No Longer Pantsing

Image courtesy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I’ve been thinking about how my writing style has changed over the last couple of decades, and I think I can finally admit that I’m no longer a pantser. [For those of you unfamiliar, this of course refers to ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ — meaning that I used to be a writer that barely plotted ahead and just ran with whatever came to mind at that moment.] I’m actually just fine with that, to tell the truth.

Pantsing used to work just fine for me, especially back in the 90s and early 00s, when my main issue was spending far too much time hyperfocusing on whatever scene I was trying to write, and I needed to break out of that somehow. This style worked because it forced me to choose what I wanted to write and run with it. In the process, I’d get a full scene done super quick because I was finding it all out as I went.

Nowadays, though? I’ve become a huge fan of working out complete synopses! I haven’t quite nailed full outlines just yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there soon enough if I keep this up. Writing these synopses out means that I can come up with a solid main plot and maybe a few side plots that will serve as the structure and backbone of these stories. This in turn cuts down on time where I’m sitting here, staring at the screen trying to figure out where I want to go next. I’ve gotten really good at playing out the story a scene or two ahead, so the writing session is really me working from Point A to Point B. The synopses helps me work through that.

Perhaps I’m getting a bit too excited about this, as I’ve managed to work out four or five projects ahead, what with all these synopses I’ve been writing lately, but really, I’m not seeing a major problem with that, other than prioritizing them…and that’s where the whiteboard and daily schedules come in. It’s a matter of “okay, I need to do prose writing work for Project A this morning and Project B this afternoon” and maybe playing around with the world building of Projects, C, D and E when I want some light and fun work at the end of the day. The main idea of all of this is giving myself future projects to work on, or something else I can work on in tandem with whatever is currently going on. It’s so I can have multiple titles on hand to offer while submitting, really. [Jumping into the pro submission biz is another subject entirely, and I’ll be blogging about that soon enough.]

This is what I meant earlier about having good distractions. All this is keeping me busy and productive. I may have been able to pull this off as a pantser back in the day — I mean, I was too broke to do anything else, plus this was also back during my dial-up years so I wasn’t online nearly as much either — but things in my life have changed enough that it only makes sense that my writing process evolves along with it.

As long as I’m going in the right direction, as I often say!

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