In the pantsing vs. plotting writing methods, pantsing, by far, is more fun.
However, it has not proven to be optimal. Because I don’t have a finished novel draft to show for it.
The thing is … I WANT to plot. I enjoy the plotting process itself. But it makes drafting so boooooring and my ADHD brain would rather ram my head against a wall than draft an already-plotted story.
I love planners and making lists and I enjoy planning my days, my weeks, and my homeschool year/lessons/activities. But I still struggle with doing this for writing.
I am a member of a website called Story Embers, and they have a great forum where members have posted questions and helped each other out.
Today, I searched through the forum looking for keys I may be missing in the skill of plotting. I found a topic titled “How do I prevent outlining from becoming a creativity killer?“. I clicked on it thinking it perfectly defined my current struggle. Only to realize — I POSTED THIS TOPIC!! Over 1.5 years ago. So apparently, it’s still a struggle.
Here’s something that happened recently:
I got stuck at 32k on a YA novel that a writer friend had been asking me to PLEASE finish. (He’s published 20-something novels). I finally just sent him my 32k and plot notes. I was so proud to tell him that I’d actually plotted this one.
Two days later, he sent me back some suggestions on plot, then sent a 12-scene outline, where he’d made a few sentences to summarize each of the 12 scenes that make up Act 1.
Y’all, it made the story STRONGER. And BETTER. But there were a few scenes that I’ll probably change, just because of style differences (he writes in the style of Dan Brown and David Baldacci, while mine is … well … not).
Then I wilted a little. I didn’t know how to apply my self-education about strong plots as well as I thought I could. How did he plot those scenes so well? And so FAST?
I sent him back an email to say as much.
All he sent back was, “I think the answer to your question is ‘butt time’.” In other words, put your butt in the chair and get to work.
He’s always told me it’s really as easy as that … Butt in chair. GET TO WORK! He said I know everything I need to know. I’m just spending way too much time NOT writing.
That was several days ago, and I still haven’t done anything yet with what he sent me.
The thing is … I ENJOY the writing process much better when I’m pantsing slowly, editing as I go. But it’s not efficient, and I always get stuck, and my ADHD brain jumps ship and starts on the next shiny, new idea.
I’ve been writing for years. My struggles have always been the same. For SO. MANY. YEARS. I have found NO solutions to the problems that seem to make a difference, because ALL of them are hard. I’m so sick of circling round and round the same issues.
At one point I had even decided I must not be a writer, because pantsing doesn’t work, and plotting doesn’t, either. I still run into the same issues with any method in-between.
But alas, my soul withered into an unrecognizable clump of self-pity because I need writing to survive.
Which is weird.
Maybe it’s one of those things where God gives you an ability, and if you don’t use it, you wither into a sad little clump.
I don’t know. I’ve prayed about this for years. God hasn’t sent me a magic letter in the mail like Harry Potters invitation to Hogwarts to explain exactly how I should do this.
Your guess is as good as mine!