Am I really Outlining? -Nano Prep

I am not an outliner, at least I don’t think I am based on experience. I never outlined essays or research papers. I definitely never outlined any content I produced at my old job.

The way I see it, outlining is boring. I have a great difficulty doing boring tasks. If it’s boring, it will not get done. No matter how hard I try.


However, NaNoWriMo got me freaked out a little. I started writing a novel 3 months ago, and I got a little over 10k words so far. I basically only wrote whenever I felt like it. I didn’t feel like it most of the time. But I did continue to write other things. I have around 2k words written each, for 4 different stories. That’s what I do, and I am guessing I am not the only one. My attention span is very short.

As part of Nano prep, I thought I’d do some research. I don’t have time to read books about outlining (there are some amazing stuff out there, I might make a list at one point) but I do have time to browse articles and blog posts.

The verdict is that I am not convinced on outlining yet, but I did find a few tips helpful and they don’t completely bore me to death. The first tip I liked was about writing your scenes and characters and setting details on index cards. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a few sentences explaining what’s happening in your story.

The 2nd tip, and this one is my favorite, is to make a numbered list, and think about your story, and write down one sentence about what happens in your story. Each sentence represents a chapter or a scene. It’s totally up to you. I find this to be a more fluid way of outlining that doesn’t tie me down. And you don’t have to know everything about the story to make this list happen. You can keep updating it, changing it or just starting over as you write the story. I like it.

So. Here I go. Outlining or whatever.

Disclaimer: Click on the comic image for the source. 



  1. I’m calling what I have so far an “outline”, but it’s really just a bunch of “I want this to happen” notes in somewhat-chronological order. Really, having even that much written down first is helpful 1) so you don’t forget it by the time you want to write that scene, 2) so you have a chance to see where holes in the story might be before you reach them, and 3) so you can jump around in the writing to suit your mood–for me, trying to write an entire novel linearly is an exercise in frustration. But the outline keeps it all strung together neatly, at least until it’s time to revise and you might have to gut the story and rearrange the pieces.

    Liked by 1 person


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