You Don’t Need to Outline Your Novel

I have watched many youtube videos titled things such as ‘How to Become a Better Writer!’ or ‘Defeat Writer’s Block!’. While there are usually good tips in these videos, there is one that is often called the most important tip of them all: outline.

Outlining is figuring out your story in advance, such as all the characters and the plot, and every major event that happens in the story. This is all fine and good, but it’s not the single most important rule of all time.

I’m a pantser. What that means is that I go into writing a story with basically no idea where it is going to take me-I’m riding by the seat of my pants. I usually do have a glimmer of an idea of what I want the story to be about, but it never goes how I plan. I have tried to outline several times, but it simply doesn’t work for me.

Recently I started my second novel. My first one, no matter how much I love it, was a mess. It is taking a LOT of editing to get it to where I want it to be. So I determined that I would at least try to get a basic idea of how the plot was going to go and I would get to know my characters before starting my second novel.  I spent a little while interviewing my characters to see what sort of people they were and I got the first third of the story plotted out before I allowed myself to start writing.

When I first started writing the novel, it was boring, but easy. I knew what needed to happen. I was getting a lot of words onto the page. Then things started to go wrong. My love interest for one of my characters became really annoying and was not the right fit for him. My villain reminded me too much of the villain from my first novel. My two main characters were bland or whiny.  Everything was happening like I had planned, but nothing was going how I hoped.

I began to dread writing, but I didn’t want to give up. I liked the idea of the story. Unfortunately, the frustrating situation caused me to take the longest break from writing I’ve had in a while. I eventually couldn’t bring myself to continue the story. The characters leered at me every time I opened the document and I couldn’t see a future beyond what I had plotted out in the beginning. I was stuck and I couldn’t fight my way out because I didn’t care enough to.

Was this it? Was I done? Was one novel all I had in me?

I often get story ideas from characters. I get character ideas from random things in life. I was on Pinterest when I saw an outfit that was unique. It almost immediately inspired a character. As I drew her I started to wonder what world she lived in, and what role she played in that world. I wasn’t thinking too much about it though because I was still depressed by my last story attempt. Then I drew another character from her world and a very faint story idea slowly started to form. After looking at a couple vague prompts from Pinterest, I was starting to get excited. So I decided to try writing this weird, not-my-usual-genre story. No pressure. No outline. No idea where it was going to take me.

And just like that, I re-fell in love with writing.

Outlining is great for those who can come up with a whole storyline in the course of a month or so.  It’s great for those who like to be in control of every detail.  However, it’s horrible for those who feel confined by rules. It’s horrible for those who get their best ideas in the middle of writing-ideas that change the entire course of the story.

So my advice?

Go ahead and try outlining because it’s the most used and most successful form of story writing. However, don’t be discouraged if you find that it makes you frustrated and you don’t like it. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with figuring it out as you go along. Yes, it will mean a lot of editing because halfway through the story you’re going to come up with something huge that needs to then be introduced earlier on in the story. Perhaps even a whole new character. That’s ok. What’s important is that you enjoy writing. Don’t let it feel like a chore. Yes, it’s work, but it’s work that’s supposed to be fun!

It’s ok to be an outliner.

It’s ok to be a pantser.

Do what makes you enjoy the process of telling amazing stories.


Anna Christine


Writing Tips from Someone with ADD


If you know me at all, you know I’m all over the place. I can’t sit still without bobbing my foot up and down, and when I talk my words come out faster than what a lot of people can understand. That’s just how my mind works: it never stops. That makes writing very difficult, at least for me. Perhaps for some, writing is the only thing that makes them calm down.

Writing does calm my nerves down, but it doesn’t mean my mind slows. I sit down with the intention of writing for an hour straight, but then I end up sitting for 55 minutes thinking about everything and anything.

So here’s some tips that I’ve picked up that help me actually get some writing done when my mind is running a hundred miles an hour.


  1. Set a timer – better shorter than longer

This helps me because I have a deadline. If I know I need a certain amount of words done in 15 minutes then I’m going to work harder at getting those words out there because I know I can’t lollygag. I prefer shorter times rather than longer because if I say I need 500 words in 1 hour, then I’m going to sit there for 30 minutes procrastinating.


  1. Turn off the internet

One of the biggest obstacles in my writing path is the internet. One minute I tell myself I’m just going to watch this one video and the next thing I know is it’s been 2 hours and I’ve gotten 0 writing done. When I write now, the only internet access I allow myself is Pandora,, or bing if I need to research anything.


  1. Music

Music is either your best friend, or the worst thing you could possibly listen to while writing. I have experienced both. Really, you just have to determine for yourself whether you get distracted or not. For me, I don’t listen to songs with words while writing. I have a nature sounds radio and a violin radio, which I can write while listening to, but at the same time it doesn’t always work out. There are some days where silence is the best sound that helps you keep focused on writing.


