Writing Journal Y3 Day 329


I talked a little bit last time about outlining versus pantsing.  I am definitely a pantser at heart – or a ‘discovery writer’ if you prefer.  Once I sit down to write, I tend to not have an outline.  I write, and let the characters take me where they want to go.  To some extent, that has to change.

mathMy brain is more than a little ADD.  Never been diagnosed or anything, but I tend to be easily distracted by shiny new ideas.  More often than I like to admit, I have had a great idea take hold, drive me to write a few thousand words (or less – or more), and then putter out.  That’s the curse, and the gift.  Plenty of ideas, too few finished pieces (IMHO).

It’s difficult to change, especially ingrained habits.  I have to take it one step at a time.

At MileHiCon, I did a live panel and I was asking the other panelists if they were outliners or pantsers.  Edward Bryant didn’t quite hear me and thought I was saying something about cancer, which got a laugh.  If you aren’t sure what the term ‘pantsers’ means – it’s writing by the seat of your pants.  You sit down, open up the word processor of your choice (it better be Scrivener), and start typing.  No guide, no outline, no clue where you are going.  You just write.

There’s a certain kind of freedom in being a pantser, which is why I don’t want to completely convert to outlining.  I -know- outlines aren’t set in stone, but there are times when my brain can’t make that distinction.  Trying to explain this can be hard – it’s kinda of like killing your darlings.  If I have spent the time to outline, I don’t want that to be for nothing.  I want those words, the time spent writing them, to pay off.  Ignoring them, or going off in another direction feels like an insult to myself, and a deliberate waste of the time and effort spent to create that outline.

Stupid!  I know!

Which is why I’m trying to change.  Become a hybrid.  Little from column a, little from column b.

1 Comment

  • Ashley R Pollard Posted November 25, 2013 2:38 pm

    I don’t understand the dichotomy as it seems false to me. One begets the other IMNSHO. Outlines are the tent poles that give the story its shape, or the skeleton that you hang the flesh off. YMMV

Comments are closed.