When I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my writing, I took a lot of writing workshops. There are several places you can go and find a ton of courses on every imaginable writing subject.
I tried screening them where I could. You know, checking to see if the writer had more than one book out, and later, if the writer was an outliner or a pantser, a person who doesn’t outline.
There was one workshop that had three levels:
- The cheapest: you got the printed material.
- Participate online with other writers taking it.
- Critique from the author offering the course. This was pretty expensive.
The writer only had two books out, so she wasn’t that experienced, though her course was getting raves from other writers. Even opinions from other writers is not always a good recommendation, because sometimes they think “Published” makes the person an automatic expert. A person with only a few books out is still new at craft.
I was curious enough to pay for the first option, and it was “Meh.” Very superficial. It also did what all of these other courses did:
Taught writing process as craft.
They’re not the same thing.
Craft is like learning what a story is (which is not easy to do), or characterization, or pacing.
Process is how you get there, or your approach to building the story. It’s how much you know about the story, or don’t know about the story. It’s the order you build it, and how you build it, like writing thin and filling it in or writing too much and cutting it.
But a lot of writers mistake process for craft.
That’s where pantsing a book or outlining one comes in. How often have you seen a blog post or a craft book say that pantsers don’t have plot because they don’t outline?
One of the things that struck me was a writing coach who was selling a outlining process. He pounded his fist and said quite loudly over and over that pantsers books were always a mess and they never worked. Evidently, it never occurred to him that it might be a problem with the writer not getting what a story is.
This is one the reasons it’s really important to find other pantsers because the outliner writers will always blame the process.