Wednesday, 7 May 2014

IWSG: Going with the Flow



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

Last month, I took part in the 2014 Blogging from A to Z challenge, and as a result, I was unable to post as part of the group. But if I had been able to squeeze the time between work and the Challenge, I am sure my post would have gone along the same lines with what I have shared in past months, which is that I am not writing nearly as much as I should be.

So, not to risk sounding like a broken record, I'd rather spend the remainder of this post focusing on something else entirely. And that thing is knowing when to throw in the towel. As writers, it is never easy accepting any kind of defeat. It could be something as simple as having to rewrite a scene, or something more substantial, like having to bring down the axe on a story that just isn't working.

For years now, I've been working on a particular story that has undergone more changes than Michael Jackson's nose. The present form of the story bears little resemblance to the one I originally set out to write. And I feel that the fact that I am still trying to marry these two disparate stories into one is seriously holding it back. It's high time I let loose and just allow the story go where it wants to go, rather than where I think it needs to be by the end of everything.

I guess my problem boils down to the fact that I tend to get quite rigid with my outlines. I've never been a pantsers. I prefer the structure that a well-thought-out outline brings to a story. But the very best ideas are the ones that hit you out of nowhere, while you're sitting in front of the computer and typing away. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to learn how to go with the flow by tapping into such bursts of inspiration more often.

What about you? Are you a pantsers or a plotter, or perhaps somewhere in between?

18 comments:

  1. I always design a detailed outline, but as I write, the story often strays a bit. I let it. Usually turns out better than what I'd originally planned anyway.

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    1. I sorta follow the same pattern myself, except this particular story seems to be demanding way more legroom than I am used to giving.

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  2. I'm a bit of both. I use a general outline to keep me going in the right direction, then let my imagination go wild as I get into it. I never look at structure until the chapter is done, then I'll go back and tidy it up a bit and move on.

    I've never given up on a story I wanted to tell, but I have put it on hold for months. I figure I need to build up my skill set then I'll be ready to tackle it again. I say put it away--for now and look at it again after you've grown some. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I usually like to get most of the story down in the first draft, but I can see the advantage of going back to make structural corrections in subsequent drafts.

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  3. My style of writing probably falls between the two; I tend to have a general direction in mind for my major characters, the setting, and opening plot line. My first novel had so many changes, especially the opening, it was hard to recognize. (I learned the hard way not to let others wring the life out of a story.) My third novel started out with fewer planning and the major opening twist was such a surprise to me, I couldn't stop laughing/crying with satisfaction. Ah, the joys of writing. AtoZChallenge was definitely a challenge!

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    1. Yes it was, Gail. And thanks for sharing your experiences; I know what you mean by a feeling of satisfaction. It's like watching all the tiny pieces of the story fall into place.

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  4. I do fall in between. I start with a rough outline, and then I sit down and write from point A to point B to point C and so on. The trick is finding what works. :)

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    1. That's right, Margo. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  5. Hi Michael! I've always been a pantser. I think it's amazing that you're a plotter and yet are prepared to give pantsing a try. I've never met anyone who was willing to be flexible on it. Go you!

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    1. Thanks, Yvette. At this point, I am willing to try whatever it takes to tell the story the way it ought to be told.

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  6. I'm a very definite pantser, in life as well as writing. I just hope my pants don't rip when I bend over, because that's embarrassing.
    I hate writing outlines. I am literally traumatized by them. My sixth grade teacher was an evil man who hated children. I think he cooked those who strayed onto his lawn and ate them. I'm amazed that he didn't put me off writing entirely. I always loved writing, but I learned to hate writing anything for his class. He had us write an outline for our story, from which we were not supposed to deviate very much. However, if there was no deviation, he knew we had written the story first, and we received a failing grade. I was in tears for much of my sixth grade year. However, even though I'm a sensitive soul, I've always had this little bit of Inner Asshole protecting me from people like this man. I resolved not to let him destroy my love for writing. The failing grades he gave me on my work didn't matter.
    My Insecure Writer Whinge is here.

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    1. LOL, Cara. I've had quite a few teachers that matched that profile, so I know what you mean. :)

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  7. I'm glad you realized the story was taking over, and that you had to let it.

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    1. Thanks, Tony. Now to take that discovery and turn it into actual words.

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  8. I'm just a reader of stories and look forward to seeing where your story goes. My personal blog is just that. personal stuff *on the A to Z Roadtrip

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    1. Thanks. I'm a reader of stories too, although it takes me forever sometimes to finish a book once I start reading it. :D

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  9. I gave up on my first three stories because, well, they were crap. But, the four one was a charm. I like to think the first three prepared me for the fourth.

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