Bouncing off the walls should be a familiar sensation to writers, whether it’s due to the excitement of a new story or a result of downing your forty-second cup of coffee of the day. That yeasty – being full of vitality, productivity, or creativity – feeling that has you clambering for the keyboard, bashing out words faster than your hands should be able to manage, your brain whirring and your stupid body struggling to keep up.
Come on, hands – write faster!
It’s hard to decide whether or not to go at it, hell for leather, and let your brain-fart loose into the world, or stop, take a deep breath, and have a small think about what you’re trying to say.
Sometimes ideas benefit from a bit of percolation, other times it’s best to get everything on paper while you’re still in manic mode.
There are dangers to both.
In manic mode you might not be thinking clearly. It might seem like you’re channelling Writer God as your hands make sweet, sweet love to the keyboard, but in reality you’re going too fast. No pondering or brooding, no assessment or evaluation, just a mega dump of info, so large it makes the Triceratops turd from Jurassic Park look like rat shit.
In analytical mode you risk losing the impetus of the original idea. Whilst standing back and having a good think about where you’re going may lead to a more coherent outline, you might misplace some of the pizazz that got your motor running in the first place.
…the eternal struggle of plotting vs. pantsing.
There are so many articles out there about this subject it seems almost pointless to talk about, yet it still seems to pop up in every conversation, forum, or writing magazine I stick my face in.
Some people swear they live in one camp or the other, a few even claim they live in a murky no man’s land somewhere in between. The truth of the matter is you can change whenever you want. From novel to novel, chapter to chapter, paragraph to paragraph if you so wish!
Plan a bit, pants a bit. Do both, do neither(?), pop your options in a fishbowl and reach in swinger style for a fresh pair of keys every now and again. Swinging is allowed in the writing world, nay, encouraged! Huzzah! And you never have to worry about getting stuck with their keys. You know the ones, the ones that are a little too keen, a little too glassy-eyed *shudder*
When it comes to first drafts I personally favour the ‘…SQUIRREL!’ mode of writing. I scribble pencil across paper, drooling like a mad man, cackling like an evil scientist, then…squirrel! I stop, stare a thousand miles into the distance and crash for a moment, mulling over the rest of the novel. Rain Man style, the entire plot of the book speeds across my mind. Granted it’s going fast to see exactly what goes on, but it’s enough to go back to fevered scribbles until the next squirrel runs across my path.