Pantsing It: Day 1

I read a lot of writers’ blogs, and I find almost overwhelmingly that everyone tends to just write out their book as it comes, no outlines, no nothing, sometimes called “Pantsing It.”

I am not one of those writers. For my last book, in the prewriting stage (yes, I had a prewriting stage) I sketched out various plot ideas in whatever order they came and placed them in order with notes in a Word document. Then, as I prepared to actually start writing I made a shorter outline of all the scenes in the first part to keep with me because I write out my books in notebooks for the first draft. (I feel that I my brain thinks and writes better with a pen than through typing). I have a pocket-sized notebook that I write various ideas in, and previous to each scene I will sketch out various turning points I want to hit, unless it’s a major scene I already have clearly visualized. Once I finish the first section, I plan out the second section (middle), then do the end. It’s an adaptation of the process I learned in my screenwriting course in college that was based on the book/seminar series Story by Robert McKee.

It may sound overwhelming and very anal/controlling, especially to anyone on the other side of the spectrum, but it works for me. It worked really well for my last book, actually, which I have officially (in my eyes) finished and have decided is ready for submission. Really, really well. I wrote it without burning out with pretty much unflagging passion throughout the entirety of my designated writing time (my lunch break) and before school, from beginning to end. I only burned out when it came time to edit it, which was good for it and me because we got to take a step away from each other for a while (4+ months). And I love that book, and I think that it is actually publishable.

Yet…

I have three ideas for new books right now, and the one at the forefront I’ve written some notes for and know some of what I’d like to research for it, and I know a few plot points, but one day at lunch last week I sat down and decided that I just wanted to write a scene. I wasn’t sure if it would even be in the book or not, but I wrote it, and it was fun. The next day I sat down and wrote another scene, and this one probably should be in the book, but it’s not the opening.

For some reason, this time I feel like approaching my book a little differently–or a lot differently. I feel like just writing it for a while and seeing where it goes. I think I’ll just write whatever scene I feel most like doing and worry about the placement and everything else later. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up or why I feel like straying from a formula that’s worked so well in the past, but it’s happening. Maybe it’s been so long since I’ve done real writing (opposed to editing) that I’m just dying to work that part of my brain.

Whatever the reason, I thought it would be fun to approach this scientifically. I’ll track my progress in the pantsing department and journal about it here from time to time. I’d like to see how it goes, what works for me and what doesn’t. When/if I feel the need to go back to my plotting/outlining former ways and why. A fairly unscientific science experiment, if you will.

So this will be the official “Day 1” (though technically I started a few days ago). I’ll aim for my next update to be on Friday. (Oh, and no Sherlock today–I never got around to reading my story because of the holiday and everything, but I’ll pick that up again tomorrow). Hope it’s been a great holiday for everyone fortunate to get the day off. It’s been my first official day off since the new year, so it’s been nice for me. Have a great week everyone!

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