Confession: I am a pantser

I’ve hit the wall, thrown in the towel, given up on my Camp NaNoWriMo project. Oh, I still plan on completing my novel “Claire”—just not in July. If I believed in writer’s block, I’d have to say this is what I am experiencing. But I know deep down I’m just being plain lazy. And that I set too ambitious a goal.

After all, it is summer and we did just buy a Jeep. A toy that we have gotten maximum pleasure out of in the few weeks that we have owned it, tooling around the scenic roads of Vermont and New Hampshire every available evening, anxious to stumble upon some wildlife, or, absent that, feel the freedom of the wind blow through our (my) hair, removed from the necessities of mowing the lawn and painting the trim on the house. And working on “Claire.”

John, our group’s facilitator, has requested (“suggested”—too passive) that I bring in an outline of the book to the next writing group meeting in two weeks. I readily agreed. Deadlines are my allies. And the outline is half-written anyway. Which may be my source of writer’s block. Assuming I believed in it.

I am a “pantser.” I start writing with a germ of an idea for my work of fiction and then I write. I usually don’t have an outline when I start—that would make me a “plotter.” I prefer for my plot to evolve organically. (I just learned that there are also “plantsers.”)

I’m not alone in this approach. But the plotters will tell you that this only makes more work for us pantsers in the long run, that I’ll need to write a few rough drafts to be where they are after their first rough draft.

Hang in there—I’m getting to my point….

Which is that for Camp NaNoWriMo I decided to write more like a plotter than a pantser, outlining before adding to the 10,000 plus words I had already written for “Claire.” Seemed like more than a good idea. More like a necessity. After all, this is the first book in a trilogy and a thriller. That worked. For a while.

Now that I have a half-finished outline, I’m unable to get back to the story and write. Or even finish the outline. So I’m stuck. Writer’s block. Lesson learned: I am definitely a pantser. What I really want to do is just write the damn book.

I’m relying on my writing group to jump-start my writing. Bring it on!!

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for July 31 so that I officially can announce that I did not win Camp NaNoWriMo 2015.

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About Karen Whalen

A contemporary fiction writer with an accumulation of incomplete novels and short stories, I consider NH "home," spending the summer through Christmas there with my husband. My youngest daughter and her family live nearby (as well as my mother and other family members). January finds us venturing to VA to visit our middle daughter and her family before we make our way to sunny AZ to live with our oldest daughter and family. We spend time in VA on our way home. I am fortunate that my daughters live in places I would have retired to all on my own! My 87 year-old mother asks if I will finish my novel (which one, I wonder) before she dies.....Even with that for a goal, I manage to excel at procrastination!

Posted on July 20, 2015, in blogging, Karen Whalen, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I hear you. I find often trying to plan holds me back. And today I just restarted my Camp NaNo story over because I didn’t even like the one I was writing, but pantsing these next 10 and a bit days is the only way I’ll ever hit 30k (I’ll probably pass out at the end but oh well). But sometimes it is good to know when it’s better to just do it on your own terms too (and not be pointlessly stubborn like I am). Hope you enjoy the return to pantsing and writing your story! 🙂

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  2. We’ll fall in the battle line together. I’ll never make 25,000 words, even combining work on Eliza1 and Eliza 2. But I too have half an outline. I really, really want to see yours — and according to good nursery practice, I’ll show you mine. Haven’t tried writing from the outline yet. I’m afraid it would put me off finishing Eliza 1.

    ACHING to be back with the writing group!

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    • And we are ACHING to have you back!! Seems like forever though it hasn’t been that long….

      I believe there will be three of us doing “show and tell” with our outlines as Eleanor is attempting to replicate your outline format (borrowed from J.K. Rowling)!

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