I am a firm believer in having a vision of what you want to produce before you create something. The goal, the destination, I find necessary.
The level of detail in said vision varies, and that may be one way of describing the difference between so-called plotters and pantsers. Pansters must (I assume) go into a draft with a vision for what they want to create--it's just much less detailed than the vision/plan a plotter would start with.
I think there's more to it than the level of detail in pre-writing, however.
I've heard pantsers talk about the first draft as a "journey of discovery." For me, writing a draft is much more a journey with a fixed destination--a point on the horizon that, however complex it may be and however twisty the road may get and however much I may not be aiming for exactly the right place yet, I am headed towards. And that destination is much more than a word count or the satisfaction of typing "The End." It's the combined effect of many specific stops along the way.
|What's that knocking? Why, it's a barrage of Hobbit pictures and comparisons.|
This is in part because the haphazardness that journeys of discovery entail scares the crap out of me. I am not a spontaneous person. (Ask my friends who try to get me to go out without planning it days beforehand.) So while such experimentation is necessary, I find it too overwhelming to do that AND be master of myself enough to put words on the page at the same time.
|If you really NEEDED me to go somewhere on short notice, it would probably look a lot like this.|
And now that Bilbo Baggins has invaded my post... More importantly, perhaps: when I'm actually drafting, I feel the need to know where I'm going. Bilbo, as you may have noticed, has little idea where he's going or what he's signed up for when he runs off on his Unexpected Journey.
|"In control" is not exactly the phrase that comes to mind.|
And--thank you, Bilbo, you're perfect--Bilbo does write his story down. But he does it after he's experienced the wide-eyed discovery of the unexpected.
This isn't a perfect analogy, of course--no matter how detailed my plan is, drafting is still an exciting journey with unforseeable twists and turns. It's just that I find it very important to have a destination fixed firmly in mind before I depart. This is especially true when we're talking about revisions.
|Behold! I sighted the Lonely Mountain on a family car trip!|
~~This blog post brought to you by the frustration I am experiencing because I am STILL outlining. I want to just open that document and WRITE. But if I did that now, I would flounder and flail and get overwhelmed and nothing much would get done.
|Overwhelmed IS the word...|
So, back to the outline I go!