Planning to be a Pantser

I saw a post on Facebook last week about creativity. Like most of the things I read on the social media platforms, it was very transitory – it floated past my eyes along with messages about book launches, pictures of people enjoying their New Year celebrations, and clips of cute cats/dogs/platypuses (well, there was only one platypus, but it was really cute). So I’m ashamed to say that the author’s name didn’t register with me – and nor, for that matter did the words themselves. But the sentiment must have stuck – as I keep coming back to it. It was a pithy comment about writers needing to stop planning and just let go, to give creativity a chance. (If anyone recognises, the quote, do let me know, I’d love to read it properly.)

I’m an inveterate planner, as anyone who read last week’s post will know. I write lists, draw up project plans, think things through in my head all the time. In fact, I’m writing a book at the moment which has a section just devoted to planning. My first novel stalled for months at chapter six until I sat down and mapped out the story in detail.
 
But there is a tiny part of me that wants to let go, run free, see where the words take me. The weekly Write Invite competition is a chance to do just that: thirty minutes to write on one of three themes and the best submitted wins a prize. I’ve won a couple of times in the past year or so, but I’ve ended up with a whole stock of protostories which I can then play around with to my heart’s content. In fact Composition for Two Left Feet, which won first prize in the Write Stars Manchester Madness competition, started life that way.
 
My plans for this year include huge amounts of marketing and a lot of editing and rewriting, not the most creative of activities. So I’ve signed up for the 100K in 100 Days challenge as well, but unlike NaNoWriMo, I don’t plan to write anything specific. I’m dipping into a random selection of writing prompts, so I have no say in what I write about, and using this as my warm-up exercise each morning. It feels wonderful to just let go and see what happens. (I guess anyone who does the ‘morning pages’ exercise will recognise this feeling.) At the moment, I am well ahead of target and have several pieces of flash fiction and memoir waiting to be polished at some point. And, what’s more, I find I can write much faster when there’s nothing blocking or judging what’s coming out. So, that’s it for this week; I’m off now to play with my creativity.
 
What about you? Are you a planner or a pantser – or a bit of both?

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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