Outline or no outline?

Here is the age old question, and you will seriously find strong opinions on both sides of this spectrum.

You have to outline or your book reads like you don’t. You go off on wild tangents. Or you have to let it free flow or it reads like an instruction manual. I think I’ve about read every article that lists pros and cons to both.

I’ve tried to be an outliner. Planning my story down, and I find shortly into it I give up. I’m finished with the book before I’ve even gotten started. My brain whirls, and I hate the whole process. I’ve thrown more books away by trying to plan them out, than I can imagine.

I also have friends that plan down to the tiniest details before they’re ready to go. Which works amazing for them. They are able to kick out books at their own rate once they know everything.

After all of this I’ve come to the conclusion like everything else that comes with following your creative flow this too is one of them. It’s no different than what time of day you’re the most creative, and can work. There are no set rules for any bit of it. There have been great successes and failures on both sides of the spectrum. I say lets all work the way we do, and what works for you might not work for your friends.

I’m not a horribly organized person, but I tend to jot down a overview plot line. That’s great enough for me. My friend details out every tiny bit until they are sure they know every nuance of their story, and that works great for them.

This all feeds back to the saying, ‘There are rules to writing, only nobody knows them’. Like all creative lifestyles it’s a matter of what works for you. Invent your own personal rules, and follow them, but don’t forget. Your rules work for you, not necessarily your friends. So in light of it all just remember everyone has opinions, and to quote my father, ‘Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and some stink’.

Follow your own methods to writing that novel, and remember…..

L.O.L. (Live It, Own It, and Love it!)

Until next time.

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NaNo Sucketh

Hello my brave readers! I had another post written, and scheduled to post today, but I deleted it. It came from a place of anger, and venting. I had placed a positive spin on it, but it still wasn’t the type of post that I wanted to place for today.

That being said you may read the title and wonder what I mean by it. No, I do not mean the annual NaNoWriMo competition sucks. I love NaNoWriMo, and I try to participate every year, even though it is my busiest time of the year. 

I do mean by NaNo sucketh (yes, a completely made up word from some of my frustration) that every time I complete NaNoWriMo I have more of a disaster on my hands than I anticipated at the start of November. NaNo is all about getting that word count down. You aim for a goal every day, and you type until your bones ache. At the end of the month if you hit 50k or higher you’re a winner. You spend December in this euphoric state of being.

January rolls around or later and you pull out this masterpiece that you have written. One peek inside the chapters, and your jaw hits the floor. It’s the worst thing you possibly could imagine. Everything is in a disarray. You’ve just spent thirty days creating the biggest pile of garbage that you have ever laid eyes on. Setting the book on fire, or burying it in the yard seems like a better use of your time than facing this monstrosity that you’ve created. 

Stop. Don’t do that. I can assure you my brave readers, and creative types that is not the way to go. I too am looking at my last year’s NaNo project currently, and I’m in a sad state of affairs with it. 

I’m like a two year old with a tantrum right now. I do not want to have to go through this thing. It would be so much easier to forget I’d ever written it, or better yet bury the zombie book. Still, if I buried my books that better resembled swiss cheese than an actual novel I’d have nothing to show for my hard work. 

But all these ideas that are begging to be written. You might whine. Keep a file on your desktop, write down every idea that comes to you, or even in a notebook. Keep them somewhere safe. Now that, you’ve got that accomplished let me explain the method that I’m trying now.

This is where I’m at now. I can see the mess of my NaNo project (I’m smart enough to admit how bad it is). It needs work, loads of work, but at the same token if I don’t get any writing done in a day I feel like a failure. Yes, editing is part of the process as well, but it can be overwhelming when there is no fresh words to a page.

So, I break up the work. I figure up about how many hours I have to dedicate to my job (or second job for some of you). As I am a stay at home mother of three I have a bit more time than most, but that fluctuates on a day to day basis depending on homework, housecleaning, and the likes. I digress, here is what you can do….remember as I stated previously do not count my advice as the only way things are done, or even the best. It is neither. It is simply what works for me.

Anyway, separate off an hour or two for editing. So, say you can manage four hours of dedicated work to your second job. Take an hour or two from that, and call it your editing time. Meanwhile that still leaves you two to three hours to work on a new project. Set an alarm on your phone, an egg timer something, and keep track of your time.

Use the free time to type out a scene that is running through your head for a book, plot (if you’re the type) on your next book, or generally just get words down on paper. Sprint, if you’re into that type of thing, but when that timer goes off it is time to switch projects. I like to stop a project in the middle of the sentence. My brain uses that half sentence as a trigger so I remember when I was headed, and can continue on easier. I also jot down a few quick notes in italics beneath what I’ve just written so I can review it the next day. Save your project (I would suggest once on your computer and a flash drive). I’ve lost thousands of words to computer crashes. Backups are ESSENTIAL.

Now, close out the program and pull up your editing. Reset your timer, and work diligently on editing. We all have a method to which we work our editing. I like to go through and read the book to be edited front to back first, especially if it’s been a few months since I’ve seen it. That way I get a good feel for the story. I don’t edit while I do this, but merely make some notes in sidelines (if it’s printed) or using the review tool in word. 

After I have the initial reading review finished I will break it down by paragraphs. I get overwhelmed very easily so I’d rather look at the project one paragraph at a time than as a whole. I will mess with the paragraph until it reads smoothly, and then I move onto the next. I work each chapter that way, until I’ve been through the entire book. After all of that work is done I will give it a final read through. This read through I do out loud so I can catch anything that doesn’t sound right, and fix it. Final run through is fixing grammar, and format issues. Once that is complete it’s ready for editors (content, line by line, punctuation and grammar editors are needed) Sometimes you get lucky and find editors that can do at least two of them. After that work on the submission packets, or if you’re like me Indie find beta readers.

Okay, now that I’ve reviewed everything, and this post is extremely long. Let’s get back to the post. Manage your time. If you’re like me, and not getting new words down is frustrating you, but your time is limited to work….remember to separate your time. Spend more time on the project that is at the top of your list, but just because editing is up there to release a new book, doesn’t mean you can’t have another project in a different stage of the writing process. All you have to do is make sure that you are still dedicating time to both. 

So, with all of this being said. I’ve figured up my job time, separated off my edit time, and now it’s on to setting timers and sprinting out some word count. 

Oh, end note before I close out this blog post. Small notebooks and pens that can be transported with you are great ways to keep track of writing ideas while you’re at work or running errands.

Remember LIVE YOUR DREAMS – OWN THE PATH – LOVE THE WORK

Live it – Own it – Love it    L.O.L.

See you next time, valiant creators from around the globe.