Going Camping? Map Vs Mapless

There are three camps in writing: writers who are outliners and writers who are pantsers (writers who write by seat by their pants).  Then there are writers like me that want the best of both camps. For years, I have tried to fit into both camps, and every time I was less than successful in major ways. I felt I had to have the rigidness of the outline as well as the freedom of free writing.

My girlfriend recently pointed out that I write better when I free write – no outline, no word count — nothing. Just get my butt in the chair, fingers on keyboard, and type.  I agree with her but only to a point. I often find myself in a dilemma because without an outline, the degree of my tangents soar is extremely high. See, I know my mind tends to want to follow many tangents – both reasonable and unreasonable ones. Without an outline my mind tends to do its own thing but not to the severity as without an outline.

Over the course of time, I have come to realize that every writer has their own method of writing. No one way is right; nor is one way wrong. I have also learned that it is better to be a non-conformist then to try to fit into a group that isn’t right for me.

I have finally learned “my style” of writing. I feel my writing has started to gel faster since I have given up trying to do things like everyone else does them.  Yes, I know that agents and editors require outlines but for now, writing then outlining is working a lot better for me so that is how I will be getting the job done. When I am done writing, I will do a macro-outline for my agent and publisher.

By finding “my style” of writing, I am a lot less stressed and the amount of time I spend worrying has decreased. Also, I am getting a lot more writing accomplished. I feel a lot better about myself and my chosen profession now.

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One response to “Going Camping? Map Vs Mapless

  1. Hi Wade,

    Regarding outlines … I do technical writing at work, including technical proposals and white papers to the government, specifications, system descriptions and other types of reports. Although a lot of my peers prefer to work without the constraints of an outline, I always use them to help discipline the writing for three reasons: 1) these documents generally need to convey a set of specific messages, and the best way to ensure they’re done well is by mapping them to an outline; 2) usually a team contributes to the writing, and integrating the final product can be a nightmare if the writing isn’t organized up front – once again, an outline works here; 3) we always write to a strict deadline, and the outline helps break up the work for managing the schedule. Not all of my peers agree with this approach, by the way. Even some engineers are free spirits, it turns out. 🙂

    I haven’t ever written any non-fiction. I’d like to someday, and have given it some thought, but I just don’t seem to have anything to say.

    Love you, Uncle Fred

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