Always Changing

Hello, hello!  As I mentioned in last week’s post, I was planning on starting a new novel in order to respark my writing passion.  I started it on Saturday and have worked on it regularly since then.  I admit that I’m still not up to my usual word count per day yet, but whenever I open the file, I’m filled with the desire to move forward instead of dread.  That’s a win!  But, as I noticed with my last novel attempt, this novel has its own flow and wants to create its own routine.  I don’t remember having to adapt to new writing habits with every new short story I wrote, but apparently novels are different beasts entirely and each one is going to require special treatment.  Today, I wanted to ramble a bit about how my routine has changed with this novel compared to the other two of which I have (at least) completed first drafts.

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When you sit down to start a new novel and everything is perfect, then the novel decides your previous routine isn’t good enough…

My first novel was written completely in pantser mode.  Music from my iTunes (which basically runs the gamut of styles) played in the background for almost every writing session.  When I hit snags, I usually figured everything out after random bursts of subconscious ideas.  And in the end, the first draft was an unreadable mess that took another year or longer to clean up.  It was fun.  It was hard.  It was draining.  But I got it done with plenty of help from my Stonecoast mentors and compadres.  Honestly, if I hadn’t had help and people telling me that I had to finish it, I don’t think I would’ve been able to keep going.

The second novel that I actually finished (I started one between them, but got stuck halfway through because I stepped too far outside of my comfort zone), was wildly different.  I had the first half plotted out and knew where it would end, but switched to pantser mode to connect the beginning and end.  It was written mostly in silence because music distracted me.  When I got stuck, I’d actively plot things out in my head, but rarely thought about it otherwise unless I was working on it.  I wrote it in about seven months, a record for me, with little help.  Only a handful of people have actually seen any of it.  But when I read it to start revisions, I was surprised that it made sense and flowed as well as it does.  It still needs a lot of work, but I’m happy with how it turned out with that routine.

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When you’re down and don’t want to do anything, but the new novel idea won’t leave you alone.

Again, I started and stopped a novel before deciding to switch to my novel-in-progress.  I was in a position where I didn’t want to write anything when this idea started pestering me.  I’ve got the major plot points figured out and there hasn’t been a night that’s passed by without me laying awake in bed plotting out the next scene.  It’s a little scary to think I might be turning into a plotter on this one.  I’ve tried writing with iTunes and in silence, but neither feels quite right, so I’m going to try my CDs (my teenage anthems sprinkled with some more recent music) next.  I’ve also had the urge to find reference pictures for my characters, which is something completely new for me.  I never needed pictures of my characters before, so part of me thinks I’m just looking for excuses to feed my need for eye candy, but I’m going with the flow and looking for some.  Granted, this is just the beginning of the process.  I might revert to pantser mode later on.  But the new process feels right so far.

Hiro from Nocturnal Bloodlust is basically Jyou (one of my protagonists).

Maybe I’ve just been refining my technique with each new novel or maybe my routine really will have to change with each new novel.  Either way, I’m just happy to be enjoying writing again.  It’s been a while since I could say that.  What about you?  Do you notice changes in your writing routine between each novel/story?  Or have you found something that works consistently for you?  Share your thoughts, comments, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Plotter Vs. Pantser

Hello, hello!  It’s been awhile since I’ve really written something writing related, so I thought I should probably get back to that.  After a long day of errands and asking people what I should blog about, a friend brought up the question of whether I’m a plotter or a pantser.  Basically, do I outline my stories or do I let them grow organically.  I’m sure I’ve at least glanced over this at some point in the past two years (I’ve kept a blog going for two years???  Who’d’ve thunk it?), but I decided to take a minute to dig deeper into this seeming dichotomy.

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From So You WriteI still don’t know all the abbreviations, so don’t feel bad.

First, let’s take a look at plotters.  These are the people who get a story idea, then spend hours or days or weeks or longer plotting out all of the details and creating outlines and character bios and the like (and even charts or graphs for the hardcore plotters).  Some of them plan every little thing ahead of time.  Others write out the broad strokes (major plot points and characters and all of that) but leave connecting the dots until the actual writing process.  This works really well for some people, but it’s not the only way to write.

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Just one example of plotting, courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

On the other hand, you have pantsers.  These are the people who get a story idea and just go with it.  Characters and adventures come and go organically as the story unfolds on the page.  Many of them have no notes beyond the story itself.  Some take notes as they go, so they don’t have to keep scrolling through their story to remember what someone was wearing or whatever.  Others plot things out in their head as they go, but allow the story to ultimately dictate what happens.  They aren’t afraid of getting sidetracked by a character who refuses to do what was planned.  In other words, they fly by the seat of their pants.

As different as these two things are, I think they’re more two ends of a spectrum than separate identities.  I certainly know people who are strict plotters and others who refuse to even attempt the restrictions of planning things out, but I prefer taking the middle ground.  I fully admit that I have more pantser tendencies than not.  I’ve always had trouble creating (and adhering to) outlines.  All of my stories start organically and I prefer to let them unfold on their own, but I do get stuck sometimes when I do it that way.  That’s when I switch to plotter mode.  I write a rant (I literally whine and complain and generally grump during this whole process) to myself figuring out where I want the story to go, then once I get back on track, I switch back to pantser mode.  There’s no shame in swinging both ways.

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How most pantsers feel when dealing with unruly characters.

There’s no one right way to be a writer.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar McLiarson, so don’t listen to them.  Don’t be afraid to try plotting if you’re a pantser.  It can really help things flow better when you’re stuck.  Also, try flying by the seat of your pants occasionally if you’re a plotter.  It can be freeing and new, exciting things could happen.

What are your thoughts on plotters vs. pantsers?  Which one are you?  Or do you dabble in both?  As always, leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

Until next week!