ideas take life in Words
A blog following the works (and shenanigans) of J.E. Klimov
A “Pantser” with OCD?
I am taking a break from writing the sequel to my soon to-be-published novel. Why, you ask? Firstly, I will ask if you know what a “pantser” is. If you are in the writing community, you know full well who pantsers are.
There are generally two types of writers, “pantsers” and planners. Planners are pretty self-explanatory. They are authors who outline their plot, knowing the when, where, and how. Planners have the blue-print of their novel ready before their pen hits the paper. (Or fingers hit the keyboard). A pantser is a term borrowed from the saying ‘flying by the seat of your pants’. These writers have a general idea about what their novel is about…and that’s pretty much it. Once an idea blossoms in their mind, pantsers run with it, typing incessantly, not knowing where their words will take them.
After working on my second novel, I have discovered that I am a pantser through and through. The funny thing is, I have OCD. And not the OCD that people joke that they have. I have full-fledged obsessive-compulsive disorder in which I check things multiple times, fix things that aren’t straight, and must have everything facing the same way. One would think that a person with OCD would fit right in with the planner community.
When the idea of my first novel came to mind, I wrote like crazy. I knew my main character, and I created an antagonist I fell in love with. I also knew the general concept, but not once did it cross my mind to outline my chapters (considered a best practice). When I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I literally flew by the seat of my pants. With adrenaline thundering through my veins, I was adamant in writing 50,000 words. There was no time for outlining! Chapter after chapter, I had achieved my 50,000 words, and I continued to hit 100,000 words fairly quickly after that.
The downside was the amount of revisions I had to make. All those plot holes I missed. In order to avoid these pitfalls, I did some research and learned about pantsers and planners. I decided to write my second novel with the approach of a planner. I wrote character profiles, drew maps, and wrote summaries for every single chapter. And yet, it did not satisfy my OCD. In fact, when I sat down to write, my fingers faltered. Numerous times. I kept referring back to my book of notes and told myself ‘Okay. So, this is supposed to happen to him. She will do this. Etc’, and I felt…restrained. I was overthinking of what I should fit into each chapter that I hit that dreaded writer’s block wall more times than I can count.
I think this is an important exercise for most writers: try out each method and see what fits you the best. Sometimes we get so caught up in the mechanics of writing, we end up getting stuck and frustrated. If one method fails you, try the other. I think both pantsers and planners write equally astounding books- but the question is, which one are you?
As for me, I accepted myself as a full-fledged pantser. OCD and all.
4/6/2017 03:30:10 am
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