I’m not afraid of mice or snakes. I’m not timid about eating at restaurants alone or going to the movies by myself. I can come through a public speaking experience relatively intact, and I can face a tornado or a raging editor with aplomb. But there is one thing that scares me to death – writing without an outline.
“Outline” is a two-syllable swear word for many people, but to me that word means security. Direction. A beacon in the night. Even if I deviate from it, which I almost always do, my safety net comforts me. When I have one in place, I know I will never become totally lost in a morass of random words. Whatever happens in the course of my story, I can always go back to my outline and find my way home.
To me, not using an outline is like shooting an arrow into the air and hoping it hits some target somewhere. Flying blind through the fog, hoping to find an airport. That being said, outlines give me security but they don’t give me freedom. I envy those free spirits who can go wherever their creative powers take them and end up with a magnificent, well-written piece of work. That is something that I cannot do, it’s simply not in my nature. Having an outline is as important to me as it is for other people not to be limited by one.
So, give me my outlines, no matter how far away I might wander from them! And don’t make fun of me or pity me, I just can’t help it. It’s in my DNA.