For a long time, I never questioned my writing strategy. When I was in high school, I still used Microsoft Word and I wrote in chronological order.
Well, I eventually moved to Scrivener, but I still wrote in order of how the book would eventually read. This summer though, I began to wonder if that was actually the best way to go. for the most part, I think yes, it is, but I’m going to break down some pros and cons to writing in order, and why it’s okay to sometimes break the rules and skip ahead.
Why You Should Write in Order
Our brains think in order, for the most part. It’s also a natural way of storytelling. You develop plots that way too. Also, by writing in order, you’ll naturally add the details in as you go. When you write in order, you’ll also save yourself the problem of having to put the pieces back together when you go to do edits.
Y0u do everything else in order, why should writing be any different?
Why You May Not Want to Write in Order
Sometimes we hit a snag in a story. Sometimes, pushing through the story isn’t working for you, and while I think you can definitely power through that, you may not want to. If you don’t have a plot fully developed (read why you need to outline here), or even just an idea where you need your story to go. If you’re free writing, writing out of order is totally fine, but if you want to get serious, you need to at least know what’s going to happen, even if it’s out of order.
I’d say that 95% of the time, you should stick with writing in order, it just makes sense. The only reason that I ever feel comfortable skipping ahead is when I get hit with an epic idea that’s just too good to wait. For instance, the other day, I had a great idea for a major scene in a later TAB (yep, totally going to start calling it that) book (yes, The Assassin book book is redundant), and while I haven’t sat down to write it yet, I will at some point this week because it just needs to be written down.
So, for the most part, stick with writing in order. Only when you’re stuck or you have a scene that’s dying to be written should you skip ahead. If you find that you have these two things happening more often than not, you need to start disciplining yourself. If you want to be serious about writing and your book, you have to develop discipline, whether it’s staying on task or making yourself write every day. Developing discipline is crucial to being successful in anything you do, writing or not.
Keep up the writing, use your discipline muscle, and go write your awesome book (in order).