Over the years I have tried and failed numerous times to write drafts of my novels to completion, spending copious amount of times perfecting every word, sentence and paragraph of my story during the planning and draft stages.
In the end the same thing happens. I give up, all the enjoyment of the story sucked out of me, before moving onto the next idea that will inevitably meet its doom.
I have always been a planner. Since deciding at the tender age of 15 that I wanted to write stories, I’d planned every detail, spending time on every little aspect of my novel to be. From the characters, to the world, the plot, scenes and even some of the dialogue, I wouldn’t begin writing my first draft until I knew almost everything about my story.
This way of writing has stayed with me all throughout the years. When a new idea pops into my head, the process begins. I write all of my ideas down as they come to me. When I am satisfied with the plentiful plot, character and story ideas I’ve splurged onto the page, I start to structure those ideas by creating full character charts for each character, world-building and plotting each scene of my story from beginning to end. Only then would I start writing the draft, carefully crafting each word and sentence, rewriting each sentence as I went along.
The problem is that I never fully enjoyed this process and inevitably, I’d run out of steam to the point that working on the story felt like a chore, rather than something to enjoy.
I absolutely love writing down all my ideas and fleshing out my characters. I’d say this is my favourite part of the process, when my ideas are still so raw. Allowing my imagination to run wild on the page without any care for coherency or structure in the early stages is thrilling for me.
It is the following stages that are not so thrilling. Writing every plot point, scene and aspect of the world.
What I later realised when I briefly undertook a creative writing course at university, is that I never allowed myself the opportunity to write bad. I was the person who had to rewrite what I’d written after writing a page or two of my draft. It had to be perfect, or else I couldn’t move on. Even when I first started this blog, I’d used these same methods and in the process, I’d gradually lost interest in blogging.
The reason for this struck me as I’d started to experiment a little during lockdown, writing non-stop without stopping to edit, or correct my typos. Maybe I wasn’t a planner at all.
Turns out, I found (and still find) great enjoyment in writing without structure. Without worrying about the word or sentence I have written, or about if it makes sense. To stop being afraid of all the imperfections and WRITE. Allowing myself to write bad and worry about the editing LATER. Even if it was complete garbage it didn’t matter. After all, that’s the only way to become a better writer.
So while I enjoy the initial stages of planning, planning every little detail leaves me bored and unmotivated to carry on with my story.
That’s how I know I am not a planner. Not even a pantser. I am somewhere in between.
What would you say that you were? A planner or a pantser? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed reading!