Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

Writing Methods: Outlining Vs. Pantsing

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This is part one of a series about different writing methods. I will share different approaches you can try to unlock your creativity. This week I will talk about outlining versus pantsing.

Creativity is a fickle thing. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Many times, each project uses a different method. Experimenting is the best way to figure out what will work best for you and each of your projects.

Outlining

Plot

This is the best-known writing method. When most people think of outlines they remember the detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph plan we had to turn in for research papers in school. The truth is, outlining can be as comprehensive or as sparse as you want it to be.

Some writers describe every scene in detail from the beginning through the end in a scene list. Others put these scene descriptions into a table that tracks the point of view, characters, timeline, and word count for each scene. Still, others fill out all the major plot points in a beat sheet, while some know only the beginning and end before they start writing.

For an example of a beat sheet, read Save the Cat or Save the Cat Writes a Novel. You can also use any number of beat sheets available online. A beat is a plot point. There are various methods and numbers of beats you could choose to plan. Some beat sheets calculate the approximate page number where something should happen depending on the target word count of the project.

Shop around and see if you can find a beat sheet or outlining method that might work for you.

Character

So far, I have mentioned outlining methods that focus on planning out the plot. Some writers sketch out their characters in addition to, or instead of outlining plots. There are many techniques for building characters.

For example, [Read More]

Posted in Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing

How To Get Your Creativity Back On Track

Creativity: A lightbulb, two pencils and an eraser on a blank page
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A lot of people in the writing-focused Facebook groups I am in have mentioned they’re depressed and don’t feel like writing. One of the most common questions asked is, “How can I get my creativity back on track?”

What I have found is the advice one person gives doesn’t always work for someone else. You must try many different things to find what works for you.

Here is a list of different tactics you can try to get your creativity back on track:

  • Take a walk, exercise, go outdoors, or run errands. Movement can help spark your creativity.

Exercise can help your creativity

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  • Take a hiatus. Take as long as you need. A hiatus can last from a few hours to years. I took one for four years, from 2013 until 2017.  The four-year break gave me fire and passion to not give up on my writing. I was so tired of not writing that I needed to write.
  • Work on another creative task: baking, cake decorating, sewing, cross stitching, knitting, crocheting, drawing, sketching, playing an instrument, singing, redesigning a website, using Photoshop or graphic design software, or whatever you feel like doing. Often, doing another activity can kick-start your creativity somewhere else.
Other creative endeavors can help you get past a block
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  • Set an amount of time you will allow yourself to feel blocked, then force yourself to get out of the slump. Don’t let it control you, but… [Read More]