Is the Dreaded Outline Really All That Bad?

Today, I’m going to discuss one of the most controversial topics in the writing world: to outline or not to outline? Note – this isn’t going to be an “I outline and you should too or your writing stinks!” post. The whole idea that just one method works for every writer is ridiculous. All I’m going to do is share with you some of the benefits of outlining in case they can benefit you the same way they did me.


How the Outline Improved My Writing Life

First, I want to share why I’m talking about this in the first place. For some of us, writing is an escape, a way to use catharsis, and for some of us, it’s one of the few good things we have. There have been times where the only thing I had the motivation to do was write – hence my crazy 50k week. June came and I began to edit hopelessly. Nothing was working. I had good characters, but my plot was falling apart. I tried to rewrite in July and that’s when I quit writing.

Or so I thought.

Thanks to a pep talk from the amazing Chloe, I decided writing was worth persevering through the darkest days. I started to learn more about writing than I ever had before, and that’s when I realized in-depth outlining could help me. So, now I’m going to tell you some of the many advantages outlining has to give.

1. It Will Keep Your Drafts at a Good Length

Many writers complain about either drafting books that are too short or too long. If you have an outline, you can prepare yourself in advance by asking: how many scenes do I need to make my book longer? Is this sub-plot really necessary? What can I brainstorm to fill this plot hole and boost my word count?

2. It Will Improve Your Speed

I’ve met many writers who fail to achieve their goals simply because they’ve been fed the false narrative that art should be created in a flurry of inspired passion, that laying out careful plans for crafting stories will only result in boring, unoriginal work…. Making a game plan for success won’t suck the magic out of your writing process, but rather help you avoid as many road blocks and hangups as possible throughout your NaNoWriMo experience.

Thousands, if not more, are currently participating in NaNoWriMo, the epic challenge to write a book in a month.  The writing community, support, and countless writing blog posts are awesome, but the hard part is getting that 50k. If you’re trying to make up your plot while making up your prose at the same time, it’s going to slow down your writing and lessen the quality. The ability to see where going is a huge help if you’re not writing fast enough. Just be careful you’re not letting yourself slip into the endless race of trying to have the fastest writing speed – one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a writer.

3. It Will Reduce Edits

If you’ve ever pantsed a novel, you know your drafts come out messy – and that’s an understatement. I’ve given up on entire novels only because of the state of the first draft. Outlining to get the plot the way you want lowers the chances of having to do rewrites. Cringe. One of my favorite outlining activities is brainstorming anything I can think of – then doing it all over again. This lets you get rid of all the bad ideas that won’t work before you waste time writing them out.

The All-Important Question: Should You Be a Planner or Panster?

What I don’t believe anymore is that there is actually such a thing as a “plotter” or a “pantser.” Even though writers certainly fall into general categories of right- or left-brain approaches to the writing process, we’re only distracting ourselves from true productivity with this idea that every writer must be either a plotter or a pantser.

There aren’t really two types of writers. There are just writers. Get out of your comfort zone. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever used an outline? Do you prefer to plan things out, or make them up as you go along? Are you an “I’m just gonna wing it” person in general? I know I am. In general, is it better to have a routine or be flexible?


Four Ways You Can Waste Time Productively

Most days, you can find me procrastinating everything. Correction: all days. In addition my quite unhealthy procrastination habit there have been many Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings spent waiting doing nothing at my younger brothers’ baseball/football practice/game. So, I figured I should find a way to use this wasted time productively, use those as excuses to procrastinate, and share them with you all. Seriously tho teaching others is scientifically proven to be the best method to teach yourself but we’re going to pretend I already knew all this.


1. Make Lists

This might be a me thing, but making lists is super encouraging! Having everything you need to get done right in front of you simplifies it and it’s SO. SATISFYING. I like to use Wunderlist and 30/30 to digitally write them, or you can be all fancy and use paper if you’re good at drawing and want to do cool doodle-y things. Unlike me – I can barely draw stick figures.

2. Pinterest

“Pinterest isn’t productive! It’s a black hole of destruction!” Well, it’s productive now because I say so. Especially if you’re a writer or blogger, there are tons of things on Pinterest for you to do aside from looking at memes. Yup. Judging you. For example: creating boards for your WIP, sharing your blog posts, and researching things. You guys take it from here that’s all I ever do.

3. Do Something With Your Hands

When all you want to do is watch TV and you proceed to watch it for twelve hours or whatever unreasonable hour,  you’re left unmotivated and tired. If you can handle the split focus, try doing something creative while watching. Simple artistic tasks such as knitting (join the #oldladysquad!) or making ATCs will put you in a productive mindset while letting you relax.

4. Learn Something Not Required of You

Learning for a grade is stressful. Learning simply because you wanna is powerful. Khan Academy is a great place to watch educational videos, and it has an app so you can download for offline watching. Their rewards system is also pretty awesome. You don’t get anything cool, but watching your “energy points” stack up makes it feel official. Reading a non-fiction book is also a nice way to relax and learn something new. Other options include going back to point two and Pinteresting your life away, getting ahead in homework even when it’s not due yet and/or debating the necessity of the Oxford comma. (See what I did there?)

Something I’ve learned recently is that if you can’t do something and keep trying to force yourself to do it, you’re only going to waste time because you’ve spent hours and haven’t completed anything. Instead, reach for a smaller goal you know you can accomplish or is just plain fun to make you feel productive, then come tackle the big scary monster.

What methods do you use to procrastinate? What methods do you use to procrastinate well? Do you procrastinate or do you get stuff done? I think I’m procrastinating the end of this post by using the word “procrastinate” over and over. 

Welcome to Starlight and Sunshine!

I’m just going to freak out for a minute because I’m SO. EXCITED. Today, I get to introduce to you Starlight and Sunshine!


Why Did I Switch Blogs?

For four years, I had Josie on the Go, which was basically whatever I wanted it to be at the time. During my break over the summer, I realized that blog was kinda a just-for-fun learning experience. Now, I’m ready to get more serious and making blogging a priority.

Now, I have Starlight and Sunshine! I chose the name because I adore light and the sky: bathing in sunlight, or staring at the amazing cosmos God created. I’m going to be posting about lessons I’m learning in life, my faith, my writing journey, my musical adventures, and all those random lifestyle topics but rest assured they will be awesome all the same.

Posts and Shoutouts

  • Check out the interview post amazing friend Madi did with me here!
  • Chloe and I had a ton off fun interviewing our characters about if they had blogs here!
  • Thanks so much to Clara, who helped me so much with my design over chat and with the blog design series she and Megan created.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I can’t wait to start posting and connecting with everyone again.