Outlining…It’s Not Just For Academic Writing

As some of you may know, I’m a long-standing member of the pantster party. In the past, I’ve had a general idea of where the story would go and let it try to get there. Even as I progressed through two writing programs I was firmly pantster with a hint of plotter. Over time that has changed to the point where I’m more 50-50. 

When planning for blog posts, I am all about writing things out, trying to figure out my tags and categories and the picture that will accompany it. Even when I’m writing poetry, I am constantly scribbling and tinkering until I think it’s just right. But it took me the longest time to accept how beneficial planning would be when writing fiction.

One of the things that I’ve been toying with while prepping for the new story I’m tackling is outlining. I know, I know…outlining is for academic writing. And it seems like so much work but I’ve found that it is really helping me develop my main ideas(and subplots) for the story. 

Let me explain, by outlining I don’t mean the way that we’ve been taught to do it when writing papers. What I’ve been doing is selecting maybe 10-15 major occurrences/plot points that I know need to take place. I then briefly sketch out each one and below that list, I add some subplot/minor character information that will help build certain elements of the story. I also not down little setting notes that may help me set scenes. 

Doing this is changing the way that I plan but it also helps me commit to getting a set amount of scenes and words per day. Later on this month, I’ll be trying to get out of the house once a day to write and I think this method will help me remain focused. 

Do any of you outline? Or plan your writing? How? Please share. 


Another NaNoWriMo Letdown

It’s official, I think I’m giving up on NaNoWriMo. Last year I attempted to come back after an epic meltdown in 2015 and a failure to compete in 2016. I had most of the story planned out and knew all of the major moments that would take place but…I just wasn’t interested in the characters. And some random person popped up and she threw the entire story off. All the way off! 

So as a way of still working during November, I went back to a story I’d started and shared with you before. Only to not have anywhere to go because I’d been focusing on the other story for quite a bit. Suffice it to say, I was a bit upset by this turnaround especially since I started out so well. 

In the intervening months, I had to think about whether it’s worth it for me to continue setting myself up for failure. And last week I decided that it wasn’t. I don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo in order to be a productive writer or to complete any of my novels. 

As of now, I am over NaNoWriMo and I’m okay with that. 

When Planning Fails



Every year, my blogging plans are really basic. They are to blog every week each month. This year, I wanted to do that and to provide some new posts that would be interesting and give you an update on what’s been going on in my world. Well, as the above quote implies…

I don’t really have any logical explanation for not blogging. Although I have been planning several different things in addition to teaching a full load at this point, I still have time to post. In December, I even created a list of my first six blog posts for this month. What I have failed to do is plan beyond that. I only had that list. I usually plan out my posts, try to start typing them up and to get them edited before they’re posted. I have failed to do that and I will be working on getting back on track with my batch blogging this week.

I typically post at least three to four times a month and I realized last night that I have only posted once this month. That’s a terrible precedent to set for the first month of the new year and I plan to do better. In order to make up for those missed posts, I will be posting at least three times over the next week or so.

I hope that you are all doing significantly better on your goals that I am.


NaNoWriMo Update #1


It’s officially November and I’ve been working on this year’s NaNoWriMo project. Today, I just wanted to give a little mini update of how everything has been progressing so far. This is the least planned out writing that I have done in the past ten years (fiction wise). My characters and settings are all over the place and I really have no excuse since these are characters that appear in another story.

By day three of NaNoWriMo, I realized that I might never make it. I did great on the first day and okay on the second but on the third night it took me until well after midnight to get the required word count for the day. Day four was amazing, I made my word count a little before midnight. However, day five was interrupted by my decision to finally dig into Stranger Things so I only wrote 495 words and will be trying to catch up this week.

I have been writing on my laptop and will probably port everything into Scrivener on the last day of November.

I also can already tell that this will be the crappiest, least organized draft that I have ever written.  I will be giving another update later on this month but I hope that the month and the writing is going better for all of you.


Scrivener ?



This is the first NaNoWriMo that I will be writing where I have Scrivener. Unfortunately, I have not used it at all, since the month that I purchased it. So, I’m a bit reluctant to try using the software in November because of that. However, I wanted to try to devote at least two to three days next week to it before I make a final decision. I wanted Scrivener so bad and this would be the perfect time to use it.

