For many years, I’ve heard about “pantser” and “plotter” writers. This school of thought holds that a pantser starts each writing day with no clear idea where the story is going. A plotter does what the word implies, she plots out every aspect of the story she’s writing.
Often writers believe they are either one or the other. While I’m sure there are some writers who fit one label or the other, I’m also sure there are writers who don’t.
If the choice is between going with the flow or plotting, most writers probably fall into what I think of as the hybrid category. They do a little of both. While I lean toward plotter, I think my writing process is too messy to carry that label alone.
Yeah, sort of like my desks. As you can see from the photo, they’re a mess. No matter how often I organize them, within a few days stuff gets piled on every available surface.
A reflection of my writing process I’m afraid.
If I’m such a messy writer, why do I think I lean toward being a plotter? Because I love making story outlines. I start with an overall outline–very organized with turning points even. This outline gives me lots of ideas for chapters which in turn give me ideas for scenes.
This is about the time the pantser part of me comes into the picture. Once I’ve established an overall sense of the story, nothing else is written in any organized fashion. The scenes, dialogue, conflicts–they all randomly pop into my head. If I’m not at my computer, I write them down on any available writing surface. Sometimes I even remember Siri can add them to my phone’s notepad.
Often the story races off in an tangent I hadn’t thought about, but that’s okay. I can always tweak the general outline. After all, I’m not chipping on a stone tablet, all I have to do is hit delete. Although I seldom delete. Usually I create a file folder and stuff unused material in it. There’s always the chance I might be able to use the scene later.
The beauty of being a hybrid plotter-pantser whose writing process involves an outline and a hodgepodge of scenes is never having to face a blank page.
While I was writing this, my husband left a Dove chocolate wrapper on my messy desk. Fortunately, he put it on top of my daily planner so I noticed it.
I leave you with this quote which pretty much sums up my messy writing process as well as my messy desks:
“The magic is in the mess.” (Attributed to Dr. Brené Brown)