This is the month that I write a novel – with no plan. I am officially joining the Pantster tribe and throwing myself into this one with my eyes wide shut and my fingers crossed.
Let me be clear – this is not my natural modus operandi. I am most definately, by nature, a Planner. I am a Virgo with a stationery fetish and a stack of notebooks just crying to be filled with dreams and ideas.
Why write a novel with no plan?
However, I had a terrible epiphany last month. And it was this: I am often so thorough in my planning that by the time I come to write I am completely over it. It has become like entering into a romantic liaison having already watched the whole disaster panning out ahead of me. By the time I have planned those darlings, I couldn’t care less about the main character, and tension?…. meh, not happening.
You see I have a sneaky suspicion that planning had become, for me, a very subtle form of what I term, Productive Procrastination. You know, the type of procrastinative activity at the end of which you have something, and nothing, to show for your time. And I wanted to try something different.
So, what is the alternative? Pantsting. Literally writing by the seats of my pants. No outline. No scene by scene plot arcs. No orchestrated tension. I was just going to throw myself into it and hope for the best.
The scene was set. I had made the trailer. It was scheduled in my Filofax. Systems were go, go, go.
But somewhere in between deciding to do it and actually doing it, I found myself in a maelstrom of self-doubt. What should I write? What genre should I write in? Was I writing to sell, or writing for me? Should I finish the other novels first? Should I revive my very brief foray into erotica? Should I? Should I? Should I?
So Day One was, in sporting terms, a No Show. Rain Stopped Play, and all that. Not that I wasn’t thinking about the whole thing. Not that I wasn’t beating myself up like a gangland boss, and reprimanding myself for my lack of action. But words on page? Nada. Nothing. Sweeeeet FA.
So Monday arrived. Which was kind of like Day One, only it was by now, Day Two (are you still with me?) The scene was set. Kids were at school, I was heading home to write, but blow me, if a sneaky new novel idea hadn’t crawled into my brain overnight. Like an earwig, this idea was gnawing away – munchie, munchie, munchie – and to cap it all, the blinking sun was shining.
Well, I ask you, what’s a woman to do but take herself to the beach to ‘live in the moment’ for a little while. Well, an hour and a half later, I was back at the car and ready to return to my post. I was Ready To Write.
Or so I thought. Because then something very strange happened. I had laptop freeze, which for those who don’t know is when I go to turn on my laptop but I just cannot do it. Something stops me. I don’t want to be tied to the keyboard. This frolicking little pony in my mind says, ‘don’t do it! stay free, my beauty, stay free, neighhhh, prrrrr’.
Which is, quite evidently, a problem.
Or is it? Because my answer to this conundrum was pretty darned radical. I have gone…. ANALOGUE, my friends. We are talking notebook, pen, armchair. Old School Portability.
“Paper and pen?” you cry. “Are you nuts?”
Well, it would appear that yes I am. But here’s the thing. It is working.
First session of the novel with no plan: 2400 words.
Which I think can officially be called – A START!
So what say you? Fancy joining me? Fancy freeing yourself up from the orthodoxy of planning and venturing into the crazy unknown. Want to pick up a pen and just start writing?
Let’s do this thing.
All comments gratefully received. Show me I am not alone in this. Please….