Bullshit! That's the first word that popped into your head, right? Or, baloney! Or, nonsense! Choose your sophistication level. More, here is a scimitar. HACK OFF MY HEAD! Because who am I to dare to say this! No one. Carry on. Go somewhere else. I don't even know why you're still reading. What is wrong with you, poppet? Didn't you read everywhere that outlining a novel is a must? Oh, you must not lose yourself in the jungle of your thinking! Oh, you must not let the creative wander, you must contain it, organize it, channel it, for fuck's sake! This is how writers write, they stick to the outline! They must know how the book ends before beginning it! They must not stray from the road of the story! They must not... Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard all that. I'm sure you heard it too. And I read about it. And I totally outlined my first trilogy. TOTALLY. Like, 3 whole times. I reoutlined my outlines, even. Gee, talk about being thorough. Now, my 2nd novel, I wrote without an outline. I thought I was crazy, but I simply didn't feel like it. It was more fun just to plunge into the mess and swim in it. Or drown in it. Anyway. With my 3rd novel I got sorta stuck, at first. I wrote the 1st shitty draft, wanted to puke at it when I reread it, and now I'm finishing the 2nd draft, and I hacked it to pieces and restitched it and added a whole another layer and am changing the ending and I was so scared and doubted myself so much that I thought, SHIT. I should've outlined this beast. But. Here is something to ponder.
Thinking. I devalued it at first. When I began writing. I thought it's eating my time. I was impatient. I was scared I would forget all those thoughts it my head. I charged ahead. I flew! I wrote 2,000 words a day. 3,000 words a day. 5,000 words a day! 7,000 WORDS A DAY! I was so proud of myself. When I doubted something, I thought, whatever, I will figure this out later. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and... I'm learning something new. Still learning it. It was fear. Still is. Fear and self-doubt. They drove me. Drive me. Every day. I can now turn and look in their faces. And see who they are. And I'm not as scared anymore. I'm learning, slowly, slooooowly, to trust myself. To trust my thinking. Here is the problem. The problem is, thinking takes time. Big time. I'm afraid I will run out. Run out of my savings, run out of ideas, of everything. But I won't. Here is what happened. I was consulting all day yesterday, for money. Didn't write a word. I will be consulting all day today too. No writing. But in the back of my mind I was thinking. And yesterday night I came up with the perfect closing for IRKADURA (that's the novel I'm writing right now). It simply came to me. In the shower. All right, shower has nothing to do with it, but maybe it does. I will keep thinking about it in the back of my head (mind?) today. And, here is the thing.
OUTLINING ATTEMPTS TO ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR THINKING.
That's what I got. I'm scared to think. So scared to think. Hey, if I have a plan, I will stick to it! Easy! But then I won't discover. I won't sweat over every sentence, wondering what the next sentence will say, and the next. And how can I know ahead of the time what I will discover in the path of sentence after sentence after sentence? I don't. I can't predict it. This is not to say you shouldn't outline. You should, if it works for you. But don't stick to it if your story, your sentence after sentence way, takes you somewhere else. Abandon it. Wander. Discover. Notice. It's an amazing process. With time you will learn to trust it. With time you won't need an outline, won't need that security blanket. It's okay to have it, but it's also a lie. In a way. Hey, don't look at me like this. If I remember correctly, you already chopped off my head at the beginning of this blog post so whatever is coming out of my mouth right now is really coming out of my dead mouth and you should know better than reading my blog, I mean, there are so many smart books on writing out there! GO READ THEM. Sheesh. You're one stubborn pest.
Okay. So. Where were we. Ah. Outlining. Well, another thing we all try to do is have a theme in our books. It's for the critics to see, later. For reviewers to mention. For readers to contemplate. Well, can I say it now? Bullshit. This is just total bullshit. There is really no meaning, there is only a feeling. We try to put it into words, we struggle. And at some point, at some draft, we grasp it better, and better. But it's not butter to be smeared evenly over the prose of our novel, for readers to digest, bite by bite. There is no use holding back. You must be able to open a book and read any page and feel it. You know what I'm talking about. You're as guilty as I am. Those places where we SKIP. Hey, I don't want to feel this right now, it's too hard. In my outline says, this and this happens. So how about I dump a bit of backstory? Or how about I make my characters talk for a little bit longer? How about I inject some purple descriptions of purple ferrets and whatnot? That should do. That is what I see in books I read, and I snigger. I laugh. I yell, HEY WRITER, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOU CHEATER!
Well, it takes time to feel all this shit, think about it, form it in your mind, and write it down. An outline is an attempt to shrink that time. To make you write faster. Don't. You will pay for it later, when readers won't read your work as hungrily as you were hoping they would. It's like good wine. You might yell at it to ferment faster (does wine ferment? I don't know, whatever it does to ripen) and yell and yell. And will young wine become good wine faster because you yell? NOPE. It will ignore you and take its time. If you let it. I've been given this advice by wise writers. SLOW DOWN. They told me. Yeah, I ignored it. So fucking stubborn. I'm paying for it now. I guess, though, I did learn it myself, so I will remember it.
I DARE YOU.
Don't outline. Ditch it. Just write. If you've never tried it, try. It's an amazing discovery process. You will think thoughts you didn't know you had. Don't be afraid to discard them, to kill them, abandon them on the road. Wait for more thoughts to come. Wait for the right thoughts to come. Deep in your gut you will know them. Recognize them. Your problem is, it's taking a while. At first. Because you're a beginning writer. If you are, that is. Like me. It will speed up. With time. Make sure you allot yourself this time. Quiet time. Time when you're not distracted, bored out of your mind. Get your mind still. Make it watch your thoughts. Get lost in them. Write.