Throw the Rules Out the Window and Write the Damn Book!

July 25, 2012

The title is misleading. It’s not really “the rules” I’m struggling with. It’s the process. Plotter vs. Pantser. These two fools are always at war inside my head. When I started writing fiction, Miss Pantser reigned. She was carefree—giddy even—and never second guessed the twists and turns she put on paper…that is until she received her first rejection and her second and her third. (You get the idea.) That’s when Ms. Plotter came to the “rescue” with encouragement like this: Buck up. Buckle down. Take a workshop on plotting. Take a workshop on characterization. Take another workshop. Take one more. You’ll be fine.

What Ms. Plotter was really saying—and Miss Pantser was too naïve to hear—was change the way you’ve been writing. Change is hard. Still, Miss Pantser agreed to be “coached” by Ms. Plotter until plotting was the name of the game.

Plotting sucks. I’ve never questioned myself more than when I’m plotting. Should I go here? Should I take it there? Maybe I’ll start over again. Honestly, there are too many options!

I’m at the cusp of rewriting at least 10 chapters of this manuscript, and I have little more than an inkling of where I want this story to go. I’ve taken some notes, but I’m resisting plotting. I’ve given myself permission to “pants,” but I my poor pantser is broken. What the hell is going on?

Fear. Nicole comes after me every once in a while with that little word—fear. She sees through my excuses. She knows when I’m stalling because I’m afraid the effort I put forth won’t be good enough. She knows, because she’s been there.

So what am I afraid of?

I’m afraid of:

Doing it wrong.

Missing the great story in the mass of suck I’m assembling.

Being stuck in this literary limbo, where I’m writing, but I’m like a mouse on a wheel—round and round without any purpose or achievement, simply falling off when I get dizzy or sick.

Finding out I wasn’t good enough all along.

There’s a lot more to fear, I’m sure. But I had to pull the plug on that depressing thought stream. It’s painful to list my worries. It makes me want to escape…you know what’s funny? Writing is my escape. (There’s the purpose.)

So…Miss Pantser and Ms. Plotter can take their drama elsewhere. And rules be damned. I’d rather write than worry.

Elley

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