I am the type of person that I will not ask for help; not until I absolutely cannot figure out how to do it myself. Even then, I will research something first before I ask someone else to help me. I am not sure if that is pride or not, but I am sure that this trait has caused many unfinished projects. I’m not going to lie, this novel was almost one of them.
Even after the terrible first draft, the rewrite chapter by chapter, then finally coming to the conclusion that I can better tell the story in third person rather than first…I was still coming up stuck somewhere. It took me four days to write one chapter. Four. Days. Dude. And honestly, those four days were torture. Not only was my nose trying to kill me but I was literally dreading to write because I lost that sense of direction I felt I had when writing my first draft. I knew where I wanted the stories to go, and i definitely knew scenes that just had to happen. But I found myself lost when trying to get that oomf back.
The time it took for me to write that first draft, God, it was like my fingers worked on their own. I would start writing at 10pm and the next thing I knew, it was 4am and I had just knocked the fuck out of three chapters. I felt like I had conquered the world. Sometimes I would read blogs by other writers and see them discuss their outlining process and think to myself how crazy they were. Who does that shit? Like just write dude…I did. Outline, smoutline. Hmph.
Then I got stuck. I felt like I was part of my own Geico commercial. I envisioned mine to go something like this:
Christine is sitting at her desk. She is simultaneously typing with one hand and stabbing herself in the eye with a pencil with the other hand.
Voice over: When you are Christine’s brain, you just stop working. That’s what you do.
Show picture of happy family signing insurance papers.
Voice over: When you want car insurance, you choose Geico. It’s what you do.
[FADE TO BLACK]
I don’t know exactly the moment I decided to try and write down in order how I want things to happen, then broke that down into how long it would take for each of those things to happen and so on. But I do know that eventually instead of writing this stuff down, I decided to open up that Excel program that was part of the $169 bundle of Microsoft Office programs and put it to use.
And ya’ll…I saw the damn light.
I saw the light so hard I almost went back to the blogs I had read and laughed at and wrote them each a personal note that went something like,
Hey, you don’t know me but I wanted apologize for reading your post about outlining and laughing at you while drinking a glass of cheap boxed wine. I might have even called you a few names as well, I don’t know if your ears were ringing, but it was probably me talking bad about you…and I was wrong. I’m sorry, I will never do it again.
But I couldn’t remember all the blogs I did this to, so I just looked up and apologized to everyone at once.
Now when I open that Excel window, my damn book is basically written in that outline and it is beautiful. I even figured out new parts of plot I wanted to put in there that would help move the story along and clarify things more. It is fucking beautiful. I felt like if I was to outline, then I would feel constricted to only put in the book what was in my outline. But now looking at this, I see it is not true. But what I have here is my book finished with better plot lines and a story that much stronger than it ever was in my head while I just flew by the seat of my pants and wrote. Now, in case I feel lost again, I can go to this outline and get my ass back on track. It feels great.
So the moral of this story is:
- I am converted to outlines from now on.
- I really do want to apologize to anyone I silently judged while drinking cheap wine at 3am and read about your outline process. I was wrong, you are right. And I love you. And you are pretty. And stuff.