How to make peace with outlining your novel?

Thing is: it is sooooooooooooooo slow. Getting it right takes time. Loads of it.

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This current work in progress is a challenge.

I chose to get outside my comfort story zone, in order to better my writing process.

And boy, do I hope all that hard work will improve things.

The Rejected Novel

I am currently working on the 5th outline. Yep, I wrote five outlines for this novel. I used to hate that writing process.

Now, I made peace with it. Mostly because my last finished novel was, again, rejected.

Again.

You guessed it: I did not outline the rejected novel.

Re-reading the rejected novel, which I wrote a year ago, I understand why it got rejected. It misses some chore action beats, there are 4 chapters that don’t belong there and the main character is very problematic.

The Power of the Outline

I want to do everything in my power to get my current work in progress somewhere. It is a fun idea, a chilling mystery for middle-graders I am having so much fun to write.

Well, almost…

In order to nail every details, to embrace every beat on the freaking sheet, I am going out of my usual writing ways.

It is very thought BUT the story improved so much from the first outline to the present 5th outline, characters and plot-wise anyway.

On the writing side, sentences are more to the point, more active.

Thing is: it is sooooooooooooooo slow. Getting it right takes time. Loads of it.

Thing also is: it feels like I am working on a school essay.

This 5th super detailed outline I am currently working on, based on many outlining techniques (links down below), is more to make extra sure I got everything right. According to all those « helping writers » blog post I read anyway.

Making peace with outlining

Forcing myself into an novel outlining process was very humbling.

I happen to be a content writer, and I know a thing or two about the gig, to say the least.

When I put my stories thought a set outline or a beat sheet, I can see the weakness’s way more clearly. I know what to change, how to tweak this, why it is so important to delete those 10 000 words (*sigh*).

I came up with my own outline structure at the end, very much based on my favorite outlining methods:

Katytastic has been on the YouTube and Blog Univers for a while. That method is very inspiring.

Savannah Gilbo is presenting the famous Save the Cat beat sheet for novels. Keep in mind thought, Save the Cat is for screenplays!

I found it very interesting to put through my story to this  »How to plot a Novel » method by Bryn Donovan.

I hope this helps a little.

Until next time!

How to Master the Writing Routine

The Muse is super fun to hang out with, but since she has many places to be…

For years, I would only write at night, after school. Then, I would only write in the early morning, before work.

After my baby finally started to sleep through the night, at 15 months (if you are curious, that’s sums up to 450 nights of 3-4 hours of sleep; yes, I know I was lucky.), I needed a new, well, everything. Including a writing routine.

The snowstorm of writing routines

As I am writing, well within March, dear Mother Nature unleashed yet another snowstorm. The snowflakes are big and fluffy. From my wanna-be office window, I cannot see the small frozen lake anymore; I can barely see the houses on the street parallel to us.

Lost within the snowstorm of tips, hacks, methods and what’s more, the keys for establishing a good writing routine.

I stumbled upon so many sh**** ideas, oh dear Calliope and sisters! I even found one fellow giver of tips&tricks with a what-number steps for a magic writing routine.

Heck yeah, I listened to what that person had to say, but, yeah no, I couldn’t go through with the meditation and « say hi to the sun » part.

Writing routine : the gathering

I ended gathering the most relevant, for me anyway, tips & tricks on how to establish a good writing routine.

That means I came up with a mix of Common Sense, guilt-free tips and effective tricks to master the writing routine.

  • Forget the Muse

Feeling inspired is great, but it is NOT going to help you write, yet finish, a novel.

Sit your butt down, put glue on the chair if you have to, and write (that’s from an francophone author who wrote more then a 100 kids novels; proven tip if there was ever one).

  • Set realistic writing goals.

Of course, you can write a book in 10 days, 30 days, 3 months… although the quality of the end result may vary.

Better be realistic when it comes to writing goals and set for ourselves easily attainable writing goals.

500 words a day, 5 days&nights a week is how I started. Once the routine was established, I soon revised increase the word count goal, but not up to a point where I would feel guilty to not have been able to reach the said goal one day.

100 words a day, 5 days a week could also be an excellent start to master the writing routine.

  • Reward yourself at the beginning of your new writing routine.

Many trustworthy authors and bloggers give that tip. It is a fun and effective way to make any new routine work.

After a while (I read it takes 17 to 21 days to form a new habit, but this is NOT a writing routine deadline of some sort) the new writing routine should start to feel like a part of yourself.

  • A writing routine should always go with your flow.

Translation: Writer, know thyself.

If you early riser, work with that. If you can’t muster the energy to write at night, don’t. The important thing is, while not being a total dictator toward yourself, to stick to your writing goal at the beginning, whether you’re feeling like writing or not.

