Monday 28 January 2019

Pantsing All The Way - The Creative Process


Last week I did a piece about plotting and planning (found here) and this week I've decided to focus on that other side of my writing process, which is the pantsing side. I've always talked about the fact that I'm a hybrid (piece found here, video here) but it's never been something where I've focused solely on the pantsing side of things. I have been writing for almost twenty years and in that time I have found various different ways to plan and outline and get the words on the page. And what I noticed is that where other writers will talk about how they know what's going to happen in this chapter or the other, or they know the ending so clearly. Or that they're able to skip around the timeline and it not freak them out, I don't know the majority of that stuff.

I have a plan, I follow that plan to a point. Of course most people who outline will also add a caveat that the outline isn't made in stone and can be changed, but I find that so long as I have a small grip on the overall plot, the rest of it is made up on the fly. I'll start with a cast of characters and then stop in the middle of a chapter because I've realised that a certain situation is going to happen and for that I'll need x, y and z. I love the way I write and the way I create and while yes, it can make things harder when editing, I find that it doesn't usually make it that hard.

When it comes to rewrites, yes there are going to be things near the beginning of the book where I'm having to change the way a character reacts or how they sound because it can take a good few chapters for me to get their voice right, or because I've decided later on that it would be better to have this happen or that happen earlier so that it makes sense for the climax and ending of the book. And yes, those are a big pain, but I also edit as I go. So if I get to chapter fifteen and realise that I need to change something in chapter two, it gets done. I wouldn't advise a newbie writer do that because it's way too tempting to end up in editing hell where you're so focused on getting the scene perfect that you don't write the rest of the book.

However, I have come to embrace my pantser side. For a long time I thought it was the "wrong" way to write a book, and it's not. There are so many different ways to write and none of them are wrong. You have your own style and your own way of doing things and that's more than okay. Some writers I know write out of sequence. I know I couldn't do that because it would freak me out having to then follow that plan to make sure that later scene made sense. But it works for some people and that's great! But I feel like a lot of people look at those of us who pants and think that we're not doing it right because they personally couldn't do it that way.

That said, I have found that my best ideas come from pantsing. I've also found that if I do extensively outline then I will find myself bored to tears and unable to write the story because I've lost my passion for it. I like keeping things loose, being able to add this twist or that twist and making it all come together in one glorious ending that even I didn't see coming. I love telling stories that way because it keeps me on my toes and allows me to do my best creative work. And I guess part of this piece is to celebrate that, but also to let other hybrids or full on pantsers know that it's okay.

You're not doing something wrong. You're creating your way and while your way may not match mine or anyone elses, that's also okay! Planning isn't for everyone and I think it's beyond amazing that so many different writers approach writing in so many different ways. Think of it this way. There's no way to tell a perfectly unique story because the majority of stories have been told before, but when you're approaching it in a different way, you are telling a unique story because it's the one only you can tell. So remember that, keep pantsing, keep planning and most of all, keep writing!

Good luck!

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