Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trust and Pantsing

image Do you ever continually do something, but then continually forget your MO?

For example, every time I'm feeling unconfident, every time I'm feeling like I'm not seeing the big picture enough, and every time I worry whether or not my story is going to work, I outline.

I can't really call it an outline, actually. I just... write snippets and worry about how I'm going to get there. I then write more snippets, imagine more, and flesh things out until I have a shaky, thin, mental framework.

It was only a few days ago, maybe a week or so, when I was spouting off about planning and outlining, wasn't it? Well, I'm full of crap. I forgot: when I outline, it means I'm scared.

There's always a point in my stories where I have to take that leap, and just TRUST that things will work out. I mean, I've written somewhere around twenty 40-50K novellas. So I know the form. What am I worried about?

image Part of my problem is I've been taking last minute gigs. I've been trying to be a little Dickens and write serially, which means I turn in chapters before the whole thing is done.

This time around, I'm more behind than I've ever been: I've got to turn in Chapter Three on Thursday, and I'm working on Chapter Three. When I've done this before, I've been chapters and chapters ahead.

So I've been trying to see the whole thing a little more, just to be sure I don't screw everything up. I believe that everything should be hooked in the beginning, that threads should be well rooted in the beginning. The beginning is the whole novel, in my mind.

I realized, today, that while this thinking/planning/outlining ahead may be a good idea, at heart, I'm just panicking.

There's a certain point where you just feel everything. If you're in the flow of the story, you just feel when you need a twist. You feel when you need a new thread, when you need to touch base with an old thread, when you need to switch POVs or settings or whatever. It's all there.

I have to take that leap, close my eyes, and just write by the seat of my pants.

Do you have a point in your works where you panic? Do you hide this panic behind something sensible, even though, in your rational state, you know it doesn't work for you? How do you get through the fear?

Must we face down that fear in every single book?

On to good news: Melanie has officially won NaNo! Yay! Congratulations! And since we're on the subject of rocking friends, Zoe just released a free ebook, Kept. Marcia Colette just sold an urban fantasy, and I'm missing something. Oh no, I'm sure I am. Please forgive me! Anymore good news?

23 bonus scribbles:

Zoe Winters 11/26/2008 12:57:00 AM  

Thanks for the shout out!

And Cynthia Eden had her release day for Midnight Sins! :D

As to the rest of your post, I try to remember that sometimes you have to write the crap to get to the good stuff, and a draft of ANYTHING is something to work with. You can't edit thin air.

Of course some days I procrastinate for about three hours and whine and flop around like a fish, but eventually I get to it. And it's not just writing. It's writing, editing, the cover, formatting. You name it, I complain and procrastinate about it. :P

Robin 11/26/2008 07:36:00 AM  

I'm with Zoe. When I panic I procrastinate and whine and whine until something distracts me so I forget I'm panicked, and then I write again.

Amy Nathan 11/26/2008 08:36:00 AM  

First, I love the new look of the blog!

Second, I have about 60 pages to write to finish my WIP. For some reason there's a hint of panic. Can I wrap it all up, bring it to a satisfying close?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Edie 11/26/2008 09:50:00 AM  

I once over-researched for a couple months before starting the book. I realized later that it was fear that made me do it. A way to procastinate. I hardly used any of what I learned. Now I still research, but no more than a couple weeks before jumping in.

Pink Ink 11/26/2008 10:24:00 AM  

The serial thing is bogging me down too.

I am in a writer's group that has some of my stuff already, and I have a hard time finishing my mss thinking, "But if I write it this way, then reader so and so will be so confused". It's kind of good in a way to feed a reader ahead of time, sort of like an ego-stroke, but creatively, it's paralyzing!!

Melanie Avila 11/26/2008 10:40:00 AM  

Thanks Spy. :)

I learned fairly early that I work better if I just get something down on paper and THEN edit. Like Zoe said, you can't improve on what isn't there. I rely on that mentality when I'm getting blocked.

