My Creative Process
Updated: Oct 15
Do not let anyone tell you how to write a novel. I am not saying don’t listen to advice from others. I am saying, listen to your creative self foremost. Here is why. For a long time, I got nowhere trying to follow well meaning advice about following an outline. Every time I tried, I could not do it and became discouraged. Finally, I learned that I have my own style, as does everyone else. I am what they call a pantser- meaning one who writes by the seat of their pants. What a relief to know! Being free-spirited, it suits me well. That being said, such liberty is both rewarding and daunting.
Being led by one’s imagination is fun and entertaining. By engaging the creative part of my brain, I get to explore the unknown as opposed to the known. I discover possibilities rather than probabilities. As an extrovert, I enjoy meeting new people. While a few of my characters are based in part on people I have known (myself included), most of them arise out of the collective unconsciousness. They become like real human beings, who often surprise me. While I am writing, I can see them. I enjoy the company of the nice ones and look forward to discovering how they will act. As in day to day life, these people are the easiest to be around and get to cooperate.
Contrary to the nice characters, I often struggle with an antagonist. I am not sure why; maybe it is because I don’t really understand how they think or why they act bad. For example, in the sequel I am writing to Miss Lila’s Place, the antagonist named Jarrell goes off some days and refuses to let me continue the story. I admit he is acting in character for his role as a continuous, selfish man. When I remind him he would not exist if it were not for me, he just laughs and walks away. I suppose I should be glad he comes back when he is ready. I realize that I could manipulate him and make him do a certain way, but that is no fun. Like readers, I prefer to be surprised by what comes next. In fairness, I want to emphasize that I am not saying outlining is bad. It has proven highly successful for numerous writers; in fact, I am sure most novel writers use this method. Neither being a pantser nor an outliner is superior or makes you a better writer.
What I am saying is do what is comfortable for you. Do not try to force yourself into one way or the other. If you do not already know which style you prefer, I recommend reading two good books on each method. The first for outlining is Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. The one for pansters is Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith.
No matter what you preference, enjoy writing.