13 July

Don't Be a Pantser, Don't Be a Pantser Enabler - Here's Why...

Can you visualize the angry pantser mobs beating on my front door right now? Bet you can...


Hey, where's the spice in life if a truckload of hate mail doesn't fall?

Seriously, I'm being serious here. The core of this post delves into the Group Think, Peer Pressure psychological. 

Whodathunk? Me talking shrink-speech when it comes to finishing manuscripts... ;-)

In a room full of new writers, I'll venture that upwards of 80% espouse the pantser method of pounding the keys — writing by the seat of your pants, free-wheeling tale churning... WHEEEE!!! So much fun, they all shout with key-clacking glee!

And when the dust settles on that newbie hacking party, about the same percentage will go on with their lives, a) having those unfinished manuscripts stay that way until death, or b) finishing the draft, feeling an unrealistic sense of pride, and be left with a universe full of major plot developmental and line edits, the monumental fear to correct still leaving that manuscript unfinished until death, or c) slogging through the self edits, only making a sheer mess of things that untold bucks will have to be shelled out for a pro editor to fix, the trauma of which ends up making that pro editor a devout alcoholic, shelling out those bucks on cheap saloon drink until death.

Hey, stop snickering. Stuff like a) and b) happen all the time, and for sure c)... *BURP!*

People who start out in this m├ętier feel more secure with others around them thinking and doing the exact same thing, even if that belief and those actions are detrimental to their ultimate goal. It's how you gain a ton of fake friends, and a ton of unfinished manuscripts. To write to the beat of a more efficient drummer gets you no Congeniality award with your fellow newbies, but garners you a finished manuscript, as you realized the benefits of abandoning the pantser life for the plotter, and formulated a sound storyline well before one word was typed.

To be a plotter gets you,

  • less plot/character black holes
  • less writing yourself into plot corners
  • leaves a manuscript with far less post draft self edits
  • costs you far less in pro editor fees 

But new writer fears and doubts often supersede efficiency, as to be surrounded by others who support your wayward way of writing is more emotionally uplifting than the writing itself... right up until those new writer friends crawl back into the woodwork, and leave you with unfinished works and no literary success other than to boast that you and your pantser buddies had great fun enabling one another to book publishing failure.

Yay! I'm an unsuccessful writer! I'm adored by my unsuccessful writer buds! 

*Sigh...*

At this point, do you even remember WHY you decided to write a book in the first place?

Wasn't it, oh, I don't know, to competently finish your manuscript and publish said book?

All addictions stem from the need to escape — escape from fears, doubts, hard work and exhaustion from that hard work. We enable, and are enabled in, these addictions, so such terrifying realities never have to be faced.

To be a pantser is simply to be addicted to fun

As a pantser, you do not have to focus to craft a competent tale. It invites you to wantonly type, write, without a formulated thought in your head, pretending to actually get the work done — filling umpteen pages full of meaningless words — when all you're really doing is writing yourself into a big fat editorial mess. That's how professional editors get rich. Who's laughing now? Betcha it's that drunk editor who shall be nameless...

The Key: Get real with yourself. Get real with the art. Get real with the work.

The Question: do you truly want to finish your book, or would you prefer to keep your head buried in the sand with all your other newbie writer buds? Somebody in this group has to be the first to say the emperor wears no clothes. Will it be you? Will your desire to finish that manuscript supersede your need to be liked by wannabes?

HOMEWORK: Face facts. Accept the proper writer process. Do the plot/character building work. Create a sound story foundation that will easily carry you to The End, and won't make your pro editor become a straight-jacketed Bellevue-visiting drunk. Decide to teach your newbie pantser friends by quiet example. When they see you publishing your first book, then your third, and then your seventh, and raking in those nice royalty bucks, while they're red penning their first crummy draft ad infinitum, word will get around that being a happy-go-lucky pantser isn't all that lucky, and eventually you'll gain true wordsmiths as lifelong friends, and lose the pantser addiction and accompanying enablers.

Does this post, and my way of thinking, writing, make me out to be a 4-star b*tch with devout pantsers? Heck ya. But,

  • Finished books I've published — in the literary genre, covering history, politics, and crime, and in children's adventure memoir and non-fiction markets.
  • Royalties I'm earning.
  • True artist friends I've acquired, those who long ago accepted reality, embraced the eternal Stage Fright fears and doubts, and did the hard work, despite.
  • A professional editor I have who doesn't hate me for the colossal draft mess I don't send her.
  • A bank account not pilfered by said pro editor, who rightfully demands $1 million dollars for the 1 million draft gaffes I could have avoided not being a pantser.

Great artists never became great being clingy groupies, my fellow Wordies. Art creation is often a lonely row, hard-hoed, until the greatness quietly shows in a wee thing I like to call a published book.

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