Happy Day After Halloween! Did all of the ghosts and goblins and other fabulous and creative little and big ones have fun? You may be thinking the reason I'm having a problem with pants is because I ate too much Halloween candy last night (& possibly this morning.) Well it’s not true! Okay, it's a little true, but I have stretchy pants for this very occasion.
What I’m actually talking about has to do with writing. And since it's the first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to talk about my writing pants. As many of my fellow wordsmiths know, when we sit down to create a story, most of us fall into one of two camps: we either start with an outline, or we just go for it. I’ve always been in the later category, otherwise known as a "pantser," aka a person who writes by the seat of their pants.
My writing has always been very character driven. And these characters have loud voices that demand attention, so I generally let them guide the action. There's something exciting about starting a new story or even a new chapter, not knowing what my characters have in mind. It's as if I'm experiencing the story the same way my readers will experience it, and I have always loved that part of my writing process. I imagine most pansters feel the same.
Of course, at some point, I do need to reel my characters in and figure out a direction. I call this my AH-HA moment. It's when everything magically falls into place, and I never know when it will strike. Although I can say from experience that it's often when I'm doing something that has nothing to do with writing and is most likely and inconveniently at a time when I'm away from any sort of writing or recording implement.
So why are my pants such a problem?
I'm working on a new story that is super fun but also crazy complicated. It's a ghost story/ mystery that takes place over the span of multiple timelines. There are a lot of pieces and parts and they all need to connect at different places and times throughout the book. As much as I want to pants my way through (And believe me, I gave it a valiant effort), I have given in to outlining. At least my form of outlining, which is actually a spreadsheet, because as many of you may know, I do love a good spreadsheet!
But I've learned something about myself during this outlining exercise: I can't quite give up my pants completely. It seems I can't write without the excitement of wondering what's coming around the corner, and so I've decided to become a pant-liner or maybe a poutliner or … well you get the idea.
To those of you participating of NanoWriMo, best of luck! May your words flow freely whether they come from an outline or from your pants! I'm not officially participating, but I'm always writing and excited to put my new p-liner strategy to the test.