Do you write organically or do you plot out your novels? I don’t think there is only one way to write. Different writers choose different paths, and the main question to ask is, what works best for you?
We must each find our own path.
I really wanted to be a plotter. I mean, really. I bought books and their accompanying workbooks. Downloaded seminars, audio books, and software for my computer. Then tried to get my ideas to behave themselves and allow me to organize them into the nice tidy outline I had planned for them.
Did it work?
In one word … No!
Not for me, which, to be honest was a bit surprising, I can be a scatterbrain, but I also like to follow rules a lot. Especially formulaic rules. I like a nice tidy path to follow, with step-by-step instructions, to make sure I’m getting it right.
A side note on rule breaking – I’m also a bit of a rebel. I like to break the rules too, especially if they’re authoritative, and I love to follow my own path. But the security of a rule book is a nice addition, so I don’t get lost.
Breaking The Rules
I’m also a bit OCD: I like to line up my pens, coordinate my sticky notes, and color code everything. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that outlining was not the vehicle for me–at all!
No matter how hard I tried to force my wild and crazy ideas into the box of outlining, the more they refused to communicate. In fact, my imaginative ideas dried up completely, and sat in the corner like a glowered faced five-year-old with arms folded refusing to communicate.
Reading Books on Writing
Reading books on writing is a very important aspect of improving our craft. We should be like sponges, and devourers of information to become masters of our trade. But, book after book I read kept talking about outlining and all its merits, and referred to pantsing as if it were some dirty little secret. Pantsing, if you don’t know, is the idea of writing without an outline, also known as flying by the seat of your pants.
Set Your Imagination Free
As much as I didn’t want to be a pantser, I thought I would give it a whirl–never say never, right? And I was surprised by the results! I was truly astonished as my imagination was set alight. My little storytelling five-year-old loved it, she wouldn’t shut up. It was all I could do to keep up with her, as story after story poured out of me and onto the paper.
I believe it’s worth giving your imagination the freedom to fly. You jump off the cliff and see what happens.
No matter what kind of writer you are, you should fill yourself up to the brim with great resources. Have a thirst for knowledge. Even if you’re a pantser you should still know how to outline–at least in theory. You gotta know the rules so that you can break them, well. Read books on how to write, listen to audio books, go to seminars, drink it all in.
Fire Up Your Imagination
If you are a storyteller, then read great stories that inspire you. Read what you love. Watch copious amounts of movies. If you watch movies, then you already know how story works, it’s innate–it’s in you!
I read a great book at the beginning of last year called Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. In his book he talks about a style of writing he calls organic writing. Here are some of his ideas:
I would rather …
- Write a story than plot one.
- Tell a story than outline one.
- Follow the narrative than follow a formula.
- Pursue a process that allows for surprises.
- Save time.
- Live in the joy of discovery rather than fill in the blanks.
I also listened to one of his seminars online, through Writer’s Digest, and I picked out this idea of his:
“Art requires trust – Fear will always drive you back to an outline.” – Steven James
There are lots of arguments for and against writing organically. But, I did enjoy his book immensely, so I thought I would give away a copy to one lucky reader in this week’s post. Please feel free to fill out the rafflecopter below.
Use the Rafflecopter widget below!
- You get an entry for every item you complete in the Rafflecopter widget (up to eight entries!)
- You can also come back once a day and ‘tweet about the giveaway’ (for extra entries!).
- You also get two entries, if you leave a comment!
- If you already follow or friend any of the items listed, please help yourself to free entries in the Rafflecopter! Just click the appropriate checkbox in the widget.
- You must have a US postal address to enter.
- The winner will be announced here March 22nd, the winner will also be contacted by email. Good luck!
The giveaway will run till March 21st at midnight (EST).
What are your thoughts?
I would love to know what you think! What have you found to be your best methods for getting a story down on paper? Are you are plotter or a pantser? Or are you still trying to figure out what works for you? Do you believe we are innate storytellers? Or do we need someone to show us what story looks like?
Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!