As an author, one of the most common interview questions I’m asked is, “When you write, are you the type that has a detailed outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?”
I’m definitely in that latter camp. There could be many reasons for this. First, I’m lazy. I’ve always been irritated by outlines…all the way back to my third grade research project. I can remember asking, “Why can’t I just use my notes and write it? Why do I have to write it first in outline form and then again, the same thing in essay form?” It was too much work. I was also never fond of second drafts and third drafts or anything that required me to do something more than once. So, laziness is definitely a factor.
But it’s also because I’m a fiction writer. When I write the non-fiction book I’ve got percolating, I will very likely sketch a loose outline. Because even though I rebel against things like that, there is a part of me (the control freak part) that craves order and plans and details. But with fiction, things take shape as you write. Plots twist and turn in ways you, as the writer, may not even expect.
But sometimes, it’s like there’s a tug-o-war inside my head. Fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants girl says, “Let’s just wing it all!” (insert maniacal laugh.) But then the control freak side says, “No, (pounding fist on table) we need to know exactly how this is all gonna play out!”
Lately, as I’m pretty far into the writing of my second novel, I’ve been stressing on the days I’m not writing because I’m not sure what will come next when I sit down to write. I get antsy. “I need to know what’s coming next. I need to have it planned out.” But then I tell myself, “No you don’t. That’s not how you work and every time you show up, sit down and write the story writes itself. Just relax and trust the process.” This has truly been going on in my mind for weeks.
I was telling a friend about it the other day and I realized, this is true in my writing but it’s also true in my life. I love adventure. I love doing new things. I like being a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. But there’s another side of me that wants control. I want to know, “God, what is the plan here? What are you doing? What happens next?! Why won’t you give me an outline for this thing called life?” And I let myself get stressed because I don’t know what life is going to look like six months down the road.
That’s when I hear his gentle reminder. “Rebekah, your job is just to show up and trust the process. I’ll write the story.”
Right. I keep forgetting that. He’s the author of it all. I can relax, lean into Him and trust Him to take care of the plot twists and turns. The new characters that pop up. The villains and the heroes. He’s big enough to handle it. So, I’m just gonna find something to hold onto as I fly by the seat of my pants. (What does that actually mean? That’s a really weird saying. But you get me. You know what I’m saying here…)
Hows about you, friend? Are you a control freak or are you comfortable with that whole flying pants thing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so leave a comment below!
Photo Credit: Carnie Lewis on Creative Commons