Sometimes, I don’t understand myself.
Scratch that, frequently I don’t understand myself. And all the personality tests and meditation and soul searching wont help. I like weird things. I do weird things. I find strange things beautiful. Sometimes I understand why. Most times I don’t.
It’s just how it is.
Which can make pantsing an… unusual experience. For me, pantsing is hypnotic. I’m not really thinking about what I’m writing, not actively mentally narrating what comes next. I’m just writing. Things happen, and they’re not actively decided on. Some corner of my mind goes, that seems like fun, and I write it down.
That corner of my mind is not regulated, so some strange things slip into my stories. Things like magical kitchen appliances and giant cats you saddle up and ride like a horse. Or like personal inter-dimensional pockets to store stuff you don’t want to carry around. Or like magical soup that grants wishes.
So, not all great ideas. But all weird ideas.
But writing shouldn’t be predictable. You shouldn’t be meticulous crafting it (well, you could, but that’s no fun). You should be open to ideas and epiphanies and the occasional stroke of genius. Granted, not every idea will be gold (for examples, see above), but every now and then there’s a glimmer of the good stuff.
Following your writing whims is what first drafts are all about. Weeding out all the terrible magic soup ideas is what editing is all about.
Now, as this is the month before NaNoWriMo, a lot of people are rushing to outline their projects. I’m one of them. Which, given that I just stated the awesomeness of pantsing, can be confusing. Here’s the thing: I like pantsing in concept. I like the freedom. I suck at it, though.
I am a crappy pantser. It’s kind of pathetic how much I can wander, writing-wise (I mean, magic soup should have tipped you off how bad I can get). I need a nudge every now and then to stay on track. Which is my balance: the freedom to mentally wander, and a rough outline to lead me back in the right direction.
But everyone has their own balance on the spectrum between plotting and pantsing. It takes a while and several failed attempts to figure out where you fall on the spectrum, but when you do, the writing gets easier, the story gets stronger, and your project gets better.
Just like magic.
Sound off in the comments: what’s your magic writing balance?