Should You Outline?

I think you know what I’m going to say here. Should I say it anyways? Yes, yes I should.

The answer varies from writer to writer.

Outlining can be a very touchy subject for writers. Some are hard core plotters and don’t understand why everyone else isn’t for it as well. While other writers are discovery writers and much more enjoy the fun of figuring things out as they go.

Neither way is the “right way”, despite what either side might think.

Personally, I see the benefits of outlining and highly recommend writers at least giving it a try. But, at the same time, I’m very much a discovery writer in the sense that things always pop up in my stories that I never saw coming—and I love it! So I’m a fan of both worlds.

There are many benefits to outlining that can improve your writing. It can make a more structurally sound first draft and save you a revision later on. It can also help give you a zoomed out view of your whole novel before writing. Then, when you do start writing, you can focus on the writing alone and not what should or shouldn’t be happening.

The fact is, this is a very subjective question—of which there is no right answer. Sara Ella is a discovery writer and writes the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. While Abbie Emmons outlines in such an extreme way I never even thought possible. And her books have raving reviews!

When it comes to writing, there is no right way to do any of it. Each specific writer has to try out different methods and decide for themselves what works best. Including whether outlining is the right thing for them or not.

Each time I plan a novel I tweak my process and try out something new. I have done this several times and still haven’t found “the” process for myself. Perhaps I never will because something I have discovered is that I love trying new things. And that’s okay.

Writing is not a formula that can be replicated time and time again. Writing is an art, and no form of art can fit in a generic box of “this is how it’s done”. My dad is an artist and even he talks about how every artist paints differently from one another. And they all produce beautiful paintings!

So should you outline or not?

That is a question you should thoughtfully think through and decide. But know, there’s no one shoe fits all method, and just because some people scream from the rooftops that outlining is the only way to go, doesn’t mean that it is.

Test things out for yourself and discover what fits your style and creative process. Then go with it! But you don’t have to figure it out right away—that’s what practice is for.

Your turn!

Do you outline? Do you enjoy trying different methods or have you found the one that works for you? Are you more of a discovery writer or a plotter?

Blessings, Allyson


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