Just now, I left a comment on the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management May 6th blog post. And there for all to see is a real-life example of how compulsive we writers can be. Rather than let my original comment with its dopey typo stand as is, I HAD to leave the comment a second time with typo corrected. (Did you find it?) Now I appear more daft for leaving the same comment twice, especially since I’m a client — eesh.
I’ve been meaning to answer a question from “lactatingbookworm” because, unfortunately, it got me thinking:
Hopefully, new ideas will pour in whether we outline our novels or not — and this is good, more to work with. Choose your most-comfortable writing method and know that “disciplining your daydreams” (or, revising, to translate your words into my vernacular) is part of the process.
If the goal is to write a coherent and enjoyable novel, then pruning away those wondrous ideas and plotlines that don’t work is a must. You can choose when to prune: after you’ve written the first draft, while you’re developing an outline, while you’re writing the first draft, all along the way. I’m an all-along-the-way person these days.
Sounds like you’ve got a partial outline completed. Personally, I don’t need to know every last plot point before I start (though I write in-depth character analyses; have you tried this?). At some point, you just have to start — or re-start in your case. You can stop at any point to outline further.
This is my take on your question, lactatingbookworm. Hope it helps. Truth is, anyone with staying-power, an idea, and the urge to write can complete a first draft — but does a first draft a novel make? Nah. You gotta have revision. And this is liberating! You can filter a muddy awful mess into a clear flow.
I imagine some seasoned novelists don’t revise much, but let’s not count them, okay?