In Defense of Pantsing

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Despite all those amazing tools out there to help me stay organized with my writing, I find myself gravitating to the wild west approach to writing. Pantsing appeals to my inner child who would usually announce her games with the words, "Let's pretend!"

I have to tell you that I have attempted outlining, even at the most basic level. But instead of writing, I end up with no creative inspiration at all. I am aware it works for a lot of writers, but a bit like attempting to do a cartwheel after 20 plus years of not doing one, I can't get my stories off the ground when I outline.

What I love about pantsing is that it allows me to take the story in any direction I choose and I get to see it all play out as I write. I get to walk behind the character and follow this character while they nudge me along and I nudge them along. Sure, sometimes stories go stale. And they are put to the side. However, this has happened to me when I've tried outlining, so there you go.

Pantsing allows me flexibility as I write, which I love. It makes writing feel like an adventure. So, as you take on the writing challenge this month, if you are pantsing, I wish you well. Write with reckless abandon. Push away the inner critic and write on.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--Hello, fellow pantser!

Unfortunately, there have been big projects I wrote without even the benefit of pants. I guess I was buck naked when I wrote them, because the pieces ended up extra cruddy.

With my current WIP, I need to do some rough outlining--rough even from "Save the Cat" standards--so I don't lose my way and get mired in a stack of boring pages.

I wish YOU well. I'm sure at the end of the month you'll have something you're proud of.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I'm a pantser, too! This is the first time I've actually ever created an outline and chapter summary for my memoir, so I consider myself a plantser. You'd think I would know what happened in my life, but there are so many moments to choose from that having a structure is helpful. I leave it loose though so I can throw in as many flashbacks as I'd like. How's NaNo going for you so far?

Lizizme said...

I'm a big time pantser. Everytime I try to write an outline, it stresses me, as if I will be in big trouble if I don't follow it exactly. (I know, I know, but after all these years writing, I still can't help feeling that way.) The closest I come to being comfortable with any kind of a plan, is making bullet points of ideas I can use in a story. I agree, the freedom to follow and sometimes nudge is fantastic, and works for me.

Nicole Pyles said...

@Sioux - hahaha, I had to laugh; I'm sure I've written a lot of stories without pants either. And I sure hope so! If I start out knowing how I'd like the story to end, it helps me a lot actually. Knowing my destination helps me a lot.

@Angela - Ha, I like that "plantser." I can understand the need to outline a memoir for sure! I notice if I really am reckless with my pantsing approach, I get kind of aimless. It does help a lot in some cases! NaNo is slow, but I think I'm hoping to finish the previously unfinished but figuring out where I intended for the story to go is kind of tough. Here's hoping I keep it up!

@Lizizme - I feel the same way! It's like I've been given an SAT exam or something when I outline. It's no fun at all!

Renee Roberson said...

I'm a total pantser--in a past life, I was probably one of those writers who sat around with a drink in my hand, plopped in front of my typewriter and waiting for "the muse" to hit. I've tried outlining, and it works pretty well when I do it, but it's not my favorite way to write fiction, for sure.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I think outlines have been given a bad rap...takes us all back to school days and a rigorous devotion to the Roman numerals, then capital letters, then numbers, then small letters outline. Am I right? Hahahahha!

But if I'm writing more than 2,000 words, I have an outline of sorts. Usually, I know where I'm starting and where I want to end up. But the getting there changes quite a bit as I write. And now that I think about it, I change the beginning of ANYTHING I write about three times.

And with a novel...ugh. Way more than three. It's tricky, knowing where to start.

The point is, true pantsing--the process of sitting there and seeing which way things go--is a wee bit stressful for me. I guess I feel like the nuns are standing over my shoulder, making a face. (And not a good face.) So I'm somewhere in between.

As for Nano, I needed to do some revision work and in a burst of 6 or 7 hours of writing, I got 'er done. So I'm feeling pretty good about those 5,000 words, give or take a thousand. :-)

Nicole Pyles said...

@Renee - Ugh, I've done that same waiting and it doesn't work as effectively as I like to! I do wish I could find some sort of happy medium with outlining. I'm sure I will one day ;)

@Cathy - Haha, I totally remember those classic outlines. I think that's the only thing I can think of when I attempt it. And same goes for me too, if I know the ending of the story, that's half the battle right there. And way to go for NaNo!!

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