I remember the moment I understood that my writing is art. It came after watching a YouTube video of Neil Gaiman give a speech to a graduating class. Prior to that, I believed art was created by masters who worked a lifetime producing museum quality pieces. What a thrill to know that I am creating art.
But my discoveries didn’t stop there. As I set out to, per Neil’s advice, make good art, I found that what I wrote kept changing. Fortunately, it changed for the better. I learned some things that I’ll definitely employ and other things that I’m sure will not work for me. One thing I came across, and have blogged about before, is pantsing versus outlining.
Let me clarify: I hate labels. Once you label something, you’re obligated to define it. After you define it, you must maintain it. This leads to the messy business of judging someone who doesn’t agree with your label. That causes more labeling of those who aren’t like you.
What I’m saying is, while I still adhere closer to the pantser end of the spectrum, by the end of my novel, I discovered I’m somewhat of an outliner, too. Go ahead and create a label for that, if you dare.
My outlines probably don’t conform to what one might find in a writing workbook or to those created by other authors. However, I have my color-coded, multi-tabbed spreadsheet of information created so that I don’t to forget all the wonderful ideas that flooded my head when I first decided to write a novel. Unlike traditional outliners, my ideas aren’t all solidified prior to the beginning of my writing; I like to surprise myself, leave a little wiggle room, add some things and remove others.
So, maybe I’ve been producing something a little closer to an outline than I originally thought? I can think of two outliners who are probably happy-dancing right now.
I will never judge anyone for the way in which they choose to create their work of art. That would be like criticizing someone for being a hands-on learner while you’re a book learner. In return, I’ll ask the same of everyone else toward me. At the end of the day, we’re all artists.
Today, I’m stocking my Writing Toolbox with a piece from NY Book Editors called Planning to Outline You Novel? Don’t. This one tips the scales toward pantsing. Whatever style you choose to create your novel, just remember that it has to meets your needs.