should i outline my novel and possibly scream

Last week I wrote about why I haven’t been writing. I also did the rising author tag, even though I’d hardly call myself a rising author at this point given that I haven’t worked on a WIP since last NaNoWriMo. Still, it was somewhat motivational, and I at least emailed myself my last WIP so I can perhaps work on it when the library is slow. I’m feeling a little more motivated to write, but also a little uncertain of how to proceed. I still feel like I need to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC to really motivate myself and help myself deal with creativity fears, and also perhaps make an outline of my novel to help it along. So, I think it’s time to go through some of the pros and cons of making an outline before I dive back into my WIP…


  • Increased confidence going in. One of the reasons I always stop at about 25,000 words is because I get serious creative blockage. I tend to lose where the story is going around then, and I can’t figure out where to go and it gets hard to sit down and write when I don’t know WHAT to write. I think having an outline of what’s going to happen in the story could help alleviate some of those worries.
  • Better draft. So far, the two drafts I have are super messy, because I keep changing the character goals throughout the writing process because I need to move the story along. If I have an outline, I’ll know what the character goals are going in, and maybe it won’t be so hard to edit or have people read when I want that.
  • Help with writer’s block. If I have actual writer’s block and have no clue what to write, the outline will help guide me. I can pick and choose scenes to work on even out of order, and work on what I feel most confident writing about in the moment that I’m writing.



  • It’s just another thing to wait for. Writing an outline will obviously take time, and take time away from what could be actual time spent writing. It’s yet another way I might be waiting for perfect conditions, in this case, knowing exactly where the story will go before I start.
  • I really have no idea where I want the story to go still. I keep waiting to figure out where I want this story to go and how it will end and what the characters want and if they’ll get those things, but nothing comes. Sometimes it does help to just write even when you have no idea where the story is headed, and in that case I wouldn’t really need an outline.


Ultimately, I’m still just not sure whether I’m a pantser or a plotter. I’ve pantsed two half-novels thus far, and it kind of worked for the first one, but didn’t really go that well for Queer Bookish Novel. I think I need to ruminate on that one more, but I’m worried that it’s just another way that I’m avoiding writing. I just want to work on Queer Bookish Novel in some way, and maybe I can count things like outlining and reading BIG MAGIC for creative inspiration and affirmation as working on the novel. Hopefully, doing those things will eventually lead to actually writing the novel. Plus, there’s nothing that says I can’t write and outline at the same time. I guess I just have to find something that works for me, and realize that “working on the novel” can mean more things than sitting down and writing until I’m ready to write again. I have to get over my fears and doubts first, so small steps that work towards the ultimate goal of Writing the Novel might be a good place to start.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post, love the way you’ve highlighted pros and cons. Gives something to think about! I am about to start plotting novel 2 and i think I am going to do a tighter outline this time round x

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