F**k It, I'm a Pantser

Okay, I've tried it. I've tried to go along with this organizational thing and plan out my novels and stories before I sit down to write them and I've had enough! How do you people do this? I'm 69K words into my fantasy novel and it veered way off course several chapters ago and now it's just floating around in some writer's abyss waiting for a conclusion to happen. I'm not sure I'll get to it, at least right now, if perhaps ever.

I really thought I found the perfect medium ground after reading "Take Off Your Pants!" by Libbie Hawker since the story outline grew from the character and not from plot. I outlined the entire novel using her techniques and I thought it was nice to have a course to follow but that there was still tons of room for spontaneity during the actual writing of the book. But somewhere along the way, the story started veering farther and farther off the path that I had outlined in the beginning. I understand that there should be some flexibility for wandering away from the outline but I'm talking so far off course that no navigational skills would ever bring it back on course.

Back before writing my first three novels, I read Stephen King's "On Writing" and I immediately identified with his approach to writing, which is a pure pantser mentality (or Gardener as I talked about in a previous post). I wrote my first three novels that way and it definitely worked out for the first two (wish I could say the same for the writing). The third one was a science fiction novel and was in need of lots of revision. I've since come up with a better take on that story and will write it after getting a few books under my belt. Anyways, I digress. I felt much more comfortable as a writer going about it as a pantser than trying to fit into the outliner paradigm.

My main impetus for forcing my way into the outline was twofold: I started my writing resurgence at the end of last year solely on screenplays and you have to outline if you want to make it in that business; and when I switched to novels, all current wisdom was that to succeed in indie publishing you had to release several books a year and outlining them was the only way to get them done in a timely manner. Well, fuck that. With the writing sprints that I'm currently using I'm reaching up to 4K words a day and if I'm writing by the seat of pants that word count increases as opposed to trying to fit it into some outline. There is no doubt that pants-ing it will lead to longer and more extensive rewrites, but that is the price I'm willing to pay to enjoy the writing process. I was born a pantser and I'm done trying to force myself to be something I'm not.

David