When I started writing I was very much a pantser, the term used for those writers who don’t plot but fly by the seat of their pants. Recently though I’ve moved to the plotting camp. Last week I wrote about the zen of small plates, and the fact that I should enjoy what time we have, specifically within the creative process. I think my move to plotting is linked to this, and an acknowledgement that it is time to grow up.
For my first National Novel Writing Month, back in 2010, I sat down and bashed out 50,000 words easily. It was thrilling flying into the blank white page, able to create whatever I liked. Other pantsers that I have spoken to have a similar rush, and that’s what makes them love the writing method.
By the time I reached the end of my novel though, my plot had been shored up in so many places the believability of it was creaking to breaking point. Surely though, that is what the re-writes are for?
Well, partly. But how many re-writes, drafts and revisions does it take before the thing is finished? I recently found a link on twitter which spoke about getting a novel done in 5 drafts. My current MS has taken many more than that. And enjoying the creative process is fine, but I think another lesson from the small plate is that we must also make the most of the time we have. I feel like I’m wasting time with all these drafts. Time that could have been saved if I’d plotted the damn thing properly in the first place.
Yes, it’s time to grow up and get me a system.
Of course back when I started it I was doing it with no serious publishing goal. I just drifted around playing with the characters and building the world and I don’t regret any of that because it was fun. However, now I can’t help wondering how closer I would be to finishing if I’d planned that story properly from the start.
Sitting down to properly plot something (as I’m doing with this year’s National Novel Writing project) makes me feel rather like I’m suddenly taking this whole writing thing seriously. That now I’m thinking about the final product and an author platform I simply don’t have the luxury of playing about as I used to. Every time I get out my scene cards, the carefree days of writing childhood slip further behind me. Is that a good thing? Or am in danger of losing some of the spontaneity that can be so crucial to a finished manuscript? Hmm…
Plus, when some one asks what you’re doing its fun to say ‘plotting’ and watch their reaction. It’s surprising how many people look at you like you’re an evil genius getting ready to take over the world.
So, plotter of pantser? Or what made you realise that it was time to grow up and take things seriously?
If you are here for the Round of Word’s Update then you know all about Kait Nolan’s blog.
So far this week I have been plotting, or rather revising the plot that I have already. Marked the plot points and the pinch points (according to Rock Your Plot) and have cut some scenes and some characters. I’m wondering if I can cut anymore without crying?
How about you?