If you’ve been keeping up with my posts the last few weeks or months, you’re probably starting to think I’m schizophrenic. One minute I’m lauding the wonder of structure and pre-planning, and the next I’m lamenting the missing magic when I write within a structure.
Basically, you’ve been watching me try to find myself. I cannot regret having any knowledge of structure, and I will admit the lure of it is great for a logic-minded person like me. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may have to fly by the seat of my pants in order to find my best story. I can work the structure back into it later, or keep it in mind as I go.
I hate admitting that, but it’s better than struggling to force a method that doesn’t work for me right now. (I’m always hopeful for the future.)
Just over a year ago, when I started writing seriously, the time spent writing was pure joy. Yeah, I struggled and backtracked and cut, but overall the process was (mostly) fun. The story just came to me as I went, like brainstorming on the go. All three of my completed works (one which is never mentioned in public) were written that way.
My left brain rebelled and demanded that there had a to a better, more efficient way to do it. And there is. But (apologies to one of my favorite gurus, Larry Brooks) it’s not my way. Not now. When I tried it, I couldn’t get more than 4-5000 words before I lost the spark, lost the desire.
Today, I read an article that helped me come to terms with my “pantsing” ways. It was written by Jo Beverly, and it walks us through her “process” of writing from scratch. She calls it “Flying into the Mist”. I highly recommend it to all writers who won’t or can’t pre-plan, and to the people who love them. 😉
Writing by the seat of your pants doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate GMC, characterization, and good story structure. They’ll still be on your mind, but the story will unfold as you go, and you may have to go back and strengthen it in the edit/revision process. Or after you write each scene.
The whole argument about the right way to write reminds me of the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate. I’ve been on both sides of that one too. There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s only what’s right or wrong for you, right now.
Be true to yourself, embrace your own method, and, as always, write on.
UPDATE 2/25/11: In case you haven’t been following along, After an incredibly successful trial run for NaNoWriMo, I’m back to outlining to give myself guideposts, but flying through the mist in between. What I’ve found is that I have to give myself time to play with the (really basic) outline to make sure the story is solid before I start writing from it. This has worked really well for me now, and I might just be sticking to it. 🙂