Monday, April 18, 2016

are you a wave runner or a tree hugger?

Are you a wave runner...

...or a tree hugger?

This issue came up over the weekend at a retreat I attended with a friend.

We found ourselves with some free time and we had to make a decision: Should we head over to the beach (even though it was too cold to put even a toe into the water), or should we head to the park and walk in the woods?

In the end, we ended up at the water's edge...because she had the car.

I am a tree hugger. I love the woods. When I need peace of mind or strength for the day, I like to lean on a tree. After all, trees are rooted deep in the the Earth. They survive right where they're planted, even though they don't have any choice in the matter. They weather the ravages of Mother Mature--wind, rain, and drought, and they change with the seasons. I think we can learn a lot from trees. They are wisdom, and strength, and support to me.

My friend, on the other hand, is a wave runner, drawn to the water. When we got to the beach, she kicked off her shoes and planted her feet in the sand. For her, the ocean is cleansing, soothing, rejuvenating.

She has her source...and I have mine. She prefers one thing...I prefer another.

This is important to understand if you're a writer. It raises the age old question: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Do you sketch out your entire story before you write the narrative? Or do you plunge right into the story, then let it develop as you go?

I am a tree hugging pantser, myself. My mind wanders when I write. I can't work out every detail in advance. After all, how do I know where my characters will take me until they figure it out for themselves?

Nevertheless, as hard as it is for me to outline a book, I gave it my best effort last week. I'm working on a non-fiction manuscript that, I thought, lent itself readily to an outline: Chapter--point, point, point. Chapter--point, point, point. The problem is I would start to make a point, but  the narrative would carry me away. I just kept writing until, before long, the whole chapter was written. I hadn't thought about what should come next. Before I knew it, I was pages into the book in true pantser form.

Plotting and outlining are as uncomfortable for me as a cold dip in the ocean, as water up my nose, as sand in my shoes.  I'll never be a plotter, any more than I'll ever be a wave runner. Remember:

Do you prefer to frolic in the surf, or wander through the woods? Are you a wave runner, or a tree hugger? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

1 comment:

  1. ahh...tough choice....that's why I love Maine...woods and water.