Saturday, 9 July 2016

On Planning (Or Rather A Lack of Planning)

Hey guys!
So the other day, I got triggered into a rant about this particular topic by my sister's writing course. My mum and sister are probably laughing somewhere because they know exactly what I'm talking about. What got me ranting, I hear you ask?
This course claimed that the only way to write was to carefully plot out everything and that those of us who just write without a plan are somehow awful writers. 
I'm not sure what this is from, but it's very appropriate.

Yeah, I know. 
So some of you may have figured out that I'm a complete pantser. Sort of. If you're unaware, pantsing is a rather American term for writers who write without planning. Writers who write 'by the seat of their pants', if you will. 'Pants', for those of you who are British, meaning trousers.
Technically this is a sled, but still appropriate. 
I tend to have a basic idea of my characters, a basic idea of the plot and where I'm going and I pretty much always make a Pinterest board for my ideas now. But that's it. 
I don't plan. Like, at all. I normally start writing and figure it out as I go. I plan more in later drafts. An example of this would be The Gatekeeper Chronicles. I've only just written a long-overdue timeline for it. In the second draft. It's good, because it helps me keep events straight and helps me interweave actual events from the First World War into my novel. But I didn't need it for my first draft.
And that was okay.
You right now. Hopefully. 
A piece of writing advice that you may have heard floating around is 'Your first draft will suck. Get over it.' And that was one of the best pieces of advice for my personal writing that I've ever heard. 
I'm kind of a ridiculous perfectionist. If I let myself, then I'll spend my first draft obsessing over plot details, sentence structure and hating myself and my writing for being so awful. I compulsively delete what I've written, so that I never move past the first page.
If I made myself plan out my stories that much, then not only would I get completely bored of the idea (which happened the one time that I planned out a story) but I would be basically giving my inner critic free-reign on my writing. I would fall back into that process of writing, then deleting what I've written, then writing, then deleting what I've written and so on. 
It's a pretty tiring cycle and one that basically ends up making me feel awful. I end up being unable to write and feeling really physically sick every time I so much as look at my word-processor, because I know that's all that's waiting for me.
Me all the time. Except I don't throw computers around.
Yeah. I think you're starting to see why I don't plan that much. 
The thing is there isn't a right or wrong way of writing. I mean, yeah, there's basic grammar rules but not even those aren't set in stone. I once read a book where the lack of proper English or grammar was used for characterisation. You can write however you want. You can write a book like Illuminae that uses mostly pictures or blueprints or chat logs to tell your story. Or you can write a book that drops grammar completely.
I'm not sorry. 
And the same is true of how you write. I personally like to write with a cup of tea next to me and music playing, maybe wrapped in a warm duvet when it's cold. But that doesn't mean I think everyone should write like that. You might prefer to write in silence. Or without the beautiful comfort of tea, strangely enough.

If you're one of those people who need to have a plan in order to write. Great! Good for you! I'm happy you've found a way to write that works for you. That's a perfectly viable way to write. 
But if you're like me and one of those people who prefers to just write whatever comes into your head and let the story unfold, then that's okay too. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with letting yourself just write. 
So yes. There. Rant over.

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