The Best Laid Plans

There are two types of writers: Planners and SOTP (Seat Of The Pants-ers). A planner does exactly that—plans. An SOTP may generally have an idea of where she wants the story to go, maybe knows her main character well or the setting, but allows creative license to “write” the story for her. I’m sure there are varying degrees of the SOTP from those who just write with no plan in mind to those who have a written sketch of what the story should look like.

I’m a planner. The first two books I wrote (years ago), I did it by the seat of the pants—and then had to rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. I’ll admit it was kind of fun not knowing where the story was going or what my characters were going to do or say. But it wasn’t worth the anxiety of not knowing how the story would end—or how to tie up all the lose ends I left dangling throughout the story. And even though I plan out my novels now, there is always room for my characters to…well…act out of character. Then I have to re-plan, but it’s worth it.

One of the core issues when I tried to write by the seat of my pants is that I’m actually a planner in every aspect of my life. It’s the way I’m wired, good or bad. But there is a trap I often fall into because of this—I think I’m in control. Anybody out there who can relate? I can’t imagine waking in the morning without a plan in mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “work” day or a day of leisure (okay, those don’t exist much in my little world—too busy planning my time). This can easily make me rigid, though, which makes it difficult when things don’t go as planned.

This flaw became apparent when I set my first official “deadline” after being signed on by an amazing literary agent—my dream come true. I looked at what I could do on a stellar writing day and assumed, because I planned it out, every day thereafter would be stellar. How arrogant of me! I didn’t pray about it, I didn’t concede that my relationship with God just might play into it, or that He’s actually the One in control.

Boy did He show me! The next several days, I spent hours in front of my computer and struggled to write 700 words. Panic set in. How could I possibly finish this book by the deadline if I couldn’t stick with the agenda? Then something amazing happened. I remembered who is actually in control. It took a couple days of praying before the anxiety abated and another couple days of going with the flow (so hard for me) before the writing took off again.

The difference is that now I know I have to go to God first—let Him decide what my day will look like, what I’ll accomplish. And if don’t make the deadline? Well, then maybe He had another plan in mind—working on my character flaws so I’ll be better able to glorify Him in the end. And I will truly be able to say when the book is done, I was just the tool—God was the creator!

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