Pantser or a Plotter?

Someone asked me this today on Twitter and although I’ve never heard of the first term, since we were talking about writing, I figured it out right away.

And so I answered that I am a “seat of your pants” type of writer these days – a pantser.

I used to be a plotter – oh was I ever!  I plotted everything from the beginning of the story to kingdom come, till the cows came home and till the ink ran dry from both my pen and my mind, and I was left too dry and too exhausted to actually write out the damn story.

Sometimes it would happen in the middle of the story, by the time I’d reach 25K words, and once, when I reached 65K.  I plotted so much that I actually ran out of steam, and fall out of love for my technically drawn out characters and all their character arcs.  Oh, the tables and the charts would all be filled out, but the writing page would end up…empty.

And so, after almost ten years of not writing – totally burned out and besides, I had a real life to tend to, a baby to birth, etc. – I picked up the pen and began writing again.

Armed with my new iPad (this was a year and a half ago) and all the writing apps I could get my hands (and wallet) on, I started plotting…and plotting…and plotting.  I had story boarding apps, index card apps, even writing complete with music apps.

But my writing was dry and devoid of that oomph that comes with writing that seems just so organic, as if words just flowed freely from my pen, or from the artery that I’d just cut deep enough to produce a healthy flow of creative juices.

Then I came across this quote by Ray Bradbury:

Jump and unfold your wings as you fall

It told me about writing organically, just allowing words to flow through your fingers, just letting them all hang out.  And maybe later on, I could just trim them down or add to it, but at least there was something real on the page.

I also got rid of all those damn apps.

I started with a paranormal novel and looking back now – this was begun in September 2012 – I wrote without a muse inside my head.  Just faceless creatures walking to and fro reciting dialogue as I wrote – dialogue that was actually really good, but impersonal.

I was too afraid to put faces to the characters then, afraid that I would revert back to my old ways of plotting till the ink well ran dry and I’d fall out of love with the faces I’d chosen.

But being organic in my writing also meant welcoming new ideas in, allowing things that used to scare me back into my life.  It meant allowing a new muse to enter the threshold of my ‘mind palace’ and feel at home – and be an inspiration for me.

It meant that I needed to find him, and let him in.

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So these days, I can definitely say I’m an organic, seat-of-my-pants type of writer, one who has let the muse into her life and allows herself to play with words each and every day, even when the plots that form on the page often go on overdrive and become a bit too wild and crazy at times – but at least I can rein them all in later.

Plotting for me has become like making a sandwich.  I have the two pieces of bread to start with – my beginning and my end – and what goes inside, the filling, I fill it up as I go – as long as the goal is the same – to make it to the second piece of bread, that ending that I had loosely ‘written’ or thought out inside my head.

And so if you’re reading my stories these days, you’ll probably be asking yourself, ‘what is she thinking?’ or ‘where the hell is this going?’.

And the answer is – it’s a journey that begun at the beginning and is making its way to the end.  And along the way, you and I are simply on this one huge adventure – with you as the reader, and me, as its writer.

And boy, am I having fun.

I hope you are, too.

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