No More Pantsing!

Down With Pants!

I’ve been a “pantser” for as long as I can remember. If you don’t know, there are two types of writers — pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write without any real plan for how their story will happen. Plotters, well, the clue’s in the name. And for the longest time, I’ve been a pantser. Or at least I was, until now.

After my last module at uni, I just didn’t want to write. I had all these story ideas spinning around in my head, but I didn’t want to write any of them. And I couldn’t work out why. I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. So why didn’t I want to write? Well, it turns out the problems were twofold. And both problems were related to my writing course.

Problem the First

The first problem was that I got a few pretty crappy scores for my assignments. The thing is, writing is a creative endeavour. Any creative endeavour is art. Art is subjective. I think you might see where I’m going with this. My tutor didn’t think some of my work was any good, and it was clear from her feedback that it was the subject matter.

Now, my daughter will tell you I’m a crazy person when it comes to writing. I just write whatever my brain thinks up. So for one of my assignments I wrote a selection of poems about characters from a video game; a video game my tutor had never heard of. She wasn’t interested, and I got a shit mark for the assignment. I’m not really a poet, so I was expecting a bad mark, but not for the subject matter. She wasn’t the target demographic, and I wasn’t writing the poems with her in mind. The poems, from a technical point of view, weren’t bad.

So with that, and the fact that every creative piece had to be presented with a reflective commentary, I lost interest in writing for a while. I still wrote down story ideas, I just never got around to writing them.

Problem the Second

*mumbles* Stupid writing course, making me plan out what I’m going to write, and create plots for stories.

Turns out I can’t write by the seat of my pants anymore. Or at least, not entirely. I still don’t write fully detailed plots. I can’t work with something like “The Snowflake Method” and never could — it’s a perfectly respectable method of writing, it’s just not for me. But I’ve found I can’t write without some sort of guide anymore.

But I Have a Plan!

NB: It’s not a plot.

I’ve started outlining stories. I know, it shocked me too, but here we are. I just write loose outlines, so I know where the story’s going. I still don’t know everything about my characters when I start to write either. To be honest, I don’t understand why people write full character bios. It’s not like you instantly know everything about someone when you first meet them. And sometimes the most fun I have when I’m writing is finding out something new about a character while I’m writing their dialogue. Because that’s how you find things out about people — by talking to them. Or talking about them, of course.

And of course having a rough outline fits with my bizarre method of writing random scenes out of order because I think of something that’s going to happen at some point.

House Flipper
Lloyd Grossman voice: “Who’d live in a house like this?”

But most importantly, it means I’m writing again. It’s been bloody hard not writing when I know that’s what I need to be doing. I’ve still written stuff, even when I wasn’t writing, it just wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to write. You know, like uni stuff. And now I’m hitting, and even surpassing, my daily word count goals. I know now that I can write what I need to before lunch, study after lunch, and play House Flipper after dinner. God, I love that game! Except adding decorations to the houses. That’s like the reflective commentary of house flipping. Art is subjective, you donuts; buy your own damn paintings!

Well, I guess I’m going to sign off now. I have houses to flip!

xx

RJ

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