Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Outline-Induced Narcolepsy

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. It’s a blog hop where you post about the joys and difficulties of being a writer.

I’m struggling a bit with editing my WIP. I’m a pantser by nature. I wish that I weren’t. But I have a little-understood disease called Outline-Induced Narcolepsy. It’s quite serious. As soon as I set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in an attempt to write an outline, interview characters or summarize my novel, my eyes glaze over and I pass right out, which has led to another serious condition; Qwertytis.

With my current WIP I’m using Microsoft OneNote (because I’m too cheap to buy Scrivener) to help me organize my work. I love it! Outlines bore me to tears, but I like making character profiles and town maps. I wrote out all the scene snippets that I want in the story; which is new to me. I’m usually a linear writer. I start at the beginning of the story and write in order with no idea what’s going to happen.

But oddly, being more organized hasn’t helped at all. With my last WIP I stalled out at chapter 9 because I kept re-editing the beginning and couldn’t move ahead. Guess where I’m stalled out with this one? Chapter 9. I’ve written bunches of scenes for later in the novel but nothing that will move this part of the story along. I finally had an idea, but it required a bit of re-writing to make it work. I had been trying to use MS Word’s track changes feature for anything that needed fixing so I can go back and work on it later, but this is major stuff and I sort of need to fill in the gaps to make sure it’s going to work. So now I’m writing ahead and I’m writing behind and I’m not getting any of the middle done and I’m somehow in the exact same place I was when I completely pantsed my previous WIP.

What the eff?


  1. I am also having problems with writing. I am trying to find a spot where I won't have kids, parents or people who know me interrupting my creative flow. i have observed others putting head phones on and getting down to it, but I get anxious if anything is on my ear. our article lets me know that I must continue to write, thanks.

  2. OMG, Christina, I have those same conditions (self-diagnosed)!

    I think part of your subconscious still wants to finish the first WIP, and since you stopped at chapter 9 on the first one, your mind stopped you at Chapter 9 on the new one.

    Maybe, instead of writing "those middle chapters", you can take a look at the early chapters and the later chapters and figure out what takes character "X" from points a to b. You might not end up using it, but it could help get your creativity flowing. Just a thought.

    You can DO this!

  3. Writing ahead sounds like a good idea. At least you'll know where you're trying to go. This sounds like a pretty normal writing process to me.

  4. Writing is hard and we psych ourself out all the time with writing issues. The good thing is your still writing. Keep working at it, you will figure out the connect. I am a plotter at heart. Maybe you can look at plotting at not so much a systematic outline and more of a free flowing look at the story you want to write. Use the Stephen King method. Ask your self - What happens? Then, what happens, next and next and next and next. Good luck.

  5. Just have to keep on keeping on, can be hard to block everything out sometimes indeed

  6. I didn't know that OneNote. Need to check it out. Endings are always hard for me

    1. Hi Nigel! Just like The Doctor, you hate endings, huh?

      I was researching Scrivener when I read a blog comparing OneNote to Scrivener. It's one of those little known gems that comes with most Microsoft Office suites and most people ignore it. It's essentially a digital notebook but you can link web pages to your OneNote notebook, link files for easy reference, use it to organize scenes, etc. With MS Office having features like the navigation pane and track changes it's pretty easy to get organized (but not to write, that remains just as difficult as ever).

      Here are just a few of the many posts about OneNote that will teach you about some if it's features. Its a pretty cool piece of software and it's already on most computers if they have MS Office.



  7. Didn't know about One Note. Would have to check that out thanks! And I think you should write in whatever way works for you. I actually have problems moving along too if I can't connect point A to B but sometimes I just skip ahead and write the scenes I know are supposed to happen later. Gives me something to look forward to at least. ;)

  8. Just keep writing and worry about what you need to fix later. You need to get past chapter nine!

  9. DEFEAT THE CURSE OF CHAPTER NINE!!!! No, seriously. You cannot leave me hanging here. I need to know what happens to these two crazy kids. Seriously.

    PS: You can do it!!!! :)


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