Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants by Susan Claridge

Susan Claridge writes as S.R.Claridge. The mom, wife, daughter, sister, niece, in-law and friend says she's "always the same simply complicated woman beneath. I love autumn, moonlight and Grey Goose Vodka martinis with bleu cheese olives. I believe Friday nights were made for Mexican food and margaritas and Sunday mornings warrant an extra-spicy Bloody Mary. I love Jesus and know that any good in me comes from God. I believe in the power of prayer, in the freedom of forgiveness and that people can change. I have a terrible temper and a tender heart, and somehow they balance. At times I may appear teetering on the edge, but I'd rather walk dangerously where there's a view than let life pass me by. Relationships intrigue me and so does the loyalty of Mafia families, which is why I chose these topics for my novels."'

It's good to have you visit here today, Susan. Please tell us how you write your novels.  
I know many writers who are meticulous about adhering to a specific writing method. Much like a baseball player has a superstitious routine before or during a game, (i.e. having to wear a certain pair of socks, adjust their batting gloves after each pitch, chew a particular type of gum, etc.); some writers are the same. Before ever typing a word, they have spent countless hours plotting and outlining. They know exactly who the characters are, where each scene takes place, what will happen and how it will all go down in the end. In many ways, I envy these writers for their plotting expertise and organizational capacity; but I am not one of them.

I sit down at my computer with nothing more than an idea, a fleeting notion. Even though I am the one writing it, I am often times completely surprised where the story leads. I create characters on the fly, build settings around them, and add the details of the plot through dialogue. I tried once to outline first, but in the end the story read nothing like the outline I had created. This drives my husband crazy.
He asks me, “What’s going to happen?”

“I don’t know,” I shrug. “I haven’t written it yet.”

He shakes his head, completely stumped. “How can you write something when you don’t know what you’re going to write?”

It must seem odd to some people, but to writers who are considered “pantsers,” it is a completely natural process. (A pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants.) Trying to force the course of a story through outlining disrupts my natural flow of creativity. It feels like a kink in the hose, wherein the water drips instead of flows.

Ironically, I am a very organized person in every other area of my life. My calendar, for example, is color coded. Pink, for my daughter’s activities. Blue, for my son’s activities. Purple, for my personal activities, like lunches, book club meetings, Bible study, etc. Green, for anything school related. Orange, for doctor and dentist appointments. Yellow, for my husband’s travel schedule. My pantry is organized and so is my linen closet. But, when it comes to my writing all of this meticulous planning goes out the window. I literally spread my creative wings and let the story soar wherever it wants.
For me, part of the fun of writing is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I sit down at the computer with a sense of excitement, not knowing what to anticipate, but simply committed to enjoy the ride.  

Thanks, Susan. You can learn more about S. G. Claridge at her


Joyce Lavene said...

Interesting way to write, Susan!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I love the color coded calendar. I'd probably forget which color meant what. Good post!

M.M. Gornell said...

Loved your sense of freedom in writing, and your enjoying the ride! It's a great adventure, I think...


Susan Renee' Claridge said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Jean. It was fun! :)


Jean Henry Mead said...

My pleasure, Susan. I enjoyed your post.