Wednesday, January 1, 2014

V. L. Dreyer – To Plan or Not To Plan, That Is The Question @VL_Dreyer

There are two kinds of authors in the world – well, no, there are a lot more than that, but as a general rule, authors tend to fall somewhere between two very different ends of the spectrum.

On one end, you have The Planner.  Everything is drafted out in meticulous detail before she even begins her narrative, down to the smallest detail.  For a planner, the most important thing is having her outline absolutely perfect before she sits down in front of the keyboard.  The more organised she is, the more confident she feels.  The idea of running in full tilt with no idea what’s going to happen is a perfect rendition of her worst nightmare – it’s just not going to happen.

The polar opposite of The Planner is The Organic, also known as The Pantser, because she does everything by the seat of her pants.  The Organic plans nothing.  She goes into her new book with a vague idea of what she wants to write about, and comes out the other end just as surprised as you are that everything worked out in the end.  For the Organic, the excitement of writing comes from the unexpected;  the idea of planning takes away all the joy of writing for her.

Now, the point where a lot of young authors fall flat is trying to be something that they’re not.  For a planner, reading about writing strategies used by other authors can be absolutely brilliant!  That new technique she picked up reading her favourite author’s blog is just perfect, and her plan is so much better for it.  If an organic writer who doesn’t know any better finds the same page, she’ll try it, find herself getting more and more bored by it, and then she’ll give up completely and be left thinking that she’s a failure.

By the same accord, a young Planner that befriends an organic writer and lists to her techniques – or lack thereof – but can’t mimic them may end up feeling like a failure as well.  The truth is that neither writer is a failure.  They’re just different.

How do I know this?  Experience, of course.  I’m an organic writer, and I fell into that very same trap for many years.  I thought I had to plan, so I tried and tried, only to find that by the time I had the plan started, I’d lost interest in the whole project.  It wasn’t until I realised what I was that I began to realise that my natural method was perfectly okay.  I’m just different, and that’s fine.

In our very PC modern world, everyone is constantly trying to drum into our heads that it’s okay to be different.  It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is, your religion, or your sexuality.  The same goes for your writing technique.  Whether you’re a planner, an organic, or you somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you persist.  Keep trying until you find what works for you.

Eventually, you’ll strike gold.  Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole.  Don’t try to write romance if your gut says that you should be writing science fiction.  Your instincts will tell you when you’re doing something that doesn’t suit you.

Listen to your instincts.  They know you better than you know yourself.


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Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival

Rating - PG-13

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