Monday, April 30, 2012

Egypt: Plotters or Pantsers?

                                      Ageeba Beach, Marsa Matrouh, Egypt

The rock and the sea.

There are two kinds of writers when it comes to getting a first draft down: those who outline every detail, the plotters, and those fly by the seat of their pants, the pantsers. (I don't really know if that's the origin of the word.) I’m a plotter. In fact I'm such a planner-aheader that if my novel takes a left turn somewhere in the middle (usually due to a new idea), my writing comes to a dead halt while I re-outline the whole thing. Yup, I’m a control freak.

Since living in Egypt, I’ve noticed the Egyptians live their lives as ‘pantsers.' They rarely worry about tomorrow, satisfied that if a problem presents itself, they’ll take care of it when it happens. They believe the only true ‘plotter’ is Allah, and they should let him decide on the course of their lives. They’re also very aware that no one is perfect, so they don’t worry about making mistakes or feel guilty when they do.

This way of thinking leads to a non-stressful existence, and this is the reason most of the foreigners I know appreciate living here -- that and the gorgeous sun, sand, and sea I've pic-ed above.

Once, I tried to write a novel without outlining and ended up with a confused, unworkable mess. (Won’t do that again!) But I really enjoy the easy pace of life here, where no one worries too much or stresses-out about tomorrow. In a world where you don’t really know what the future may hold, it doesn’t pay to over-plan. Life isn’t a novel, and a relaxing environment is priceless.
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