Thursday, September 8, 2011

Doing It On Demand

In my interview with Lexcade a couple of days ago, I professed to being a plotter rather than a pantster. And while that’s true for a lot of my writing, sometimes I do strip off my plotting gear and pull up my take-me-where-they-will pants.

Take blogging. I used to have a fairly structured blogging life. Monday through Friday was devoted to critiquing queries and synopses. I didn’t have to think about what topics I would post about except on the weekends. Even then it might be something about the writing biz one weekend and something about my beasties the next. Pretty easy for someone whose idea bank is, well, not really limited so much as slow. I’m usually late to the trending stuff and I hate to just repeat what everyone else has already said. What’s the point in that?

With the break from critting, I set a goal to come up with a writing/publishing topic on this blog three times a week along with a farm story and Vet Tech Tale each week for the Animal Junkie blog. Eek. Having the schedule and a deadline play right into my plotter frame of mind, but coming up with things to talk about? That’s where pantster me sometimes has to jump in.

I know YOU don’t care if I follow my schedule, but I care about meeting deadlines – even those I’ve imposed myself. And gosh-darn-it, I’ve agonized at times over what I would post about. For example, Tuesday night I went to bed mad at myself that I hadn’t scheduled anything to post overnight on the Animal Junkie blog. I hope to have the calendar full for guest posts every Wednesday once that blog matures, but for now the Wednesdays I don’t have guests are a bit free-form. I woke up settled that I would just make another plea for guest posts. How lame is that? Especially for, you know, a writer.

Then I sat down and pantster me took over and wrote a post that I had no idea I was going to do. It even had my farm-story voice with a totally in-brand beginning and end. How’d that happen? (And please happen again next time too!)

And then, of course, that little excursion brought me around to this post, which yesterday I would never have imagined. Serendipity -- or something else?

When it comes to producing on demand, do you surprise yourself sometimes too?


Whirlochre said...

I surprise myself every time I look in a mirror.

My problem with pantsing is that I can easily let it get out of hand and end up writing reams of stuff i can't use.

My preferred method at the moment is to have a rough plan with plenty of scope for tangents — that way I can switch between planner and pantser with the deftness of gibbon stripper changing costumes behind its fan.

Just working on a semi-planned story which has pantsed beautifully in such a way that I don't have to go all the way back and reinvent its working universe.

lexcade said...

I'm a pantser by nature. I tried to outline my current WIP and have strayed so far from the admittedly vague outline that it's not even the same book anymore. Typically, if I get into a rut or have NO IDEA where I'm going, I'll outline. It tends to be a last resort.

Kay said...

I can't tell you how much I relate to this post. I love the weeks where I have my posts for the week written and scheduled before the week begins. But that's happened maybe, I don't know . . . once.

This especially hits home today. I decided to find a great 9/11 graphic to post tomorrow (since I don't blog on the weekend). I found lots of free graphics and spent way too much time perusing them. Then I decided to write a small paragraph, which became two . . . I think I ended up with close to 400 words. Shorter than my usual posts, yes, but much more than I had intended AND much more time consuming.

I'm a total pantser. I wouldn't know a plot if it bit me on the pantser. In fact, I'm not even sure I'm a writer at all. I create characters and THEY create the plot. When I think I know where I'm going, the characters usually change the direction, so I've learned to spend my time creating fabulous characters and just taking dictation to tell their stories.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Most times I'm a pantser. One of the WIPs I'm working on now started life as a pitch for a contest and was never meant to be a real manuscript. So it's sort of a plotted pantsing thing. That seems to be working well for me.