I teach tenth grade English and am constantly making my students plan and outline before they write, but when it comes to my own novel writing, I don’t take my own advice.
My strategy for the past year has been to sit down when I get a chance and just write. This is great for small pieces,
What happens is that I get this story going, and then I get to a point where I am stuck. I used to think that an outline would stifle my inspiration, but now I have come to the realization that an outline focuses it.
I wrote a great beginning for my novel and I know what the climax is, but after months of writing, I find that I have a bunch of “scenes” that are completely disconnected.
So today I sat down and wrote the outline for my story. I didn’t even look at my manuscript while I did it. I wrote it in present tense, using short, direct sentences. I used cliches. Basically, I let the writing suck… for example:
“Henry sits backstage in a small time theater. He is in a dressing room he shares with several people, including his partner, Cecil. He puts on his blackface makeup using the burnt end of a cork. He is getting ready for his performance and if he does well, he will be booked in the Big Time, where there is a lot of money.”
And you know what? I have my entire story outlined and it makes complete sense. Now I can spend my time filling in the gaps with descriptions, weaving in secondary plot lines, and doing my ‘thang (which means pumping out creative genius).
My advice is to OUTLINE!