I’m at the point in my story where I’m no longer glued to my outline.  I’ve got about 15,000 words left to go, and I’m finally FREE.  I know some of you are probably thinking that I’m almost done, so really, am I free from my outline?

The answer is clear to me. Yes. I am.

My story has gone in different directions than I had anticipated, but I like it better.  At first, deviating from my plan scared the crap out of me. Ack! I thought, I’m not following my outline, and I am NOT one of those people who are labeled a “pantser” in all of the articles I read about writing.  A pantser is defined as someone who writes by the seat of their pants, no outline, no plan, just a pen (or keyboard) and the muses.

That just would never happen in my life.  I need a plan.  Just about always.  I aspire to be a spontaneous free spirit, but ya, it’s not happening. I have to-do lists for my to-do lists.

I actually have to stop myself from asking my two teenage children the “what’s your plan for the day” question.  Let me preface this by saying that I am not asking them to do chores or anything else. I just want to know their plans so I can plan my day as their plans almost always require something of me, and they generally give me five minutes warning before they need me to drive them to town which, living out in the middle of nowhere, is a 50 minute round trip event.

A typical Saturday morning conversation at our house goes something like this:

“So, what’s your plan for the day?” I ask, perfectly innocently, after they have finally drug themselves from their beds at the alarmingly early hour of ten thirty or eleven am.

“OH. MY. GOD.  Seriously?” They respond and glare at me with sleep encrusted eyes. “Mom . . . is it necessary to always have a plan? Do I have to know right now? I JUST got out of bed! Can you at least let me pee first?” They look at me like I’ve lost my mind, and they lack any appreciation of the fact that I’ve already marked two items off my to-do list and outlined an entire scene.

Yes, I realize it’s a problem, and I’m working on it, so the fact that I am no longer glued to my outline is progress, exciting progress in my mind, even if it’s only for the last ten percent of the entire story. Maybe I’ll morph into a middle-aged free spirit after all.

If you’re an outliner, does writing without one strike fear into your heart like it does me? Or if you’re a pantser, does using an outline completely diminish your creativity?

Just curious.