My Favourite Writing Method

how to “quilt” together your book


Who else has struggled with their writing because they feel they MUST go in order, from beginning of the book to the end of the book?

I didn’t know there was any other way to write until a few years ago in my mid-20s – over a decade of struggle.

What is this method?

It might go by other names, but I’ve been referring to it as the “Quilting” method, and it is something I learned from taking a course through Caroline Donahue, a Writing Coach who is based in Germany.

Essentially, you are writing your book out of order. Each day you choose the chapter or the section that you want to write, or that you have the most content prepared for if you’d rather. Doesn’t need to be the first chapter, doesn’t need to be the last – go with what you’re inspired to write that day!

Why do I like this method?

As I was taking this course, I was amazed how excited I was to write – writing always used to seem daunting by a certain point in the book. For example, in the past I would write maybe three chapters, and then I would delete all my progress. (I was also a teenager / early 20s and struggled with confidence, so that most likely also contributed.)

During my time in this course, I wrote 1/3 of a novel – a THIRD! While I did get stuck on something plot-wise and halt my writing, this is still a huge achievement for me. I’m currently back into writing and using this method again to get me even further this time around.

How do I personally use this method?

Initially, I used index cards to write out different scenes (or at least bullet-point). Index cards are a handy tool because you can use them as a visual aid and move the cards around to make the story make sense. For actually writing, I always used to use Google Docs … until I found out about Dabble, which makes it 100x easier to use the Quilting method!

At the moment, I’m not working on a novel, but rather a personal development book, so instead of using index cards I’ve decided to journal – I know the core 5 sections of the book, so I use those as writing prompts. I’m also utilizing a journal because I’m reading a book called 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain, and while I haven’t gotten to the stage yet of taking a full day off in the week (I have done this once a month before, but I’m gearing up to do this weekly), I am trying to wean myself off of technology. So while I need my laptop to blog and to write my book, I figured the brainstorming piece doesn’t have to involve technology.

I will also add, and you may have heard this before but I’m going to say it anyways (because this is not something I ever used to do): It doesn’t hurt to have an outline! I created one during the course I took, and I have one now for this book. It can be as simple or in-depth as you want, but it has definitely helped me to have some idea of what I’m envisioning for the book – as I mentioned, I have 5 core sections for this current one, so I can use those as prompts and know roughly what I want to write about.

Who is this method for?

If you’ve struggled, like I have, or you’re just looking to switch up your writing routine and style, I would highly recommend giving this method a try.

It may take some time to unlearn that you don’t HAVE to write from beginning to end in chronological order – use tools like index cards and Dabble to make the process easier.

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