Out of Order

by Milli Gilbertout of order

No, not that kind of out of order. The out of order that doesn’t have its ducks all lined up. We’re talking non-linear out of order. This type of order doesn’t mean it’s broken. Just… rearranged.

For some, myself included, I write like a squirrel with ADD. I have all my nuts scattered around in my head, and I need to go dig them up. Sometimes, I find the one labeled “14” first. Sometimes I find the one that says, “The End” or “Epilogue” on it. But most of the time, I find the one labeled, “1” first. I write whatever comes up when I find my nuts. *makes a note to change the analogy to something like a raffle drawing instead, to avoid the euphemistic/dirty pun that just popped up*

I pull the raffle ticket out of the hat. I write the scene. I pull another scene out of the hat, then write that as well. I go through this process on repeat until I’ve written the entire story. Thanks to Scrivener, this method of writing has gotten much easier. I write each scene on its own card, and I can just move the card to get it in the right place. This process will happen several times before I get things in the right order. You can imagine how hard it is for me to write things in order. Sometimes I get two scenes that are back to back in the timeline and were written back to back, but mostly, nothing lines up until I lay them out straight. It’s torture for me to intentionally write the book one scene at a time, in order.

Linear writers are very different from me – and I know because I used to be one of them. I used to write in order because I needed to write what was happening “now” because it was the direct result of what “just happened” or “happened a while ago” and the precursor of what’s going to happen next. I needed to write “now”, not “then” or “next”. And I get that it probably improves productivity, by doing everything together, by having a plan and sticking to it. In all honesty, I have more completed longer works that were written this way than shorter pieces. It is cruel and unusual punishment, to make a linear author write something that is not linear to the story’s current position.

My guess is that a majority of us fall in line somewhere in the middle. Most of the time, I don’t write with any kind of an order decided on, other than maybe a couple key plot points in the story, but even those, I might not write in order.


Milli Gilbert is a stay-at-home mom who loves to play with words almost as much as she loves to play with her kids. All of her stories involve romance, and maybe a little bit of mystery. She loves to write about cowboys, shifters, and dragons. And smut. And can usually be found trying to find interesting ways to combine them. She just took off after a cowboy-dragon shifter in search of his one true mate… Don’t worry. She’ll be back. Or you can find her on:Twitter, FacebookGoogle+, and Pinterest, and of course, on her blog, Hairballs of Genius.


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