It seems like in every corner of my house there is another notebook to uncover. Some are new, some are years old and others I haven’t even gotten round to using yet but simply couldn’t resist the lure of a crisp, fresh booklet just waiting to be graced with untold creativity.
Each one I use inevitably ends up being filled to the brim with lists, thoughts, plot ideas, character information, concepts for the likes of poems, short stories, blog posts and who knows what other frankly nonsensical ramblings that seemed perfectly important to me at the time I wrote them. I love them however and the whole idea of feeling organised that they play into – even if in reality I am perhaps a little more scatty at times than I would like to think.
Filtering through a selection of them and rediscovering ideas I had forgotten all about, it got me thinking about the process of planning as a whole. Most writers will preach of the importance in always outlining your stories and detailing your protagonists long before you ever put pen to paper but there are certainly those who are much more comfortable with the idea of allowing the plot to drive their imagination as and when they actually write, with plotting feeling more a hindrance than a help in the long run.
I find myself being a strange hybrid of the two types. I certainly do like to outline major plot points and briefly think through my main characters before I dive fully into a project of any kind but the small details and nuances of personality that flesh out a story and make it feel real I much prefer to allow the chance to develop naturally, so as not to make me feel too heavily restricted when I write. As a lover of writing down my thoughts and ideas, I can completely understand the appeal in having every detail already planned out so you always know exactly where your story is heading but for me, I worry this would make the writing process itself feel too much like joining the dots and the stories not free to grow arms and legs and take on a life and voice of their own.
What kind of writer are you? Do you plan your work rigidly, only enough to guide you in the right direction or do you simply trust your instincts?