As for outlining, my current novel has been flowing fairly well, so I think I've found a good method for myself. Partial outline, then fill it out as I go.

Liz Wolfe 11/26/2008 11:20:00 AM  

Hi Natasha! I'm in a constant state of PANIC right now. My manuscript is due Dec. 15 and I'm still 30K from completion.
I can't imagine writing serially and turning it in. I have to write the whole thing and then go over it again (and again, and again). Mostly I'm an outliner but with this one, I'm kind of pantsing it. I know where it ends and I'm meandering my way there.

Kath Calarco 11/26/2008 12:08:00 PM  

I panic ever time I look at my WIP. Thank god for Prozac. (Just kidding)

But I do panic in varying degrees. Some days it's a perfect breathe-in-a-paper-bag moment, while others it's just a minor catch-my-breath-and-march-on-in one. Either way, I get over it with a little prodding (Prozac). lol

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:53:00 PM  

Oh, yes, Zoe, you're right! I knew I forgot someone. So much good news to go around.

The thing that worries me, is that I can't go back and edit my chapters. They're in front of readers, and the rest of my story better stay true... yikes!

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:54:00 PM  

Robin, procrastination and whining are highly underrated. They are wonderful, useful, productive tools. Plus they're fun!

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:55:00 PM  

Amy, I loved that book as a child! Everybody did, LOL. Endings are the toughest for me. I've grown to love them, but they are still one of the scariest challenges.

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:55:00 PM  

Edie, I know what you mean. I did it for six months, once. Why don't I recognize it until after?

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:56:00 PM  

Pink Ink, it is hard! And scary! And I can't ever change those chapters, because real readers see it. It's in stone. If I mess up, I screw up the whole story for them!

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:58:00 PM  

So true, Melanie. I've recently come to enjoy making messes and then cleaning them up. There's something about the mess that inspires more creativity.

You are rocking! You have totally been my inspiration this month.

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:58:00 PM  

Liz! Hi! How goes it? I've been thinking of you. I'm 30K from completion, too, with a week. LOL! Oh dear, I really gotta get to work.

Good luck! I'm panicking with you!

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 12:59:00 PM  

Kath, I love that: Catch my breath and march on. I should post that to my desktop, so I never forget it. Good words to live by.

Susan Helene Gottfried 11/26/2008 01:34:00 PM  

Good news?

The Demo Tapes

Embrace the fear, Spy. Use it to power you forward. You'll be fine.

Or else I'll come out there and beat you over the head with my copy of The Demo Tapes.

R.J. Keller 11/26/2008 01:51:00 PM  

Outlines make me panic. I've tried writing the organized way, but it's just not for me. I'm a panster. When I start out I hardly ever write in chronological or chapter order. I jump around for awhile, getting to know my characters, letting them get to know each other. Then get to a point when I say, "Okay, so Male Protagonist's biggest fear is losing his job, eh? Well, then, bye-bye job." And then that has repercussions on his relationship with Female Character A, which leads to Plot and Subplots.

I feel better about my writing when I don't feel like I'm the one in control. I have more confidence in my characters (aka, in my subconscious mind) than I do in an outline my conscious mind comes up with.

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 03:16:00 PM  

Guess what I just did, Susan? I bought it, and sent it to my Kindle. I already gave it 5 stars, but I confess I didn't read it that quickly, LOL. I just know it's worth it. :-)

spyscribbler 11/26/2008 03:17:00 PM  

R.J., this is the way I write, but it makes me panicky. I like things organized and neat and orderly. But that doesn't happen until I'm done.


I love finishing a book. It sure is a lot of work to get there.

Heather Harper 11/26/2008 11:23:00 PM  

"There's a certain point where you just feel everything."

Yes! That's it exactly. Faith, trust, and action.

Anonymous,  12/01/2008 06:56:00 PM  

Thanks for the shoutout, girlfriend! I lurrrrves me some good news even if it isn't my own. ;-)

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