Plotter Vs. Pantser

Hello, hello!  It’s been awhile since I’ve really written something writing related, so I thought I should probably get back to that.  After a long day of errands and asking people what I should blog about, a friend brought up the question of whether I’m a plotter or a pantser.  Basically, do I outline my stories or do I let them grow organically.  I’m sure I’ve at least glanced over this at some point in the past two years (I’ve kept a blog going for two years???  Who’d’ve thunk it?), but I decided to take a minute to dig deeper into this seeming dichotomy.

issue7
From So You WriteI still don’t know all the abbreviations, so don’t feel bad.

First, let’s take a look at plotters.  These are the people who get a story idea, then spend hours or days or weeks or longer plotting out all of the details and creating outlines and character bios and the like (and even charts or graphs for the hardcore plotters).  Some of them plan every little thing ahead of time.  Others write out the broad strokes (major plot points and characters and all of that) but leave connecting the dots until the actual writing process.  This works really well for some people, but it’s not the only way to write.

leqoiq575v_1437536694125
Just one example of plotting, courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

On the other hand, you have pantsers.  These are the people who get a story idea and just go with it.  Characters and adventures come and go organically as the story unfolds on the page.  Many of them have no notes beyond the story itself.  Some take notes as they go, so they don’t have to keep scrolling through their story to remember what someone was wearing or whatever.  Others plot things out in their head as they go, but allow the story to ultimately dictate what happens.  They aren’t afraid of getting sidetracked by a character who refuses to do what was planned.  In other words, they fly by the seat of their pants.

As different as these two things are, I think they’re more two ends of a spectrum than separate identities.  I certainly know people who are strict plotters and others who refuse to even attempt the restrictions of planning things out, but I prefer taking the middle ground.  I fully admit that I have more pantser tendencies than not.  I’ve always had trouble creating (and adhering to) outlines.  All of my stories start organically and I prefer to let them unfold on their own, but I do get stuck sometimes when I do it that way.  That’s when I switch to plotter mode.  I write a rant (I literally whine and complain and generally grump during this whole process) to myself figuring out where I want the story to go, then once I get back on track, I switch back to pantser mode.  There’s no shame in swinging both ways.

spockkirk_ed6bcd_4777877
How most pantsers feel when dealing with unruly characters.

There’s no one right way to be a writer.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar McLiarson, so don’t listen to them.  Don’t be afraid to try plotting if you’re a pantser.  It can really help things flow better when you’re stuck.  Also, try flying by the seat of your pants occasionally if you’re a plotter.  It can be freeing and new, exciting things could happen.

What are your thoughts on plotters vs. pantsers?  Which one are you?  Or do you dabble in both?  As always, leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

Until next week!

Accountability: Like Due Dates But Different

Howdy, howdy!  I was really having a hard time deciding what to write about when a friend sent me a text thanking me for being the voice in her head asking if she was at least thinking about writing.  It gave her the nudge she needed to stop at a place after work and take a little while to have a cup of tea and write some words.  She hadn’t written in a while, but she wanted to, so I told her I’d pester her every day or so until she started writing.  The second day of pestering and she’s already making time for it.  That’s what happens when you’re held accountable for things like this, you make time for them.

castiel
I know, Cas.  I know.  I’ll go do that.

 I don’t know about you, but I always work better with deadlines in place.  At school, I could knock a ten page paper out in one night if I had to, as long as the research was done ahead of time.  Deadlines meant grades.  In the real world, missing deadlines affects the pay from the day job.  In other words, deadlines carry the threat of consequences.  But what’s going to happen if you don’t finish a novel?  Unless you have a contract with a due date, nothing will happen.  So, how do writers overcome this lack of a threat and finish things?  We hold each other accountable.

In the beginning, I didn’t really understand how holding each other accountable would work.  After all, if I don’t push myself to finish something, why would someone judging me for it be motivational?  Turns out that guilt is a powerful tool.  If I set reasonable goals with people and don’t reach them, I feel guilty.  I don’t care if the end of the world pops up, if people know I planned on doing things and failed, it sucks.  It also helps that I’m mildly competitive, so failure and losing are not an option.  I won’t be the only one to not meet my goals.

httvk
Mixed signals achieved.

 According to people I’ve done this whole accountability thing with, it also works by legitimizing their craft, especially when they have jobs.  They have trouble taking time out of their schedules to write because they feel like it shouldn’t be a priority even when they secretly (or not so secretly) want it to be.  Having someone who will pester them and encourage them gives them an “excuse” to make time for writing.

calvinwriting
You can’t keep waiting when there’s no last minute.

 So, even when deadlines aren’t an option, we can still motivate each other by holding each other accountable.  We might not receive any real negative consequences if we don’t meet our goals, but we’ll have to live with the shame of disappointing our friends.  Who has time for that?

Do you have any friends who pester you about your creative outlet?  Does accountability work for you?  How?  If not, what do you do to stay productive and motivated?  Leave a comment here or on my social media pages to share your thoughts!

Until next week!