“Give me a minute while I reference my notes.”
“Who needs notes when they are whispering in my ears.”
As a writer, each time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard we make a conscious decision to either plan or free hand. That decision forms the path we take to reveal to the world the stories within fighting to be told. The question then becomes, do I plan or free hand.
What shapes this question? Is it the story itself -the plot- that is summoning writer to know each page before it is turned? Or maybe a character who wants the write to understand why she decided to drop out of school and hitch hike across the country with nothing more than a small backpack of clothes, he favorite camera, and twenty dollars to her name. Cases like this might be easy to freehand. Just sit in front of the page and allow the story to speak to and through you.
Just remember, there is nothing wrong with having a plan. As a writer who tends to freehand, times arise that requires me to do research. I love to offer authenticity to my stories. My characters have a history that on occasion requires me to seek out who they are. They may provide tidbits of information completely irrelevant to what I am currently working on, but pertinent to past chapters or ones to come. Use this opportunity to map out where this information belongs. I could be a road map to a place in the story not previously discovered or explored.
A word of caution on planning though. If a plan is what you desire, take heed to not get bogged down in the details and become so attached to the plan, that you force the story to move in the direction it doesn’t naturally flow. Even if the story initially presents itself one way, remain open enough to allow the story to unfold during the writing process.
You might find a surprise or two hiding around the corner.
The same goes for the free hand man. When the story begins to move in so many directions that you cannot keep up, it may be time to sit down and plan. Take a step back from the chaos and try to find some common ground. It could be that these tangents are meant to reveal something new about your character or a new challenge for them to face. Or it could be a way to distract you (as the writer) from a bigger issue that you are subconsciously attempting to ignore.
Both free hand and making plans can lead to writing oneself into a corner. However, they each have their own merits -pitfalls- but when used together at a time when the story calls, they can open doors and break down barriers leading to a new perspective and a much richer story.