  1. Change your scene

I simply can’t write in the same spot day after day. If I’ve spent the week writing at my desk, I start to get bored and don’t focus as well. Sometimes all it takes is for me to move to my bed and suddenly my mind has switched gears and I can write easier.


  1. Don’t worry

It’s difficult having ADD and trying to sit still while focusing incredibly hard. Some days, no matter what you do, you aren’t going to be able to write all the words you want. That’s ok, just don’t give up. Try again tomorrow. Or sometimes you just need a little break. For me, I find I can write every day after work somewhat easily, but as soon as the weekend hits I can barely put two words together. Maybe that’s just the way my mind tells me that it’s done for a little bit. I don’t push it too hard on those days and use that time to expand my mind by reading or doing some other craft. Either way, I’m not being a failure by not writing for a day or two. I’m just recharging.


That being said, the longer you go from not writing, the harder it will be to start back up. So after a couple days, you may need to force yourself to write, no matter how much you don’t want to do so. On those days, try the tips above.


Now I don’t know if every writer with ADD struggles like I do or if these tricks will work for other people. They do work for me, however, so I thought I’d share them. The most important thing to remember is simply don’t give up. If you feel the need to write deep in your soul, then you fight against your ADD with all your might and write.


It’s easy for me to watch YouTube for hours, but at the end of the day I know I didn’t do anything worthwhile. I lived a pointless day. It is those days that inspire me to leave ‘easy’ behind and do what’s hard. Writing is hard, but I wouldn’t give up on it for the world. I have stories living inside of me that need to be told, so I’m going to tell them.


Anna Christine ❤

Sapphires: Genuine, or Fabricated?

Recently I went in search of a sapphire ring. At the jewelers, the lady showed me a beauty, but it was a bit expensive, so she said,

“I can order you a fabricated stone for your price range, and an advantage of doing fabricated is it can be all the same shade of blue and it can be cut more intricately. It can look prettier.”

My mom who was with me replied, “But…it’s fake.”

The lady agreed.

I didn’t realize at first how much truth this exchange held. Let’s use the sapphire as a metaphor for Christianity.

The fabricated sapphire is beautiful! It looks like your dream gem. It sparkles in the light and it’s the perfect shade of blue. Everything is how it should be…except that’s all external. No matter how much it looks the part, it’s still just glass.

The natural sapphire is beautiful as well, but it could be prettier. It’s a shade darker than you would have liked. It doesn’t have as many facets as the fabricated stone. But the natural has something that the fabricated could never have. It is genuine, not fake.

This sounds like I’m talking about physical beauty, doesn’t it? Well, it could be taken that way for sure. But I’m discussing something much deeper.

There are millions of fabricated sapphire people out there. They look the part. They look better than the part! They may go to church every Sunday. They may volunteer at a homeless shelter. They do good works that make them look very pretty. They seem pretty much perfect. But my mom said it best.

“But it’s fake.”

Maybe it’s not in this life that it’s proven that all their deeds were for nothing. Maybe it happens when they stand before the judgment throne of God. Then all of their good works and their pretty sparkles can only shatter into the worthless shards of glass that they were all along. Matthew 7: 22-23 says,

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ vs23 And then will I (Jesus) declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

There are not near as many real sapphire people out there. They don’t look the part. They don’t look like the type of people that God would choose to be real. In fact, they’re the ones who are constantly stumbling over their words and don’t usually like to be the center of attention.

Here’s where the similarities between natural and fabricated sapphires and life end though. The literal fabricated sapphire can’t turn into a real one, no matter what. But when you’re talking about people, then it is possible.

I was once a fabricated sapphire. In other words, I was someone who went to church every Sunday and I liked to help people and I was an all around nice kid. I was often told that I was sweet and whatever people call little girls who smile all the time. You may know what I’m going to say next.

“But it’s fake.”

I may have sparkled and looked good, but my soul was made of glass. There was no point to my good works other than to make me look good and ‘it’s just a nice thing to do’. What did that do for me? Nothing.

But you know what? God sent His Son for fabricated sapphires. Only He has the power to change fake into real. And let me tell you right now that He didn’t change me because I sparkled a little more than the person next to me. He did not look at me and see anything remotely pretty. All he saw was glass…worthless, cheap glass. But He chose me anyway. And that blows me away. 1 Timothy 1:15 couldn’t say it better.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

God made me realize that I was no pretty thing and I could do absolutely nothing to change that. So He did it all. He changed me into a genuine sapphire. A Born-Again Christian. He didn’t change me part way and say that I had to do good things so I could change the rest of the way. I could never do anything that God considers to be worthy of salvation. So what can I do? All I can do is praise Him for His amazing grace and point others to Him.  Now I don’t do good works to get myself to heaven.  I do them to show that my transformation into a genuine sapphire is already completed and it was only because of God that it happened. So why did God pick me? The next verse in 1 Timothy 1 tells me.

Vs 16“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost (sinner), Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. Vs 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

And so I am a genuine sapphire, and I have no one to thank except for Jesus Christ who died for me.


Anna Christine ❤

He Lives!

