I had an interesting experience last night. First off, my wife has started transcribing all her old journals...which she has kept since she was in elementary school...consistently. So, the computer has been somewhat monopolized of late, which means I'm doing any and all writing (or writing-related activities) by hand, on honest-to-goodness paper with a real ink pen. I feel like I'm a kid again! It's actually been really fun listening to my wife laugh at her past self, and I've even enjoyed writing by hand again, but that's not what I'm here to talk about today.
I've never really gotten the hang of outlining. I realize that it is a powerful authoring tool, but I've always shied away from it because I didn't want to spoil the ending for myself. I've always been afraid that if I already knew what was going to happen in a story, I'd have no more motivation or desire to write it. However, my current WIP has not been cooperating...not for weeks. It is as hard as hickory knots! So last night, in an effort finally vanquish this irksome problem, I sat down with my paper and clipboard and started drafting a general outline. I actually got the idea from Teralyn's recent series of posts "How to Prep for a Book" (specifically posts #3,4).
I decided that I needed to get at least the basic framework down on paper so I'd have a sort of road map when I get stuck (which is happening all too frequently and regularly). I've been telling myself that knowing the basic plot line shouldn't ruin things for me because 1) I'm older and more mature than I was the last time I tried outlining a story (it has literally been six or seven years and I've changed a lot since then), and 2) I can still look forward to seeing how my characters react to each other and events! This is what I'm really excited about now.
All the same, if my pseudo-outlining idea doesn't improve things with my WIP, I think I might let it rest and germinate for a while. I've got three or four other ideas that I'm also really excited about, so I won't be wanting for something to write.
How about you guys? For all you fellow pantsers out there, why don't you like outlining? And what do you do when your story just won't come out? For all you outliners (whom I confess I envy a little), what motivates you to write when you already know the story? And for everybody: how do you know when it's okay to throw in the towel, even for a little while?
I look forward to hearing from all of you!