One Writer’s Journey

April 4, 2016

Writer’s Block, Brain Block and Outlining my book

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:26 am

blockRecently I wrote a post about knowing when to quit writing and put something aside vs when to soldier on.  Sometimes you really do benefit from a break, but sometimes you have a deadline and a break just isn’t an option.

That was the situation I faced last week when I was trying to outline my book on the zika virus.  For an entire work day, I struggled with the outline.  I’d skim a page of notes and then add an item or two to my outline.  Then back to the notes.  Then back to the outline where I erased something or moved something or otherwise didn’t accomplish much.

But my deadline was today.  I had to get moving.

Whenever I’m stuck like this but can’t put something aside for a while, I change-up how I work.  In this case, I was popping between two files — my notes and my outline.  Maybe if I could see both at once?

Now I have to confess.  I know people who can work with split screens but I am not one of those people.  Instead, I decided to go Old School.  I printed off 27 pages of notes.  Then I printed off a header for each chapter idea, 8 in all.  Scooping it all up along with a scissors, pen and tape, I headed into the dining room.

Left to right, I spread out my headers.  Then I started going through the notes.  News about genetic engineering and sterilized bugs went in my last chapter.  Notes on Guillain-Barre went in the French Polynesia chapter.  Brazil got the information on microcephaly.  Some pages had to be cut in half.  Others in thirds, but one page at a time, I sorted them all out.  An hour later and I had information sorted into 8 chapters ready to outline. Yes, it took me hours more but I was finally moving forward.

My lesson?  When what you are doing doesn’t work, try something else.  If you’re used to working high-tech, try workng old school.  It just might be the solution you need.



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