M.H. Norris

We were recording the podcast when our guest, David Annandale, talked about the value of an outline. He countered one of my primary objections, that an outline limits you and is constricting. He even went as far as to say it’s helped him write faster and get more done.

And the idea of that is extremely appealing.

I’ve mentioned several times in this column that sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up and some weeks this might be the extent of my writing. So finding ways to get my writing goals and deadlines accomplished, well, sounded appealing too.

He recommended the book 2K to 10K which I ordered that day and it got here a few days later and I read the first few chapters. The author’s method was fascinating to me. She was a new mother who had a tight deadline on a book and was hiring a sitter a few times a week just to get some writing time in.

When she sits down, she creates a mini-outline of what she’s going to write that day so that when she finally sits down to write she has worked out some of the plot issues and then could just fill in the finer points.

Mind. Was. Blown.

Don’t you just love when you get the same piece of advice from two different people. First time, you’re inclined to ignore it. The second though gets your attention and causes you to think. Maybe there’s something to the advice that it crosses your path not once but twice in a short period of time.

It’s no secret that I’ve stated many times that I hate outlines.

But I was curious. Was there something to this outline thing? Could I work on a writing project, use an outline, and not feel like I was limited because of the outline contains.

I had a memo pad that I was already making notes on. I took that and after reading through what I had of the next All The Petty Myths books, began outlining the story. I go chapter by chapter and scene by scene and I’m about 2 ½ chapters in and it makes me stop and think.

What can go here?

What works and what doesn’t?

Already, I’ve found an error with the timeline of the story and I was quickly able to fix it. Had I not done this there’s a good chance I would have missed it completely.

Every so often I go back through previous posts of my column and I smile at some of the adventures I had. Just earlier today (or yesterday since I almost waited until the last minute to write this but not quite) I saw a post I’d made two years ago where I mentioned apparently being stressed about writing deadlines I had that month.

Do I remember what these deadlines were?

No. Present me is curious what had past me so stressed two years ago.

So how will this outline thing work for me?

I have to admit, I’m curious. Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll have to post an update.