If you know me then you know that I enjoy the outlining process. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I thought I’d do a post about why I love outlining my novels.
There are many different reasons why I love outlining my novels, but there’s one in particular that really makes me happy.
It keeps me organized.
Again, if you know me then you know that I’m a very organized person. I enjoy having a schedule or routine to follow. I enjoy cleaning and I love having a designated spot for everything. This goes for my writing as well.
I love outlining my novels because it keeps me organized – the novel itself and my thoughts. Outlining gives me a spot for a list of characters, locations, plot points, dialogue ideas, and everything in between.
My favorite part about outlining is that it helps me organize the general structure of the novel. Sometimes I summarize each chapter in a notebook, other times I use sticky-notes and index cards to plot the novel scene by scene, plot point by plot point.
There’s no right or wrong way to write a novel – we all work in our own way and at our own pace. For me, however, staying organized with your novel is key to completing that first draft, editing, and beyond. Staying organized in the beginning really makes things easier in the long run.
How do I stay organized?
I break my novels up into the stages of the creative writing process. I have a notebook for research and general notes plus a poster. (Or sometimes I just tape card stock together because who really wants to leave the house and go to the store?) Sometimes I’ll have an Excel sheet or Word document filled with bullet points and charts, but I’m old school. I like having pen and paper.
My first draft is written on the computer as if all the other drafts. I have an accordion folder to hold all the drafts as well as file folder to hold onto the current draft I’m on because I always hand edit.
I’ll admit, it doesn’t always look so pretty. I do have to organize and re-organize now and again. Still, it helps me and it looks nice inside the filing cabinet and on my shelves.
Long story short, outlining helps my novel itself stay organized. I mean, the outline is more like a guideline and changes a lot, but it still helps a lot.