There are many benefits to creating a book outline, but before you do decide to plan it and reap those benefits – don’t outline your book…
When it comes to planning a book outline, there are two schools of thought. One is to just pants it, and it will emerge, and the other is to outline it so that it makes writing easier.
I’m a planner, and I like to make my life easier. When it comes to writing a book, I need to outline it first, and I have a tried and tested process that I adapt depending on my client’s learning type and preferences. You have to make processes work for you, not squeeze yourself into something that you will eventually reject.
So here’s my challenge don’t outline your book
Pick a book idea that has been buzzing around your head and write the first two chapters. Or write as much as you can just off the top of your head. When you have done that, look at how far you have come and what needs to happen next.
Chances are you are stuck, and nothing is flowing. But you do have a body of work which is great, or is it? I always think that nothing is wasted, so it’s good that you got it out.
Learning why you must outline your book is part of the process
Before I go on, this is very much aimed at non-fiction writers because I know a lot of fiction writers who do indeed pants their books, and it works for them. I tried it for fiction, and it doesn’t work for me. What does work, though, for fiction is to start by pantsing and then open up Snowflake and plan the rest.
When it comes to non-fiction for me, I need a timeline and to follow my process for getting it out of my head so that I look at it from many angles. I like it chunked down so that writing is easier. I also need my ideal reader profile in the front of my mind.
How did the don’t outline your book writing fest go?
I am curious to know how writing your book without an outline went. Did you write what you expected, and are you pleased with it? Do you know where it is going next and who will enjoy reading it?
So. the smartypants ones among you for who this worked, I am pleased because now you have a first draft that you can edit and bring alive so that it fulfils its purpose. You probably will edit it quite a bit once you have done your research and identified your ideal reader. But it is easier now that I have a body of work to edit.
For everyone else who tried to pants it and ended up lost and with no hair, please outline your book before you go any further.
The benefits of a book outline
- You will write faster because a book outline saves time. There’s no second-guessing what is coming next
- You will stay on track because you have visible milestones to reach
- It will focus your attention
- You have a better understanding of what you are writing and why because you will have thought this through
- You have a sense of direction and flow
- You will feel motivated and inspired as you see it come alive. There’s nothing quite like seeing your book come alive
- It supports your research. As part of the planning process, you will have done a knowledge audit and identified what gaps need researching. It’s now easy to see where the gaps are
- Writer’s block should elude you because the roadmap ahead has been planned out
- It allows flow and creativity as your ideas are already out and waiting to be fertilized
- You won’t go off on too many tangents (one of my problems) because you now have a clear structure to work with
- You will have a better book because you will have thought through the process and what outcome you want in each chapter, and when your reader reaches the end
- There is an endpoint. You will have made a clear decision about where this book ends, and another may start.
You can still be spontaneous and change your mind. You simply amend the outline and reflow everything. And finally, in case you didn’t know everyone outlines, even the
Book a Power Hour, and let’s explore.