I recently attended a local writers meeting and I was asked if I outline. A few years ago, my answer would have been a definite no. When I started writing, I had no idea how to go about doing it, so I just wrote. I definitely started out as a seat-of-the-pants writer. The story was in me, and it just gushed forth onto the page. There is a great freedom in that—a feeling of euphoria as the words fills up the screen—along with a sense of accomplishment. Of course, the first couple of book I wrote are still sitting on my hard drive waiting for a massive rewrite.
Over the years, my process has changed. I spend much more time researching, world building, and with character development. Now, when I’m asked about outlining, my answer is not so quick in coming. I don’t think my process is technically outlining, but it is much more formal than it used to be. Still, to be completely honest, I don’t truly outline. Even though I have a more formal story building process now, I prefer to keep my outline in my head.
I sometimes wonder if all the changes in my writing process are for the better. Yes, I think my writing is much better than in the early days, but the process is not as much fun. I don’t spew forth words liked I used to. They come out measured and controlled, even on the first draft. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure it is, and I have been thinking about ways to regain that first draft writing frenzy.
Going back to my title, if outlining is for control freaks, then I’ve slipped closer to that camp without even realizing it. So how do I regain the first draft fun frenzy? The phrase “chill out dude” comes to mind. Can you tell I lived in California?