Writing Without An Outline

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I recently wrote a Tweet on Twitter that said “Writing a first draft is sort of like writing an outline – a very long, book-like outline.” It’s mostly a joke (and a late night one at that), but I find that writing the first draft works better for me than outlining it. I have nothing against outlines and if they work well for some people, then they should certainly stick with it. I’ve just noticed when I write that I like the process of writing linearly – this is where you discover how things unfold in the story as you go (while having a loose idea of it since it’s already in your imagination). I like when the characters “come to life” in a sense, showing me where they want to go (Whimsicality aside, I do recognize that this is all created by my own mind). That’s what writing is for me.

Writing without an outline also saves time in a sense – you could spend days just working on an outline as you figure out how things will unfold. If you love outlining then that’s a great thing, but for someone who just wants to get writing, I’d much rather use those days for writing chapters. And I see outlining as kinda spoiling the whole story for myself. I like being surprised as I write.

I’m also realizing that jumping into a story and just writing the first draft is sort of like an outline itself. I say this, because most first drafts are basically the story’s bare bones. It’s rarely going to be a great, full piece of work that’s ready to be published if it’s novella length or longer. I’m someone who will get the story down first then go back and edit/rework it later. It’s also incredibly satisfying to know that your story’s complete – even if it’ll take 10 edits to make it publish-able.

Would I ever write with an outline in the future? Maybe. I’ve seen some really elaborate scenarios where people write full character sketches and pen pretty outlines in journals and the whole thing looks so aesthetic and cool. It might be something I’d try one day just for the art of it. The mood could hit me one day. In general, though, I’m definitely what they call a “pantser” when it comes to writing, because it seems to fit my writing style best.

It might seem a little careless or disorganized to those who prefer to outline, but it’s an organized type of chaos. 😛 There’s definitely a method in why we write linearly with no strict plan rather than pre-plan the story before it’s written.

Whether you’re a pantser or an outliner, I wish you the very best with your writing! Xx Catch you later. 🙂

9 comments

  1. I write by hand normally, and then type it on to the computer, but even then it is a very rough first draft. I need to get back to my writing, but I’m spending far too much time on the Website. I’ll be off work in a couple of weeks, so I’ll get back to writing then.

  2. I like the idea of an outline but it also seems like hard work… but then also it sounds like a whole creative process in itself.

  3. I like to view outlining as a roadmap. It helps me get back on track when I get lost in the weeds which happens very often since I more likely than not diverge from it. I go into every outline knowing that I may do something different 5 chapters in but it’s a great visualization tool! I admire you pantsers though! How do you even 😆

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