Happy Resurrection Day!

On Friday, I posted about Good Friday and well, why it’s good. In that post I said death did not defeat Jesus. We see that in John 20. I want to do a different kind of post here though. Instead of doing this like I did for my Good Friday one, I’m going to write about the resurrection in story form. Specifically from Mary Magdalene’s point of view, starting off from John 20: 11. 🙂


Mary’s eyes hurt from crying and her head ached as she stood outside the empty tomb. An image continued to go through her mind. Her Lord hanging on the cross, dying a horrible death when He did not deserve it. That picture would not leave her anytime soon, if ever.

And now He was gone. Literally gone. As if it wasn’t bad enough that they had killed Him, now someone had stolen His body. She stooped to enter, swiping at her never-ending tears. Her heart stopped as she saw two men dressed in a brilliant white sitting where Jesus had lain.

“Why are you weeping?” they asked.

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him,” she answered and turned to see another man standing there, but he was dressed ordinarily. He looked like the sort of man that would be a gardener.

“Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” he said, his voice kind. Maybe he would tell her what had happened to Jesus. Maybe he had something to do with it.

“Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away,” she begged.

“Mary,” the man said in a dearly familiar voice, and suddenly she saw who He really was. Her heart burst with inexplicable joy.

“Teacher!” she cried. Her tears, now of happiness, streamed down her face as she tried to wrap her mind around the fact that He was here. Alive.

“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God,” he said gently. She didn’t quite understand what he meant, but she did what He asked and ran to find His disciples. She had seen Jesus die, and yet He was alive! How could this be? He truly was God.

Mary burst into the room where the disciples were gathered. The room was silent and thick with grief. They all turned to look at her when she entered. She took a deep breath and said,

“I have seen the Lord!”


This is why I celebrate Easter. Not because of candy and bunnies.  I celebrate because Jesus lives, and because He lives, I can also.

Happy Resurrection Day 🙂

Anna Christine ❤

Good Friday

Matthew 27 tells of the world’s darkest day: the day that the Lord Jesus died on the cross. That day was so extremely sad, because He who was perfect and unworthy of death died. But that day also expressed the greatest love possible. Jesus died for a reason; He died to save sinners. Romans 3:23 says

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

If you only read that verse, you would lose hope. Because if we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, what can we do? The answer to that is simply: nothing. Nothing we do could ever make us good enough. Thankfully, it’s not up to us.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (vs 24) and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (vs 25) whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.”

It says right there in verse 24 that even though we’re sinners, we can be justified by grace through the redemption that is in Jesus. In verse 25 it says that this grace is received by faith. You don’t have to do anything but believe.

So yes, Jesus died. And it is heartbreaking because He didn’t deserve it. But I also rejoice in it because if He hadn’t taken my punishment, there would be no hope for me. That’s why it’s called “Good Friday”. Because good came out of His death. He didn’t even stay dead, that’s how awesome He is! Death could not defeat Him.

So yea, we’re sinners, but that’s why Jesus died. So that spiritually, we wouldn’t have to.

Check back on Sunday for a Resurrection Day post. 🙂

Anna Christine ❤

Spring is Coming

Spring is coming.

You can feel it.  Everything around you tells of its upcoming arrival.  Though trees are still bare and flowers have not yet bloomed, you know.

The wind whispers of a time soon to come.  A time with warm sunshine and spring showers.  Butterflies will be everywhere.  Birds will be building their nests.

Buds will turn into blossoms.  Snow will encase things in its’ cold shell no longer.  Windows will be opened to invite in the fresh air.

When night falls, the stars are free to be gazed at without a chill coming upon you.  Crickets will talk of their coming and goings.  The air will be clear.

Then, before you realize what has happened, it has come.  For several cold, dark months you have been dreaming of it.  Now it is here.

Finally, spring has come.


This is completely random, but I like it.  I don’t write weird, poetic, abstract sort of things too often, but I was inspired by a breeze that felt like spring.  So here this is.  I hope you like it. 🙂

Anna Christine ❤


Love. Everyone is infatuated with it. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, wants to find it. Maybe they want the love of a parent, or maybe they’re seeking ‘true love’.

I was curious as to what the dictionary said love is.

Lovean intense feeling of deep affection

I believe that is so limiting. Love is so much more than ‘deep affection’. So what is it? Well, I’m certainly no expert, but the Bible certainly is. So I went to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and there I find a much better definition.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I don’t know about you, but I certainly want to love and be loved like this. Can you imagine it? In the sin-cursed world we live in, it’s not possible to be able to love with such purity. But that doesn’t stop us from being the recipient of such a love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 7-8.

God is love! And by being love Himself, of course He can give the kind of love that we are told of in 1 Corinthians.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’ll be enjoying a love so much more than ‘an intense feeling of deep affection’. I will celebrate the greatest love of all. For God’s love is so amazing that He sent His Son to die for me to be free from the bondage of sin. If that’s not ‘true love’, I don’t know what is.

Anna Christine ❤