Can I write a book without outlining so I can stay in creative flow, is a common question from authors, here’s my answer.
Each Friday on my daily podcast for authors Your Daily Writing Habit is “FAQs Friday,” where I answer a question about writing a book. Sometimes the question comes from my Ink Authors group on Facebook, sometimes through my website, or a social media DM.
Here is a recent question I received:
“I’m just starting to write my book and I’m struggling to find the balance between outlining my chapters but still leaving space for creative flow. My instinct tells me to just let go and write without worrying too much about planning each chapter. But then for some of the heavier chapters, I find myself getting lost and writing myself into corners. Where’s the balance of organization and flow?”
Great question! And you’re right that balance is the key word here. I have a new favorite analogy about this. Think of writing a book like going out for a peaceful, leisurely swim in the ocean, assuming you find a swim in the ocean peaceful and leisurely. If you’re like me, and it’s not – pretend.
You wade into the calm blue waters and set out swimming, sun warming you from overhead. Everything’s going really well, you’re swimming with confidence and know where you’re going, to that island up ahead in the short distance. You don’t have a specific plan because you don’t need one – you can clearly see your destination.
But then, suddenly, you lose your bearings. You lose sight of the island, you get turned around and now you don’t know what the heck you’re swimming toward! You start to panic, grasping at the water. If only you had a moment to regroup, get your bearings, and reorient to your destination so you can resume your swim. But you don’t have a regrouping checkpoint. So you drown.
Bullet Point Buoys
If the island is your book and swimming is writing it, even simple bullet points that you scribble down before diving in and writing a chapter can act as buoys. Regrouping checkpoints to grab onto when you get lost in your writing. A way to reorient yourself to your book writing “why” and visions so you can take a breath, regain your confidence, and keep going. As a personal writing coach, I call them – bullet point buoys.
Now you’ll still have the freedom to swim freely toward book island, improvising along the way, and enjoying the ride. But if you do get lost, you’ll have your bullet point buoys along the way to make sure you don’t drown in the confusion of writing.
Swim on, authors, hopefully toward a solid lifelong writing habit!
Are you asking the same question, some variation of “can I write a book?” Or, maybe you are already writing a book but you’re not clear on the way to “published book island” and find yourself swimming circles. My author Coaching Program includes my proven (via dozens of published books with more coming out this year!) Book Blueprint development process. My Book Blueprint creates clarity on what your book is about and a step-by-step plan of action to write it. Learn more in your free one-on-one consultation with me!