Generally speaking, we tend to group writers into two camps: plotters and pansters. Plotters write an outline of their entire book before they sit down to write, hence the nickname. Pansters, as you can imagine, fly by the seat of their pants. They have an idea and they sit down and write—no idea where the writing will go, but they let the words ‘lead’ them. I’m a panster. I like taking a flicker of an idea and developing it as I type. But lately, I’ve become another type of writer: a wanderer.
Shrugging Off Creative Block
I don’t believe in writer’s or creative block. It’s because my habit of writing daily—barring a natural disaster or being bedridden by illness—helps to generate ideas. That doesn’t mean that I come up with great ideas all the time (a lot of them are crap) or that I’m able to execute them skillfully. And those crappy ideas often end up in a file or drawer never to be opened again before eventually being moved to my computer’s recycle bin or passed through the shredder. Nor does it mean that I get down 2,500 words every day. Sometimes it might only be a couple hundred. But I write every day to keep my writing in a flow state.
But it does create a problem for me. Because I’m ‘chasing’ a lot of different ideas, it takes me longer to sometimes finish something. That makes me a wanderer: a writer moving from project to project, focused on the one that, on a certain day, piques my interest the most. A couple of weeks ago, I took out a project that had been dormant for close to a year. But the wanderer in me kicked in, and now I’m sidetracked by a writing project spawned by the novella I recently finished editing.
Yes, I should know better. It took me waaaay longer to publish Bring Him Back to Me. But as the publication date nears, I think about the time during the pandemic, under lockdown orders, when I showed up every day to write the first and second drafts. Focusing on one project not only got it done faster, it was incredibly powerful and motivating to see what I could accomplish.
Finishing something is the antidote to the wanderer mentality because it quiets doubt when it comes to visit. It gives reassurance, silencing the inner critic, that you are on your right path. And if gives you the power to believe in yourself and, more importantly, the courage to take action to make your dreams come true.
Wanderer No More
There are a lot of reasons (ahem, excuses) for my recent approach to creativity—fatigue, doubt, life changes, etc. But writing this reminded me of the approach that has always worked best: focus on one thing at a time. Wandering between projects only slows me down. If I channel my energy and focus into one project, it’ll get done quicker, and the writing should also hold its own (meaning less work during the rewriting process…hopefully).
It’s time to put the wanderer to bed.