_I've always been a planner--every morning starts with a to-do list (yup, even weekends) and I'm forever thinking down-the-road (it's Wednesday but I'm thinking how to organize the weekend, January fine but we need to nail down summer plans). In the corporate world I had to be a planner--every project was outlined to the tiniest detail. In my personal life I was born to be a planner (thanks, Dad) until I married the anti-planner but that's another story.
Then I had a baby. I started working from home. I started writing. And I kept planning.
For my freelance work, the project management flowed like clockwork. I even managed to keep my days pretty scheduled.
I tackled my writing with that same plan-it-out attitude. After all, the first lesson in writing class was about the importance of outlining your novel. Very important to outline. All writers outline. Okay, that's easy, I outlined annual reports and magazine articles. I can outline! I had a fabulously detailed outline. And I was hopelessly stuck. How could the story not flow when it was all planned out? I tweaked my outline. I banged my head on the desk.
Then I went to a writer's conference and almost fell out of my chair. A writer I've always admired, sat at that long table, looked out at the audience and said "I'm a pantster." The other authors at that table nodded. Guess what--they were pantsters too.
What? These published greats didn't outline their novels? Whoa!
So I tried it. I put that beautifully detailed outline in the drawer. I ignored the twitch in my eye and started writing. And holy guacamole, the words poured out.
I finished that first novel and jumped into number two. With an outline. And stared at the empty word document on the screen. The outline sat on my desk taunting me. I did what any self-respecting planner does. I reworked the outline. And banged my head on the desk some more.
So I tried an experiment--no lists, no organizing, just free-flow. It worked. Well, sort of. The words latched onto the page easily. But the plants started shriveling and the child asked if I was ever going to do laundry again. But the day I spent a small fortune at the grocery and came home without the one thing I really needed--coffee--was the day this experiment skidded to a whimpering stop.
Okay, so maybe I'm not a total pantster. Most mornings now still start with a list again.
When it comes to writing, I let my characters have more say in their stories. I still plan out the story but I don't try to force my characters down a strictly outlined path. I can't totally ignore my Konig genes, though, so I still start with a rough outline. But I'm learning to embrace my pantster side and stop twitching when things don't go as I planned them.
What about you--do you pull on your pants and see where they take you or do you pull on slacks and plot out every step you'll take?