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A Pantser Goes Planner.

When I used to write creative nonfiction on a daily basis in a blog that essentially constituted an online diary, I never had an issue writing. At the end of the work shift I would at times drive home much in the same way one does when they’re holding in a terrific shit. Once home I would make a pot of coffee, run to the computer and take my psychological dump. I would sip from the warm mug of java, smoke my cigarettes and write in that way that so often brought to me the Flow experience. Just let my mind bleed itself through the rampant tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard.

The reason I did this? Aside from serving as both literary catharsis and psychological alchemy, it was me trying to train myself. I had decided that if I ever wanted to write fiction then I would have to work on concrete descriptions, dialogue, and so on, and if I wrote at least one diary entry a day it may not be fiction, but it was damn good writing practice.

Why was writing about the day to day so easy? Well, I knew where an event began, where it ended. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the tale I wished to convey, before I got home and sat down to write it. I would also take notes throughout the day in a small pad of paper I always kept in my back pocket, or on a napkin or torn off piece of paper. It gave me reason to pay attention throughout the day, to endure the oft-wretched contents of my experience, to cleanse myself of life’s shit and perhaps transmute that shit into something I, and hopefully others, could find valuable, at least in the sense of being amusing.

Eventually the daily life lost its inspiration. I turned to focus my writing on other issues.

Now, for November, I want to try my hand at writing a 50k book of fiction. I feel the need to make an outline, too, which would be consistent with my creative nonfiction. Can Outlining a fictional story be that much different than writing about your daily experiences when night finally falls?

The diary experience supports the notion that outlining in fiction is not stifling, or at least not necessarily so, but can provide you with the structure you will later be writing within. It’s like a map in that it tells you not only where you are going but just how the fuck it is that you get there, and with a person like me who is so horrid when it comes to following driving directions that he is convinced that he has some directional form of dyslexia, that can come as quite the vital resource.

In essence, an outline would enlighten me as to the acceptable boundaries of my investigations. The boundaries in which it can productively wander.

This could help. My mind likes to wander.

I should have outlined this entry, actually…


2 responses to “A Pantser Goes Planner.

  1. I outlined a novel for NaNo once…when I was at 25k words I’d gotten through my entire outline. O.O Whoops. I have a very basic outline for this year, and that’s only because I worked on this novel in a class in college a couple years ago haha. Good luck!

  2. binjimin

    Thank you — I may need that luck!

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