Outlines or Free Write? I am an Outline Writer

Writers write differently. Not something new.

I feel there are two kinds of writer processes (with a grey area in the middle of course):

Outline Writers and Free Write Writers

Before I define, let me tell a tale of thoughts…or something like that…

This weekend got me to thinking about something a fellow writer said to me. We had been discussing writing (of course we were), and I made a statement about not having written in a couple of weeks, but that I had been working on my outline. He then said to me, “Well that counts, doesn’t it? I mean, how many words have you added to your outline? 100? 500? That is still writing.”

And he’s right (Thanks James Mayes).
For the first time in a couple of weeks (months?) I decided to take a look at my writing on Saturday. Sure it may have started out of boredom at the time, but just as usual, once I was in the story, I was enveloped.

About two hours later, I had organized the remaining 6 chapters (12-18) that I hadn’t touched since the last “looksee”, and I had even added the next 4 chapters. I wrote their summaries and outlined which direction they were going to bring my Reeders. As I was looking back over my notes, I realized I had written about 272 words (what an odd about number). That is about 272 words more words written than I had when I had started.

Is it still creative? Yes.
Does it count in the word count? No.
Does it still count in general? Yes.

So, then I continued to think about how I write my outlines, which got me thinking about my writing process, which got me writing this blog, which untimely got you reading these words…

My Process

First: Write summary of every chapter in short phrases or in sentences.


walks home while reading — meets mom at home — goes to party later
She is walking home reading her favorite book. When she gets home, mom is there; and they talk about the party going on that night. After a small talk about her responsibilities, mom says she can go. She gets ready and goes to the party.

Why do I make it a difference? Well, to be honest, it depends on the story and how much of it I already have written in my head. If I have already played the story over and again in my head, then I don’t need full sentences, because I have “watched” the scene over and over again in my head. So I got it. I’m ready. I’m set.

On the other hand, if I am just writing the chapter on the spot–like I did with the 4 chapters this weekend–then I will write in full sentences, because it is new information that I haven’t “watched” at all save for the few moments of thought I had before writing it down.

Second: Write story

No need for an example, I think that is pretty self-explanatory.

And that’s the end of the writing process.

So, what is my reasoning for doing it this way?

Twists and turns, my Reeders, twists and turns.

The best example I have of this is my 5 novel series. There are  more twists and turns than I feel my mind can hold on to without it being written down first. Plus the time travel I’m including? Forget about it. So, I need everything outlined to make sure that I don’t miss anything before I start writing. I did that for the first novel in the series, and it worked beautifully. Just have a lot more detail to work in now…but if everything is down, it can’t be missed…

So, that is the reason I am an Outline Writer. Some are Free Write Writers. This is someone who has an idea and then just writes and builds the story as they go. That is my father and my sister. Not me.

What kind of writer are you? (If you write, of course.)

I enjoyed adding to my series this weekend, even just as an outline. It’s all coming together. Oh yeah.

Enjoy. And Reed.

7 thoughts on “Outlines or Free Write? I am an Outline Writer”

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