I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing process lately. If asked I normally would say that I’m a dedicated pantser, but that’s not accurate. I’ve actually been fighting against my natural rhythms, which is how I end up with a trillion unfinished projects. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but it feels like it!

I’m a natural plotter. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll be able to tell you how much I plot and plan. Hint: it’s a whole lot! But when it comes to my writing, fiction in particular, I tend to just jump in without any sort of real idea how I’m going to get from word one to word fifty-eighty thousand. This ends usually in massive amounts of frustration. At first I thought that I was doing myself a disservice by shooting for such a high word count in the first place, locking myself into a form without thought to the actual story I’m telling. There is some truth there, especially with a rough draft.

The thoughts ended up going deeper than that; however, it’s not just the form holding me back. Thinking back towards how I handled papers in school, I realized a very key thing for me. While I can pants a rough draft, they tend to be very short. I joked that my science major was getting in the way of my English major…in high school. I would write the paper, and usually end up falling way short of the needed word count or pages. Concise writing isn’t highly regarded in high school apparently. I would have a fully developed paper on my hands that hit everything the teacher wanted, and then I would have to fluff it up to the desired page or word count, usually with random information that I sought out from other sources that even slightly linked to the current topic. While concise writing is great for articles and technical writing, it’s not so great for fiction work, especially if you want to write a novel.

So I’m not going to fight against that anymore. My rough drafts will be just that, rough. They may only be five hundred to ten thousand words or more, but it’s enough to get all the ideas out of my head and into some sort of structure. There is some plotting going on before my rough drafts are even started now, but my first draft is going to be where all the real plotting happens. That’s when the real fun part will start, especially with the much clearer idea I have from actually writing a rough draft. All in all I think this will make me a much more productive writer, as well as bring back a lot of the fun!

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