Writing to a Deadline Part 4: “I hate this stinking outline”

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

Outlining is not a waste of time

Outlining is not a waste of time

Outlining is not a waste of time

ARGHHHHHH I hate this stinking outline thing!

No!  I am not going to give up.  I have an idea, but I just want to start writing dern it!  I know where I am going.  The outline is in my head.  Just let me GO!

But it’s already in my head.

Don’t you just hate it when you argue with yourself?

My problem is I have precious little time to write.  Half an hour during the day while I’m at lunch.  That’s it.  I just can’t “get into a character’s head” at home (Dog, husband, three kids… you get the idea.)

Writing down this outline when I could be writing the story makes me want to throw things!

In my writer’s group last night we went off-topic, and someone mentioned that after they outlined, the story flew out of their fingers because they knew exactly where every scene was going.  They are probably right.  There is a “bridge” that I need and I am not sure how my character will get there. That is usually the fun part for me… finding out.  The problem is I don’t have the luxury of the time to figure that out while I am writing a scene that might end up getting deleted.  Deadline, remember?

What fun is that?


Going back to the outline, now.  I’ll let you know how I do.


20 responses to “Writing to a Deadline Part 4: “I hate this stinking outline”

  1. i’m not a very dedicated outliner, but i like to have a plan. this tip might help. i jotted down a bunch of scenes onto separate index cards, then put them in a some kind of order on a cork board (so they can easily be rearranged). the entire story isn’t up there, but i have a good starting point, and work on scenes i know need to be there, and fill in the holes as i go.

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  3. It is so hard to do what you know you should when it doesn’t feel natural. Keep chugging along!

  4. I am in the same boat as you right now–I am working on my storyline. It’s not very exciting–I’d rather dive in and write the story–but I want to make sure to fix any plot problems early on. An online writing seminar I watched mentioned it could take up to 6 months for a good outline, so I am reminding myself to be patient and get it right. But know that I feel your pain!

  5. Jennifer, Jennifer … why do you suffer so in vain? You don’t need an outline … repeat … you don’t need an outline. A first draft is the perfect place to let it all hang out and get to the heart and soul of the story. Take it from an old salt who waited for everything and everyone to fall into place or go away before she bit the bullet and began to write her stories: Don’t wait. Outlines can be part of the second draft. It takes a dozen of them to write a well crafted book and you are losing valuable learning time worrying about a tool you can perfect later. Two: if you come here once a week and take the time to write a blog or answer other blogs or scope out twitter or facebook then you have time to write more than on your lunch. Don’t throw anything at me, but read Stephan King’s book on writing and follow his advice … I once computed that IF I had written only 500 words four times a week I would have written over 2Million words while I was WAITING for the time to write. Three: get up before all of them, write down a certain number of words; give up twitter or facebook; give up commenting or answering pains like me; stop the blog or put it on vacation three or four times a year. When you start a book, make a separate NOTE word doc and only flesh out times, dates, characterizations and the log line of the book … then cut to the chase and let your muse take you on a wild ride 🙂

    • The problem is, that I love to write stories. I go off on tangents and have fun. I don’t have time for fun this time around. I have a deadline looming. I need to get this right… and fast.

  6. I suppose it is better to hate the stinking outline and bear with it than it is to hate the stinking product because it is a tangled unwieldy mess that resulted from skipping the stinking outline. My WIP has me stumped right at the point where inspiration and ideas hijacked planning and I have too much going on in a crazy looped up timeline. *grudgingly* Life lessons learned the hard way suck the worst, and have the most to teach us. Back to it.

  7. Oh my, you sound just like me right now! I didn’t use an outline for my first book (and took very few notes) and now that I look back on it, an outline would have made it much better. After writing the first 3 chapters of my current WIP, I’ve decided to use outlines (for story, characters and plot) and I HATE all the time it eats up (would rather just let my fingers fly across the keyboard) but I think it’s a necessary evil. Chin up, little buckaroo! 🙂

  8. I’m currently playing a creatively sneaky game of tag with my outline and writing. When I get “stuck” on my writing, I go back to filling in index cards for scenes in each act. When I get “stuck” on world-building or scene-building, I let the character sneak back into my head and write for a bit.

    NOT suggesting that my way is a good idea.

    I’m here with my pom-poms. Oh, wait. I’m wearing one of them as a hat. It’s a bad-hair-waiting-to-happen windy day.

  9. Outlines are hard… but totally worth it… stick to it.

  10. I go through this all the time! Totally understand what you’re going through, but don’t give up. Just keep at it! Sometimes just writing it down helps.