Although I love to write, I could never teach a writing class. Even when I home schooled my children, I sent them off to creative writing classes instead of teaching them myself. I did follow the guidelines in their grammar books and forced my way through the chapters on outlining and the writing process that everyone should learn. I believe everyone should know how to use a topic sentence and know how to write a proper paragraph. It’s the planning process that I disagree with. It’s not wrong. It’s just not for everyone.
I’ve always had a problem with outlining and planning, even in my early school years. Most recently, my husband got me to realize how much I truly hate the process, as we are complete opposites in our personality, and bless his little heart, he tried to help me when I started writing Unexpected Metamorphosis. It did not end well for him.
I still remember that night perfectly. I was telling him my ideas for the story and where I was taking the main characters. (It was more of a moment where he was supposed to listen and not try to fix anything, but he noticed I was not following the “proper” process and felt that he needed to help with that.) As I was rambling on while trying to get the story placed properly in my mind, he pulled out his laptop, pen, and paper. It seems he had taken an interest in my writing and had read articles online about how to write, and I was not following any of the steps (NONE). He needed to fix that because, surely, that would make my writing and life better.
The moment he started talking about outlines and the planning process, I openly cringed, and he lost me. I did not want to hear about it or even talk about it. An organized planning process stifles and suffocates me (as do most lists of rules). My poor husband took my distaste personally, and that is how the night ended. He has not offered to help me again when it comes to how I write, and I believe he is one step closer in understanding my random personality. (He’ll never truly understand.)
After reading the comments on a post about outlining, I now realize I’m in the minority (as usual with how I do things) when it comes to writing. Most authors depend on outlines to keep their stories from getting away from them. That’s the opposite of how I think. I let the characters take me to new places I had not planned. In fact, I did not plan most of the scenes between Alissia, Grady, and Luke. I did not even come up with Luke until the night I started typing about him. If I had outlined my story ahead of time, I doubt one of the main characters would have come into the story. I did not have a clear plan when I created Luke, but he soon took center stage in the story. (He does seem to have that strong personality.)
If you are an author reading this post, I’m curious to know what writing process you choose to follow. Does the mere thought of an outline scare you, or are you a strict follower of the use of an outline?