< (Previous Post) (Next Post) >

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

Throughout most of my adult life I have considered myself a planner. I am naturally a fairly strategic thinker and I like order. I like logical processes and I like structure. Whether I am looking ahead to a wedding or a holiday, I map it all out ahead of time so there are no surprises. I create backup plans “just in case” something goes wrong, and, in fact, I’ve been pretty good at imagining what could go wrong—so good, in fact, that my avid imagination has often created in real life the very thing I feared would happen. We’re calling that manifestation these days. People have a strategy for that, as we have a strategy for everything we do. Even the things that don’t serve us.

That being said, I’ve always felt my penchant for planning was serving me well. And I’ve learned to like borders, boundaries, and parameters. I like facts and details and road maps. In the book writing world, we call people like that “plotters.” They map out their entire book, scene by scene, before they ever write a word. They structure everything and their insistence on plotting their book to within an inch of its life drives the other category of book writers, the “pantsers,” absolutely bat-crap crazy.

In contrast to plotters, the pantsers of the book writing world don’t start with a plan. They start with an idea and let their imagination take it from there. They dive into the silky waters of their multi-dimensional reality and dream up anything they want with absolutely no regard for book writing conventions, and they scamper off down the path of creativity with nary a thought for what makes a good book.

So, with my dedication to planning, logic, order, and parameters in every other area of my life, you can imagine my shock when it turned out that, in the context of writing a novel, I was a pantser. Both methods of writing a book are credible, by the way. If you are a plotter, and you need to map out your book so you can quiet your monkey mind and give yourself some evidence that you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t really know), then knock yourself out.

Just recognize that at some point your tightly structured book will likely be a lot better if you layer into it the whispers of creativity and the shine of imagination. If you are a pantser, and you hate being tied to a plan because it impinges on your mad creative mind, pants away. And, similarly, remember that at some point, somebody is going to have to impose some structure on your splotches of creative genius.

After you’ve poured the story of your soul out onto the page, and you’ve revised it until you’re both sick of your own brilliance and doubting its very existence, you will hand it over to an Editor who will wrangle it into the logical order of a decent book. Your editor is an extremely important part of the process. And almost nobody who sets out to tackle a book writing project has a clue what they do. For now, however, just know that whether you are a plotter or a pantser, your book will need to be well structured so your readers can understand and benefit from the information, or the stories, you are making available to them.

Awakening Author Blogs


Leave a comment

< (Previous Post) (Next Post) >