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I have never been able to work with an outline. Hell, I usually don’t even have a solid plot in mind. I have a general, vague idea, and my stories or musings spring from there. I prefer to write as it comes to me, on the fly, off the top of my head, with my hands racing across the keyboard to get it all down before I lose it. I do my best work when I just write and let my fingers take me where they will. I ramble and wander, figuring it out as I go.

Worried how some of my creative efforts have meandered along, I spoke to my hubby, and he suggested that maybe working from an outline would give me direction and make for a tighter story. I freely admit that I don’t like outlines. If I write an outline, I almost never stick to it. I say too much in an outline because putting down cryptic bullet points makes no sense whatsoever to me. Why bother? Outlines always seemed so pointless.

Wanting to be a better writer, I gave hubby’s idea of using an outline a shot. I forced myself to sit down and made an outline. I researched ideas, and I wrote a framework for a novel. Using Scrivener, my favorite writing software, I researched characters, drafting up complete bios for them, complete with pictures of people found online who fit the idea of the people I had in my head. I researched and set up plots for scenes, and I created detailed places for the scenes to happen.

I wrote a prologue with an exciting opening scene. After the action of the prologue, I decided I’d go back in time two weeks and write about how the characters got where they were when the prologue scene happened. And, that was as far as I got. I waited for inspiration to hit, and I got nothing. My mind was a big, fat blank.

My problem with planning and plotting it all out is that now that I’ve done that, the story is already written in my head. It has a beginning, middle and an end, and the pure joy of writing it and creating it moment by moment is gone. I already know where the story will go and how it will end so I no longer feel the need to write it. It’s like I’ve opened the book and already read the ending. I’ve spoiled it for myself.

This stalled effort taught me an important lesson. Outlines don’t work for me. Too much planning puts a real damper on the joy of writing for me. I need the surprise of not knowing exactly where I’m going.

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