I have also decided that I want to write my project on my desktop computer which will make it easier to save (since my laptop has virtually no memory) and to use Scrivener. But on the lazy days where I just want to nap, I know that will be difficult. As a way to combat that, I am going to try to develop and stick to a writing schedule/routine that is earlier in the day around 6-8 pm where I can get my writing completed before I get distracted by the TV or things around the house. That time will also allow me to take a nap after work and still cook dinner and get settled to write.

One of the things that I really love about Scrivener is that I can import notes and scenes that I’ve already written. I also noticed that there are sections for settings and characters. Since the story that I’m planning on working on will be changing to a fictional town in Virginia I am really excited about giving those components a try and having all of my information in one place.

Has anyone here successfully used Scrivener for any of their writing projects? How was it? Do you have any tips or recommendations?


Writing Spaces



I have two places devoted to writing: the desk in my office and my secretary which is tucked in a corner of the living room. They’re both awesome although I wanted a secretary for long after I had the desk.

Both spaces ideally also serve as the places where I grade and come up with lesson plans.  However, both places are completely cluttered and I haven’t worked at either of them in at least six months.  One of my goals for this weekend, in addition to catching up on my grading, is to completely clear off one of my writing spaces.

It will most likely be the desk in my office because that one is the most cluttered. Although that desk is in a room, I don’t have enough space to store everything that I need so a lot of it just sits on top of my desk that includes papers from past classes that I’ve taught and taken. The top of the desk also has my wireless keyboard, stapler, tape dispenser, coasters, wireless mouse, pens, hand sanitizer, desk lamp and a mouse pad. In addition to a headset, webcam (still in its package), and a 4 port USB hub (also still in its package). I also have a stack of three letter trays sitting on the corner of the desk that I was supposed to be spray painting this summer.

I only used the desk sporadically and completed two degrees without ever touching it. I began to use it in 2012 and have worked to sit at at it and work at it since then but I often do most of my writing and grading in my bed or in a chair.

The office desk is an old, metal, brown clunker that I have had since at least 2004 that was liberated from a junk pile. I love this desk, in part, because it was free but also because it’s a solid piece of furniture that is almost my ideal desk. The only thing missing is a long drawer to store my pens and things right under the opening. But I’ve fixed that by inserting an organizer to store those supplies in the top drawer. Although I initially loved the color I am now thinking of painting it. But first, I have to clean it off so that I can use it.



Another Preptober



Okay, so I am gearing up once again to take part in NaNo. It took me quite a while to decide that I would give NaNoWriMo a go again this year. Once I had, I immediately knew which story I wanted to try to complete this year although I’m not certain that it needs 50,000 words. It is a sub-story from one of my previous projects and I decided that these two amazing characters needed to have a story of their own. It’s a friends to lovers tale and they are extremely entertaining so as part of my prepping and planning I am working on the elements and backstory of their friendship.  So today I wanted to share two major things that I am tackling as I work this Preptober.


All the Creative Stuff

One of my favorite things about writing (aside from creating the story) is creating interesting characters and their worlds. This year, I am behind in my creative process but I plan to be prepared by November 1st. Part of that, is doing all the little things that enable me to feel as if I have well-developed characters, a firm idea of the setting and the plot.

Worksheets are one of my major prepping tools. I use them to work out the character, my storyboard, and setting/character’s homes.  This year, I am using sheets that will help me figure out the opening scene as well as the ending. I am in the very beginning stages of completing those sheets but it’s important that I take the time to complete them. They are great resources for me to look back on if I get stuck.


Plotting Pantster

When I first started writing, I was a definite pantster. But the more that I write I find that I need the structure of the plot. That’s where my trusty storyboard sheets come in. I use these to highlight the major parts of the story and sometimes I will put little notes underneath so that I don’t forget the scenes that I want to include in each chapter. This year, I have also taken the time to highlight some of the major scenes that will take place. I am going to add those to my official NaNoWriMo notebook and I will be referring to them as I work on writing.

Are any of you planning to take on NaNoWriMo this year? If so, please share some of your tips and plans for winning.