The Problem with Pantsing

The Problem with Pantsing

I’m told there are two kinds of writers—plotters and pantsers. One will not pick up a pen without the entire book’s blueprint in hand, and the other wouldn’t dream of spoiling the surprise by knowing its destination.

Of course you and I both know these 2 P’s have nothing on the procrastinators who are content to just talk about writing.

Up until now, I’ve been content with these definitions… sitting on my happy sideline, jauntily prattling on each Sunday morning, bolstered by snarky humor and the occasional porta-potty meme.

But I was asked to contribute a story to another anthology, with a theme around the December holiday time, and for some demon-possessed reason I thought I’d try my hand at fiction.

Three weeks later, I’m ready to chop it off, one finger at a time like in the mob movies, for all the good those digits are doing me on the keyboard.

It’s not writer’s block, don’t get me wrong. That’s just a bullshit excuse for the 3rd “P.” Yet I find myself struggling to know what’s going to happen in the next sentence. I might glean a hundred words—maybe two (2 or 200, I’ll leave you to guess)—per session.

Now ten days from deadline, I’ve accrued a handful of characters obsessed with golf, which I know nothing about. They live in Georgia in the political spotlight, which is as far away from my hillbilly upbringing as possible, and my heroine had a double mastectomy that makes my 34DDs want to wither in terror.

How in heaven did ANY of this show up on my page?

I’m blaming it on a realization I had back in 2012 about my very first fictional endeavor, in which I discovered that all my characters sounded like me. The heroine spoke in exactly my voice, the male love interest spoke in my voice with a stilted Greek accent, and his mother had my words coming out of her Dame Judy Dench mouth.

Not a pretty sight, and an even worse read.

So here I am staging a 2500-word coup against old-Demi’s comfort zone. It feels like I’m pantsing while wearing skorts and a girdle.

But you can bet your annual Father’s Day necktie I’m going to be more proud of this accomplishment than a year’s worth of blog posts.

What’s holding you back from trying something scary? Click “reply” and we can commiserate!

Cheers, Demi

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