|Photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo|
If you are a writer, you know the debate over whether to outline or not to outline, to be a planner or a plunger (or a panster), to stick to a rigid story idea or to write organically. There is no one-size fits all, unless you’re in school and the teacher is telling you so, which unfortunately does nothing to really tap into a writer’s true creativity…but that’s another argument to be had. The point is, everyone is different and everyone creates differently. Once an author offers up a great story for readers to enjoy, does it really matter how they got there?
As for me…I don’t believe I fit the norm when it comes to what people would expect should they actually know me. In life, I am a planner. When it comes to my daily routine, I like to plan, schedule, and be organized so that I can complete and check off to-do lists, and know what to expect. If someone veers me off course, it can sort of ruin my day (I’m trying to learn how to change this aspect of my personality a bit…but it’s still a WIP).
When it comes to writing, I am the alter ego of myself. I’m a plunger, a panster, a very organic story-teller. My stories begin with a thought, a vision, a dream about a character or an idea that just won’t go away. When the character or idea won’t leave me alone, I jot down notes as they come to me but when I finally decide to write the story, it’s like putting a puzzle together without having a photo to go by. Have you ever tried that? I have…it was actually a mystery puzzle I had to put together after reading a short mystery story and it was meant to be difficult for that very reason. It was fun but not easy.
Writing is the same way for me because I am an organic writer, and not able to rely fully on a complete outline. Even if I was able to put together a complete outline, it would change on me. Scratch that, the characters would change it on me. My “outline” is pretty basic…I have certain ideas about what I expect to happen, new characters I plan to introduce and develop, and I have certain mysteries I expect to occur during the novel. But how the ideas happen, whether the characters pan out or how the mysteries are resolved can sometimes come to me on a whim, as I’m writing, or as the characters decide they wish to express themselves. Due to that fact, my outline is created as I’m writing, as it is happening in real time, and so that I can refer to it later as I need to.
Personally, I would rather write without an outline. The creative process is much different, more fun and less rigid than sticking to a strict outline. But that’s a personal preference and not one every writer can employ. When writing organically, you have to give up the idea that you know exactly what to expect or that your story should turn out a certain way. That’s what makes the creative process of writing so much fun. It may be a challenge to write organically but the story can also be as fun to you, and even as surprising, as it is to your readers.
Sounds a little odd, maybe, to anyone who isn’t able to understand the process from this perspective, but that’s the way it is when it comes to how I create. Everyone creates differently, which is actually a good thing. If we all had the same creative process, we wouldn’t be able to learn from one another.
So as I continue to plunge into organic story-telling, I’ve been balancing my time between two books: the fourth in the Jorja Matthews mystery series and also my young adult novel. My focus has been shifting back and forth, depending on which characters speak the loudest. Yesterday the characters from my young adult novel were much more vocal with me, while today it’s Jorja and the others who I’ve been able to focus on. Since I’ve gotten back in the saddle and been able to keep up with a writing schedule, it has been so satisfying to be able to focus on not one, but two novels that I’m excited to share with others. I had thought I may only publish one of these books this year but at this rate, I may be able to publish both. Obviously, only time will tell, but I am excited about not only getting the fourth book in the series out but also publishing a novel in a completely different genre.
Well, time to get back to it. I just wanted to take a break to check in, say hello, and post an update about my progress. It’s a holiday weekend so I’m taking advantage of the time off work to get more writing done.
Have a great week!