Writing Tip #2: Use Outlines

For writing long projects, outlines are key. I don’t care who tells you otherwise. People who pretend to write by the seat of their pants—they have the audacity to call themselves “pantsers”—are liars and fools.

I know this from experience. For years before I developed a robust writing habit, I tried unsuccessfully to write long projects. I always flamed out around page 4, finally having outrun my little idea. Tired, panting, peckish, I abandoned those poor little project stubs for good.

It’s only when you know where you’re going that you can get anywhere. You usually end up going somewhere entirely different than you planned, but that’s fine! If you have a map, even a completely faulty one, you are less likely to just sit down and wait for rescue. Even a bad map will get you a little further from home than that.

So this is my nugget of very helpful advice: start with an outline. Feel out what the beginning, middle, and end of your story might be. Then, braid on details from there. [Redacted] [Redacted] And there you are! You’re all done, with a masterful, complete, final, unimpeachable, beloved, groundbreaking, astonishing, mouthwatering, award-winning, enduring, delectable final product. Great work.

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