If Outlines are Burning Me Out

In January, I shelved the dystopian I was working on. I had been outlining and planning and plotting for weeks, and it wasn't going anywhere fast. I'd started it half a dozen times, and been frustrated with every beginning.

Now it's February, and I'm running into the same problem with Lead Us Not. I've outlined and planned and plotted. I've written the beginning twice. And while I think the story has serious potential, I'm not having any fun figuring out what's supposed to happen. If it wasn't a sequel, if it wasn't what it is, I would have shelved it already.

Also in February, I've begun a completely unmarketable historical fantasy in the vein of Patricia A. McKillip and Megan Whalen Turner. {What, you don't know who they are? Thus its unmarketability.}

What's wrong? The book I want to work on, the book I believe in, Lead Us Not, has stalled. And the book that was supposed to be nothing more than a dabbling is actually taking a nice shape.

I've written about this before, about how my need to make each book easier than the last by planning is actually getting in my way. But I hadn't seen it live in action until now. The historical fantasy, unoutlined, unplotted, unplanned, is what occupies my writing attention. And Lead Us Not sits there and mocks me.

If outlines are burning me out, I'm going to have write from scratch. That's how I've always done it. I assumed I would grow out of it. I thought I would become a mature and confidant writer, outlining everything beforehand so that my number of drafts lessened. But that is not to be.

Writing something--particularly a certain sequel that I want to finish--is more important than having it all mapped out before hand. And even though the thought of embarking on Lead Us Not scares me, the thought of abandoning it altogether, the way I did Callyn's story, scares me even more.


AimeeLSalter said...

I agree. You've got to find your process. Do what works. You can always write half the book, then outline the rest if you need to know where you're going.

Or don't outline at all. If you got TWT together without an outline, I'd say "HUZZAH!"

Jayne said...

You have to do whatever suits you. Perhaps outlining isn't your thing but hey, at least you tried it! And now you know what works best for you. Good luck with it!

Anonymous said...

Outlining isn't for everyone. If it stifles your creativity, throw it out. Or maybe it's too restrictive. I, lately, have done a reverse outline where I set up the main frame but I don't always adhere to it. In fact, since I've learned of inciting incidents, I've taken to doing a rough outline chap by chap, as I write the chap. Does that make sense? In other words, before I start a chap, I jot down what I want to happen. I don't stick to it line for line though if an idea offshoots that I realize would meld perfectly with the story, I add that in then go to the next chap and jot down notes for that one and work on bringing everything together. I don't know if the chap by chap notes will help you or not, in reality you have to find your own way of doing things. Good luck!!