My sister is thinking of writing a book herself and wanted me to take the James Patterson class with her. I’d told her no because I’d heard that it was basic and more for beginners. I figured I was a bit past that. However, when I was forced to stay off my feet for six weeks, I relented and agreed to take the class with her, assuming that it would be good practice.  And win me brownie points in the awesome sister department.

We made a pact to take all of the classes and to complete all of the assignments. I dove into it with the excitement of a soggy pickle, but I stuck with it.  To my astonishment, I learned something. There’s a class dedicated to outlining and I really wanted to ditch it. I’m a panster and I’ve tried every way to outline. I know it would make my writing go smoother, but every time I tried, my mind would go blank. One time, I tried to think of a different ending for a manuscript that I’d already completed and I couldn’t come with a single thing for three weeks. Finally, I parked my butt in the chair and pounded out the new ending. It’d had taken the actual act of writing to massage my brain into providing the answer. So, I wasn’t going to even try outlining like the homework asked, but I’d promised my sister and I like to keep my promises.

It takes James Patterson months to outline, but the lesson didn’t require us to come up with a whole novel, only to try brainstorming scenes.  According to Patterson, he doesn’t always use all of the scenes. He picks which ones work and which ones that don’t. He also goes rogue when writing so it’s a loose outline. I looked at the example provided and started writing scenes down. Amazingly, in two weeks, I had enough scenes to string together that I thought worked. Now, I’m in the process of writing the story. And it’s easier. I have about two hours everyday to write and usually, I’m lucky if I get a thousand words typed. This week, I wrote over twelve thousand words, averaging over two thousand a day.

This has proven so helpful that I’m already brainstorming scenes for my next WIP. We’ll see how it pans out, but I’m hoping outlining will become my new norm.