  • Stick to your goals… and to happy writer face

Writing should be enjoyable, it should be fun. Writing should make you happy.

It is a lot of hard work, of course, but still, if you cannot enjoy it, why bother?

The ones who helped me master the writing routine

From a fun place I found thought the best place for writers, Pinterest: https://www.well-storied.com/blog/11-tips-for-creating-writing-routine

Super useful and to the point tips. No magic nor miracles there, just good old Common Sense: http://www.savannahgilbo.com/10-tips-creating-writing-routine/h

This one helped me de-stress about the whole writing routine game, which at first seemed like a bigger deal then having to plan a wedding (at this point, I swear, I am getting married in my pj’s and we’ll have bbq chicken with the fridging champagne): https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/4-writing-routine-myths-that-kill-creativity

I hope those tested writing routine tips will help you out. They certainly helped me!

How to write a novel ​: 3 tested tips to get things started

Here’s 3 tips that served me well over the years, and some bonus thoughts on this « how to write »!

Beside from sitting your bum on chair and, you know, write.

Not long ago, a friend asked me for some help. She wanted to write a novel but honestly didn’t know where to start.

She had not so much of an idea, but she knew what kind of book she wanted to write.

Even though I have been writing for more than twenty years, I had to think things through before answering. 

How do I start writing a novel again?

Please welcome the great, the marvellous, the incredible Ideas!

Well, the first thing you need when you want to write a novel is an idea. There’s really no way around it.

You need a character that goes on a quest to obtain something essential to her/his life or else.

Where to find ideas then?

Here are 5 tips on how to find ideas for a novel, that served me oh so very well over the years.

I got those tested tips from the creative writing class I use to take, as well as from authors interviews, channels or books.

Tip #1 : Read the newspapers

An actual paper newspapers. It is FULL of sparkling ideas, I promise.

Read the headlines for sure, but take the time to read all those little articles about the local news, or the local news in other countries. What I like the most is the political crisis in little countries or this old law that just got overruled (mostly laws about the proper use of horses).

That being said, I more than often much more weird, disturbing, sad news, perfect to start a thriller or a mystery novel for example.

In French, we have a say: la réalité dépasse la fiction. Meaning that reality is, very often, less believable than fiction.

The newspapers holds many proofs of that.

Tip #2: Take public transport

You will help decrease pollution worldwide AND you will be able to study other humans in their natural habitat. Plus, you can do some very inspiring ears dropping.

It’s crazy how a spectacular outfit, a burst of peculiar laughter, an incredible amount of egg shapes freckles covering the entire face of a beautiful person (true story, the impossible green of her eyes still haunts my writer dreams), can spark the creative flow.

Who’s behind that rainbow tailor suit; why is that person talking about quantum physics in Russian on his/her phone at 7 in the morning; geez, I really didn’t need to know about that young woman gynecologist appointement (true story).

Tip #3: Get out

I mean it.

Take a walk, a normal, no counting how steps you’ve taken or how many calories you’ve burned walk. And take that opportunity to leave stress behind.

Better yet, get out there. Travel. Meet new people, taste new things. No need to break the bank. A little imagination goes a long way

Still, the best way to travel for free is: read books.

When in doubt, go to the library

Novels can transport you through time and space. You can hear different voices, you get to be confronted by different realities.

To read novels is to travel far beyond our own prejudices, beyond the walls we built in our heads, beyond what we thought was true.

Ideas live in books. And in a library, they are many, many books.

I will now digress a little, if I may, and share opinions. Disclosure: I mean no disrespect to anyone. I do mean to bash or put to shame anyone either.

I am hopeful that your public library buys books from every author in the World, and does not censure anything, even the crap I know think is pollution both for the mind and the environment.
Because we all have the right to read whatever the frex we want, as long as it doesn’t make one a complete psychopath-racist-shallow jerk (ends all those crappy books I wish were not published).

Anyway.

It goes without saying. To write a novel, you need to read novels…. Or so I thought.

Depressingly enough, some people will argue that they can write a book, since they play video games and watch movies and tv series.

Oh my dearfrexing Gosh.

No no.

No no no.

To write a novel, you NEED to read novels. End of the discussion. See you at the library!

Sources

Here are some people whom might be able to help you too!

Very good one from Amina’s blog, of Numawork Creatives.

Writers Digest gets you started with basic stuff.

A Well Told Story is coming at you with her usual great tips to get writing.

So many tools you can use to help you along your writing journey. I like the ones from Writers helping writers, but there is many more.

One of my favorites author helping others, Paula, helps you with the dreaded first chapter.

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