I’ve always been a cross between a plotter and a pantser. For those unfamiliar with the terms, a “plotter” plans stories and a “pantser” writes as the words come. I typically have an idea for a story, then I write a list of the major events in the story. I also spend some time fleshing out the main characters, then I start the story.
However, I’ve been finding the more planning I do, the more it slows down my writing, sometimes to the point of almost hampering it. And it’s not that planning takes away my enjoyment of writing … I enjoy spontaneity, it’s true, but that’s not the main problem.
The thing is, when I have a plan for anything, I have this “vision” in my head for how it will be. It happens with my plans for stories, as well as my plans for films. But it’s inevitable that what I write, at least in my first draft, simply cannot live up to my vision. It often turns out much differently from what I expect. And this paralyses me: it fills me with the fear that I will ruin this perfect story in my head – I will never do it justice. I will butcher the characters. That makes me unable to write, or when I do, I am constantly censoring myself and upset at how different my writing is from my vision.
I think that’s why I find it much easier to write songs and music, as opposed to writing – because I don’t make any plans. I don’t think about it in my head before writing the words down. I just sit at the instrument and let the words come and I take what I get. Most of it is shit. The large portion of the rest is mediocre. But ultimately, I find something that makes me feel something – I find something that accurately expresses my feelings.
And that can happen too with writing stories. But not when I sit down at the computer with a head full of expectations. My expectations are too high. No one can expect a writer to write wonderfully in the first draft. Besides, how can a writer translate her thoughts – her dreams, her visions, and her ideas – accurately onto paper? Can it be done? It’s the writer’s constant struggle.
Maybe it can. I don’t know. What I do know is that simply writing can unlock gems of feeling and real raw beautiful words.
So that’s why I’m starting to write differently now. I’m writing without a plan, without even a fully formed idea. I get a spark and I just run with it, without thinking.
I cannot think too much. I always overthink things.