far, so what do i know!

  3. I completely have that problem! I’m very much an outliner (I’ve tried to free-write, and always write myself into lost, sad little forest of aimlessness), but I do find that if I go too in-depth in my outlining, my scenes lack luster too. (Also guilty of scenes with the subtitle: “Unfinished” or “Needs [fill in the blank.]”)

    To tackle that, I’ve started trying to replace my scene outlines with a short blurb on where the scene starts and what the issue at hand is–and try not to figure out how to overcome the issue or accomplish the goal it until I’m actually writing out the scene. So far, it’s letting the characters build of their strengths and personalities without forcing them to parrot things because that’s what I had preordained for the plot. And to renew excitement for outlined scenes…honestly I’ve found it’s easiest to throw out that scene’s outline, start from the beginning, and imagine what could happen that would be awesome…and edit the resulting mess later. But that’s just me. We’ll see how well it actually works if I manage to get this beast published. 🙂

    • I do wonder if that method (writing little bits and pieces then going back later and fleshing it out) gives an advantage. Once we do flesh it out, it’s as if we’re on the second draft, since our minds have already weighed the pros and cons of what we’ve thought of before.

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