Sunday, September 04, 2011

Plotting, Pages, and Pantsing

I am so glad that Jamie Ridler is doing this September morning pages check-in.  It's really been helping me dive back in to my daily pages because when I've been tempted to skip them I remember that I told people I was going to do them every day in September.  And then I sit down, pick up my pen, and get them written.

And because I've been doing my pages for a few days in a row now, I'm starting to dig in to things I need to be focusing on or working on or thinking about.

First, I've been contemplating my writing, especially how I write.  My natural tendency in writing is to be a pantser (you know, writing by the seat of your pants not knowing what's going to happen next).  This is fun.  It also doesn't work for me. I have yet to finish a novel length work this way.  I always peter out partway through, and a big part of this is because I don't have any ideas for what's going to happen next or where I'm trying to go.

I don't every want to plot out every little thing that's going to happen--I think that would bore me and keep me from writing the story because I would already know everything.  But it's become clear to me that I need to do more planning than I have in the past to help me get where I want to be as a writer.  I really need to have a solid foundation of major points in place before I write.  That way, even though I might not know exactly how each scene will play out until I write it, I'll have an idea of what each big scene will be about.  Now I have to figure out a good way to do this sort of planning I think I need if I'm going to manage to actually finish a novel.  So tonight, after I write this, I'm hunkering down with a bunch of books and notes and websites and piece together something that feels right for me.

A lot of my daily pages the past few days have been about my writing and what I need to do to be the writer I want to be.  But I also dredged up some interesting questions that I realized were bothering me enough that they were keeping me away from my daily pages.

See, I used to write in a journal constantly.  I had it with me all the time, along with my arsenal of colored pens, and I would write little bits and pieces here and there plus sit down to really long writing sessions almost every day.  But that was "journaling" or, after I read Natalie Goldberg's writing books, "writing practice."  There was a lot of similarity to morning pages because I did a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing, but there was always the intention of keeping those journals, maybe perusing them at a later time to search out little nuggets of really good description or dialogue or something that I might want to use later.

The morning pages seem to me to be throwaway pages.  They aren't journal pages or writing practice to be kept and possibly used or at least appreciated later.  And I find that I don't like that idea.  I don't like them being just a brain dump with no other purpose.  And so I've given myself permission to do things like play with rhymes and scenery descriptions if I want to and if that's what's on my mind when I sit down to write.  And I'm doing the daily pages in my regular journal along with anything else I feel like sticking in there.  I feel that I'm getting a lot of benefit from doing the pages (as you can see above), so I don't want to get hung up on what is probably, in the end, a really minor bit of semantics.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails