When I sit down and write a piece of fiction, I’m a bit of a pantser. That means I just write and see what comes out. For those who don’t know, writing blogs and books like to place writers in two categories – pantsers and plotters (Ugh, I hate being pigeonholed.): Plotters plot out their story ahead of time; pantser just write and see what comes out.
Pantsing isn’t stream of consciousness – or it shouldn’t be – you should have an idea what you’re going to write about and maybe a little idea of where it’s going. But the idea is to get the story out of you head and on paper. Write, fool, write! Worry about the grammar, structure, spelling, and all the rest of that stuff, later.
I’m actually doing that, right now. But it’s not full bore pantsing (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I’m going with it.), because I had some idea of what I wanted to write about, today, and I’m rewriting as a go. I knew I wanted to talk about my progress and the fact I was doing rewrites, but I didn’t know I’d talk about pantsing and plotting. But this is what I’m coming up with as I write this post.
You can’t be a pantser when you’re rewriting, because the rewrite phase is the clean up phase. Pantsing (It’s a funny word, I know.), you’re dumping characters and plot everywhere. When you’re in this phase of your writing – presuming you’re a pantser – it should be easy to hit that 500 word mark. But when you’re rewriting, you’re going to be adding and subtracting; you might spend hours on your writing, but your word count might actually go down.
When you’re rewriting, trying to hit a word count every day probably isn’t a reasonable goal. So what should your goal be during rewrites?
Time. I’m going with time. Some people go with chapters – distance – but I think you should set a time mark for yourself. In my case, I’m still sort of trying to hit that 500 word mark. My goal during rewrites is to put in at least an hour on rewrites.
Why an hour? Because it takes me about forty five minutes to get 500 words when I’m pantsing (It’s really hard to say that word, even in your brain and not laugh.). So I’m rounding up a little and shooting for an hour.
But to be completely honest here, it’s a little bit of both time and distance. My first goal is time – I try to put in an hour on my rewrites. But I don’t want to break the rewrite in the middle of a scene, so I try to finish the scene I’m on while I’m rewriting.
So my goals have been revised since I’m in the revision stage. I write every day. I write at least 500 words a day or write for at least an hour a day while I’m in rewrites.
If you want to read a bit more about plotting and pantsing, the writepractice has a nice write up on the pros and cons of each.