I'm fine with outlines. Especially the kind of informal to-do-list "jot outlines" Hart talks about in A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to words that Work. But diagrams of arcs (or the "mind maps" popular with some copywriters) are simply counterintuitive for a guy who flunked finger-painting.
How refreshing it was to come across this quote from James Thurber:
I don't believe the writer should know too much where he's going. If he does, he runs into old man blueprint.Thurber on first drafts:
That draft isn't any good; it isn't supposed to be; the whole purpose is to sketch out proportions... I rarely have a very clear idea of where I'm going when I start. Just people and a situation. Then I fool around—writing and rewriting until the stuff gels.
I admire the person who can write it right off. Mencken once said that a person who thinks clearly can write well. But I don't think too clearly—too many thoughts bump into one another. Trains of thought run on a track of the Central Nervous System—the New York Central Nervous System, to make it worse.
Still, the act of writing is either something the writer dreads or actually likes, and I actually like it. Even rewriting's fun. You're getting somewhere, whether it seems to move or not.Neither way is right or wrong. There are many paths up the mountain.