Once I finished first-drafting the bulk of my fourth chapter, I sat back and stared at the screen. Now what?

I had gotten past that point, that easy point where I had deposited the fury of words stirring in my belly onto the page. Writing by the seat of my pants had taken me as far as it could go. Before I could write . . . one . . .  more . . .  word, I needed a plan.

So, without much choice, I wasted spent an entire day laying out a timeline of events I intended to cover and then working through a story outline as best I could.

The timeline was helpful and essential. It would seem a no-brainer to tackle a memoir just as you experienced it, but if you don’t decide ahead of time what the dozen or so major events are of the whole, you spend too much time writing too much about–and, therefore, drawing too much attention to–the less compelling stuff.

The story outline was critical. What am I most passionate about that has led me to want to write this book? What is it I want to convey as the take-away lesson or theme? What characters will I bother to mention by name (because only they are critical to the story)? What is the premise of the protagonist (me!) relative to her major flaw (oh, I have so many!) and to the theme? And what are my true story events I’ll try to overlay upon the major story points of any story (hook, backstory, trigger, crisis, struggle, epiphany, plan, climax, ending).

So, yes, I’ve wasted spent an entire day doing something other the one thing I wanted to do, write!, but considering how far off the path I could have wandered without a plan, I think I’m now better off.

Today, without reservation, I write.

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