I have done a lot of writing in my life - everything from letters and journal entries to essays, poems, and short stories. Last year I began my first novel length work and finished the last revisions this month. When I started Tristi's BIAM challenge, I thought I had it pretty much under control. Of course life always throws in extra things when I make myself a deadline. Or maybe I just notice all the extra things more when I am trying to focus on one project. But even when I take away all those distractions, I keep hitting a wall with this latest project.
The book I am working on is an idea I have been thinking about since last year. I put it aside because I wanted to get the other novel done first. Usually those ideas I am not ready for get written in a notebook and put away. This time I took the idea and worked on it whenever I needed a break from the other project. By the time I started the BIAM,I had the second idea almost completely outlined. So I thought I was that much ahead of the game.
I think I may have been wrong. You see, I have never outlined to this extent before. Even in college, I would usually write what I wanted to say, make a good copy and hand it in. (I hope my kids aren't reading this.) This whole outlining thing seems to have slowed me down. Maybe it is because I feel like I have already told the story. Part of what slows me down is that I feel tied to the outline. In some ways that is good because I know when I finish this one, there will be fewer plot holes that I have to fill in. On the other hand I have lost the freedom to let my mind go and follow wherever the characters are going to take me.
So as I trudge my way through this story, I will have to decide if outlining to the extent I did actually works for me. Is the time spent outlining and then trying twice as hard to get the story to flow worth it? I will keep at this project. I still think it is a good story. But when I get to the next one, I will need to seriously ponder the question, to outline or not to outline?