I coached Leslie Caron. Yes, that Leslie Caron. Gigi.
During a food writers retreat in Burgundy in October 2006, we ate at Auberge-La Lucarne aux Chouettes (‘Owl’s Nest’), which Ms. Caron owns in Villeneuve/Yonne. With a dancer’s carriage and movie star aura, she joined our table to chat with the food writers about how she converted an abandoned warehouse into her restaurant, about her chefs’ quirks, and a little gossip about Fred Astaire, her co-star in “Daddy Long Legs.” And, of course, about the food. She spoke expertly on every topic and even told how she designed her own website.
Then she mentioned how she’s struggling to write her memoirs. After 61 pages, her agent wanted an outline to show to publishers, but Ms. Caron couldn’t write one. Voila, writing coach to the rescue.
I explained the difference between “planners” and “plungers.” Planners decide what to do, and then do it. Plungers simply do it, and figure it out as they go along. Planner writers create an outline and follow it, but plungers “write by discovery.” They type to figure out what they want to say. I told her that one-third of our group were plungers, and she replied, “So, I’m not alone.” Ms. Caron had recognized herself as a plunger, who needs to write the piece in order to outline it. I suggested that she explain plunging to her agent and tell the agent to wait until most of the memoir had been written. At that point, a “back outline” is a cinch.
Just then, her dog Prunelle, sporting a Veronica Lake hairdo, joined us, and the impromptu coaching session ended. Another plunger freed from the straitjacket of the outline.
[Photo: Spencer Johnson; many thanks.]