Yesterday, in my Writing for Children class at Marianopolis College, we discussed the pros and cons of using an outline.
One student in the class told us she never begins a term paper assignment without preparing an outline first. But she added that when she is writing fiction, she finds it easier to work sans outline.
Sorry to disappoint you, dear blog reader, but I don't have an easy answer to the question that is the title of today's blog entry: To Outline Or Not To Outline?
I say find the method that works best for you. Every writer is different and has her or his own way of working.
Here's what I like about outlines: They serve as a kind of road map -- that is they can help you figure out where your story is going. Also, sometimes working on an outline can help reduce a writer's anxiety about the writing process.
Here's the problem with outlines: Sometimes, they are too rigid, and sometimes, writers (especially those who are just getting started, like my students) stick too rigidly to an outline. One of the things I like best about writing (both non-fiction, as in my newspaper stories, as well as fiction, as in my YA novels) is that every time I sit down to write, I discover something new.... something I did not know when I got started. WRITING IS THINKING.
That being said -- I've got to go now. I'm working on an outline!!