Boy, what my sister Debs must think of me.
Just because I’m an admitted pantser (or should that be “pantster”? I mean, I don’t go around pantsing fellow writers or anything … nah, pantser just looks better), and made one little reference to Bungee jumping in the comments on Tuesday, they’re tweeting stuff like this and this about me.
Not that I can blame them. I mean, I suppose I do have a … how shall I put it? let’s see … somewhat naughty take on a lot of subjects. What can I say? Innuendo is inherently amusing. (Well, to me, anyway. Your mileage may vary.)
So, yes I happen to find the analogy of Bungee jumping naked to be an apt descriptor of my writing style. I get an idea, I strip it of restraints, and I plunge. You should try it — it’s exhilarating.
(Analogically speaking, of course, because damn. I would never Bungee jump in real life, clothed or unclothed. I mean, come on. Mental fearlessness differs hugely from physical fearlessness.)
Anyhoo, a while back, on my own blog, I explained how I write. Since “writing” encompasses “plotting,” I thought I’d share it here.
(Hey, I’ve already explained that I’m a green blogger—I recycle when I can. *grin*)
Here’s what I said then, and it still applies:
If I actually have anything organized enough to be called a “process,” I suppose I would label it:
Because when creativity strikes, it is a rather chaotic process for me. When an idea bubbles up I chase it around my head for a while.
I purposefully do not write it down, because I figure if the idea isn’t compelling enough to stick with me in this embryonic phase, it’s not worth the paper and ink. Or the hard drive space. (Yes, I have lost ideas this way. Would they have made good books? Huh. Guess I’ll never know.)
If after a week or two the idea just won’t go away, if characters appear, spinning micro-fantasies in my head at odd hours of the day and night, then I start to write.
At the beginning.
Chapter 1, page 1. Just as if I were reading instead of writing. In fact, that’s how I like to think of my writing–as interactive reading. It’s more fun that way.
And then I continue until I reach the end. Linear Linda, that’s me.
See, I’m a “pantser.” A writer who doesn’t outline. Sure, I have a vague, big-picture idea of what’s going to happen, but the details remain obscure until I reach them. I want them to surprise me.
(I tried to outline a book once. Very precise, very organized. As soon as I knew for sure what was going to happen, I got bored with it and quit. Which was a pretty good indication the method wasn’t for me.)
Of course, sometimes the surprises I run across with my process mean I have to go back and tweak the earlier chapters, but that’s okay. Tweakage is fun.
Working this way also means it’s tough for me to achieve a consistent output. My daily word count varies from -5000 (a personal best for hacking out stuff that just wasn’t going to fit) to +3500 or so. Mostly it hovers between one and two thousand. Not blazing fast, but it’ll get the job done.
Since I tweak as I go, as soon as I finish the “first” draft I’m pretty much ready to send it off to my fantastic critique partners and beta readers. They may have had a small taste of it along the way, but mostly I’d rather they read it whole, so they can give me an overall impression of the book as a complete entity before they start pouncing on what tends to be a prodigious number of typos. (Those beasties multiply in cyberspace, I swear.)
I take whatever they tell me to heart. They are that good. Now, I don’t necessarily follow all their suggestions–for one thing, these amazingly brilliant women don’t always *gasp* agree, so that would be impossible–but I give them all serious consideration.
After incorporating whatever changes I’ve decided will work, I do one last run to make sure no inconsistencies have been introduced. If they have, I fix them.
Voila! A book is born.
That’s it. Basically, writing a book is simple. But not easy.
Best of luck with yours.
*CHAOS! = Creativity Happening Again, Oh Snap! (What? You thought I was going to use a different S-word, didn’t you? Well, I can be polite. Sometimes. So there.)
Really, when you think about it, my new analogy of Naked Bungee Jumping fits together pretty well with my old Controlled CHAOS paradigm. I mean, seriously, what is Bungee jumping naked if not controlled chaos?
So, where does your writing style (or lifestyle in general) fall? Do you tend toward order or chaos?
(Of course, what we really want to know is, do you Bungee jump—er, write—naked? Do feel free to answer both.)