To outline or not to outline?

I’ve written three novels and seven non-fiction books so far, and the non-fiction has always been much easier to finish than the fiction. Is it because the writing is so much easier? No. Writing is hard, no matter what the subject or genre. So why do my non-fiction projects seem more simple?

It might have to do with the outlines.

I’ve never used an outline for fiction. But for my non-fiction projects, I research for several weeks, maybe months ahead of time, and then spend a couple of weeks coming up with a really good outline. After that, the writing has always been smooth sailing, even if I change a few things along the way.

Clearly the outlines have been a tremendous help. One writer put it this way: would you build a house without a blueprint?

Since I got stuck this weekend, I decided to start from scratch even if that meant losing a lot of work. Like the 10,000+ words I wrote last week. I know. Ouch.

I spent all weekend creating an outline with plenty of conflict. Now I feel confident about where the story is going. And even if there are a few detours along the way, I feel very good about my map. Or blueprint. Or whatever you want to liken an outline to.

[Map from:]