It's an odd thing to realize, "Wait a minute, I don't have to do it this way." You could say I've been stuck in that realization all week.
Late last month I put writing aside to work on artwork. While I only produced two pieces during that time, it has done wonders for my artistic confidence. One of these marked my third year participating in the Day of Rememberence Webcomics Project, an achievement in of itself. Once I completed the airbrushing on this year's submission, I decided to relax for the remainder of the week.
My hope was to return to writing the following week. Monday night I reviewed the outline, refamiliarizing myself with the story. Even after a short time away, it's difficult for me to place my mind in the world of the characters. There's inevitably a period where I'm overwhelmed by detail and struggle to keep it all in my head. There have been many evenings like this the last month. Many times I pace my hotel room or apartment putting things back together. No doubt I annoy the residents below me.
During the process I lamented to a friend online about a developing problem. As Draft 5 stands now, I'm happy with the first half of the story. I had assumed that I would be happy with the latter half as well. I thought it the most well-developed part of the story. That evening, however, I found the situation quite inverted.
Sometime during the last few months of development on Draft 5, the first half of the story surpassed the other. While I shouldn't be surprised, this is the first time this has occured in the (far too many) outlines I have produced. Now I was facing a problem. Do I commit myself to yet more outline development?
I discussed this with my friend over Skype. We agreed to do so is an uphill battle. The further out the story gets, the more vague it becomes. There are simply too many details I have yet to discover to outline it in any accurate form. I could brute force my way to those details, but this would be repeating the mistake I made with Draft 3. She suggested that I simply start writing the story, and work out those details when I came to them.
I would have debated the issue the following evening, but illness and insomnia prevented me from doing so. When I regained my strength Thursday night I asked myself the question, "Would that even work?" My biggest fear above all is making a terrible mistake with the story. I don't want to tell it too quickly, or introduce a story element too soon or too late. Creating an outline is a solution to this problem. That can take you only so far. Eventually, you can become trapped by outlines.
I've been trapped for a while.
In the end, an outline is only a blueprint. It's taken me until this summer to realize that. I have enough blueprint to write the first quarter of the story. When the script is far enough along, I'll produce comics. When I complete the first part, I'll take time to outline and script the next. This way I can put my fear of structurelessness aside while enjoying the fun part of the project.