Ever wondered what your natural novel writing process is? I firmly believe the Plotter vs. Pantser issue comes down to one question – how comfortable are you with not having a plan?
A few years ago my husband traveled to Ireland with a friend. He booked his flight to Dublin and organized a rental car for his arrival. And that was it. He made no hotel reservations and had only a rough route planned for seeing the country.
My husband works a 9 to 5 job where every hour of his day is structured. When he goes on vacation the last thing he wants is more of the same. A fixed itinerary just makes him feels like he’s back at work.
He prefers the freedom to hop in a car, drive until he comes to a place that looks interesting and book his accommodation then. And when he’s decided he’s been in that place long enough, he checks out and drives to the next one that takes his fancy.
I admit this approach has its appeal. However if I’d been embarking on that same trip to Ireland – a place I’d never been – it would’ve made me a little nervous not checking out the accommodation first and making firm reservations ahead of time. What if I got somewhere and there was no place to stay, I would’ve worried. (Mind you, with the amount of Guinness my husband consumed, sleeping in a peat bog probably wouldn’t have bothered him.)
With the accommodation ‘framework’ of my journey in place, I can relax in the knowledge the basics are done and just enjoy myself.
The same applies to writing a novel. For me, facing a day of writing without a plan is too stressful. And when I’m stressed I don’t write my best and can’t enjoy the process as much.
With an outline, even just a loosely-planned route to follow, I’m much more relaxed. It doesn’t mean that route is set in stone and there won’t be surprises along the way.
As with traveling, unexpected things always happen on a novel-writing journey. When they do, I simply alter my outline and proceed on my new course.