I’m a Pantser

In the writing world, a Pantser is someone who doesn’t plot.  Yup.  That’s me.  A few characters start whispering to me in the middle of the night, usually nattering over the ones I’m already sharing a private moment with.  I flip the notebook beside my bed to a blank page and start scribbling.  I tell them to be quiet until I’m ready for them.  Sometimes they’re persistent. Sometimes I’m able to ignore them. Mostly they all just live in harmony for a while until I’m ready to tell their story. Apparently this is normal. I checked. A frantic tweet revealed multiple replies of confirmation.  I wasn’t going crazy.  It was good to know.

The new project I’m working on for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing month which occurs in November where the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month. You can find me and follow my progress here) follows a couple of characters that started chatting when I was half way through the third edit of my last project (it can get VERY confusing with all these voices in my head). At some point as I write I think I’ll never come up with another idea and fret about what I’ll do if I don’t. So far it hasn’t happened.  I’m hoping it hasn’t just been luck.

I was ill prepared for NaNoWriMo. I almost decided not to participate. It was my first attempt and I wanted to try plotting to ensure I’d finish with 50,000 words instead of daydreaming much of the day (which is work a writer must do I’ve learned from fellow writers over the last year, and I must say, I love this part of the job). I also wanted to finish the third edit of my current project before I started a new one. I wanted to start this blog. I wanted to be able to have a social life during November. I wanted to be prepared, but the flu struck me in early October and as November 1st loomed, I almost bailed. With some not so gentle encouragement from my little brother, I decided to go for it. I rushed to finish the 3rd draft but by 9pm on October 31st I realized I wouldn’t make it.  I pushed it aside the following morning and embraced my new characters hoping I’d be able to go back to it in between, provided NaNoWriMo was going well.

So, I had two nameless characters and a general idea until 11:44pm October 31st. THAT”S how much of a pantser I am. My first scene popped at 11:45pm and I jotted notes and sat down with my coffee the next morning to hammer it out.  Then I had to figure out the next scene and then the next.  Some took longer than others and a long walk today helped sort out a few things, but now that I have a bit more of a grasp on my characters, the ideas started flowing this afternoon. I already have my scenes for tomorrow laid out and I’m hoping they’ll lead me to the next ones and can’t wait to see what my characters will say or do tomorrow that will surprise me. Maybe they’ll make me laugh which I find the most baffling of all.

I don’t think I could take this thrill away from myself and plot it all out. I love the slow discovery. I’ve always liked surprises though. I’ve never understood finding out the sex of a baby before it’s born, so maybe I don’t want to know the end result until I get there for the same reason. Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that I’m a pantser after all.

7 thoughts on “I’m a Pantser

  1. I’m a pantser too! Sometimes I outline a bit (alright, sketch some messy notes on a sheet of paper), but ultimately, the best stories come from what flows from the ol’ imagination when I sit down at the computer. (I think it’s more fun this way, too–even if it does mean more revisions in the end!) Great post! xo

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  5. First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question whicdh I’d like to ask if you do not
    mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to
    writing. I have hadd a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.

    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15
    minutes arre loost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or
    tips? Cheers!

    • Hi Annett. I’m afraid I have a similar problem with centering. I have found what helps me are deadlines, leaving my writing for the day in a positive place so I have something great to come back to, and finding places to write without distractions. The subway commute has been great for me, something I never thought I would be able to do. Best of luck with your writing!

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