Planning everything but the book.

I was reading an article about writers who plan their book in meticulous detail as opposed to writers who don’t plan at all, and how they both still get surprised. I was interested as a writer who doesn’t plan at all. I research, and I think about single scenes, but I don’t plan for the first draft.

But that is odd, because I am a planning person. I’m currently going through a difficult medical situation, and my way of coping is to plan for every possible eventuality. If X happens, I will do Y, but if A happens I will do C and then Y – that sort of thing.

I plan my day in the morning. I plan holidays. I even plan lazy afternoons. Not in precise detail, not ‘at 9.00 I will leave, at 9.05 I will step on the bus’ sort of thing. But I do plan ‘I will do this, and then do that, and then that’. There is room for spontaneity and change, but I do have a plan. Just doing nothing and drifting along irks me. I must know what’s to happen next. It’s automatic. I do it without thinking.

So why don’t I plan writing? I’ve tried. It doesn’t work for me. I lose my flow of inspiration. I have to take it as it comes, and just let the writing lead me. Is that why I enjoy it so much, because it’s the one free and spontaneous thing in my life? And now I start to wonder about other writers. Are the planners spontaneous when not writing?

It’s a puzzle, but the way I write seems to be the opposite to the way I live my life.

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