So, after my huge writing fail post, I left this comment as a reply on facebook and it made me think even more about whether a fail is really a bad thing:
For me, the outline isn;t set in stone so much as it’s a safety net, a map scribbled on a cocktail napkin. There are lots of details in it, but that tree landmark on the corner might be 4 blocks away instead of 1.5. It’s the idea of a tree, and once you get there, you can go somewhere else. Or maybe you talk to some weird old dude over his fence and get a shortcut that may or may not take you where you want to go.
The outline forces me to think 2, 5, 10 steps ahead, and helps me get out of the weeds when I’ve got myself good and lost. Like having to double back to the dairy fridge and get the milk that you almost left the store without but manage to come out of there with everything you need.
I keep all my notes, because some of those side stories that got created when I was writing notes for the original story can take on a life of their own. Sort of like how Last Dance Redux led to Trust Me, which led to Rider and lastly (hopefully lastly!) to Jack.
You know, now that I think about it, maybe those notes are dangerous after all….
With this in mind, I think this is where the fail may have come in: That I stopped writing notes as a safety net and started writing them to write them. They stopped being some sort of writer’s talisman to wave in the face of the Block and became, fuck…WORK! And that’s where it broke down. Where I couldn’t tuck my scribbled cocktail napkin into my pocket and just wing it, secure that the map was there.