Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Why I Hate Outlines... And Other Sad News

So today is January 17 and a sad day for me. I was somewhat on track to reach my deadline until two very different yet not-so-great things happened at the same time.

As you know I actually wrote a bare bones outline for The Guardian and was moving merrily along. I struggled on a couple issues that were brought up in my re-writes, mainly introduction of characters at an earlier point but one where it made more sense. This little hiccup left me stuck a couple of times but I always managed to power through. I was about 70% into my draft and I did a quick check of my outline to make sure I was still on track. Guess what? I wasn't! Not even a little bit close. Somewhere around halfway I veered severely off track And I'm not talking off track but in a good direction that I could totally finish up with. I wound up so far off of what I had been intending to write that I really had no idea how to fix the story. It was turning out to be something that I wouldn't have been proud to write.

I wasn't doing my characters justice. Two of the more main characters were so weak I wanted to rip them right off the page. My main character didn't follow any of the rules set up by the world I had created for her. Her rebellion wasn't in the cute but workable type of rule breaking. What she was doing would have gotten her killed early on in the story. And the bad guy? Yeah, he ran more along the lines of Wile E. Coyote. It was awful!

I sat down with my outline, figured out where I had gone so far off the beaten path, and mapped out a way to get back to where I wanted to be with the characters I had originally intended to write. I, at that time, realized I didn't like my outline either. It had hemmed me in at a crucial juncture that I normally wouldn't have worried about. But I figured since I had the outline I may as well use it. One would think that I know enough about myself and my writing habits to know that outlines and I don't get along. So I scrapped it and set out to finish the book the way the characters wanted. I had a three day weekend coming up and a deadline to meet. I was all about getting this work done, I knew I could do it. And then...

I got the flu! Me. The flu. I couldn't believe it. I haven't been flu sick in ages. I get colds all the time but I pride myself on never being worse than that. Of course, it wasn't just a little 24 hour bug that I could push through. I was laid out in bed for nearly four days. Gone was my three days of solitude. Gone was my momentum that was going to carry me through to the end. Gone was my will to even look at a computer screen. And gone was my deadline.

Today, I shed a tear for my disappointing outline and my missed deadline. But I do not wallow in sorrow. As a wise fortune cookie once told me "You can't walk into your future backwards", so I move forward. No more sadness for what could have been only joy for what is to come. And now, I write!


  1. Maybe that just means you'll now come up with something even better or get a cool new idea!

  2. Hope your feeling better! Good luck I hope it goes good for you.