This post is dedicated to the age old question: Plotter or Pantser?
On one of my forums, there was lots of talk about each writer’s process. I confess I am not a plotter. I can’t sit and write a ten page outline with everything that is supposed to happen in the book. I can’t fill out massive amounts of character worksheets that describe everything from physical attributes to what kind of ice cream he/she likes (and does that really matter in a fantasy with medieval elements?). I can’t fill out charts about conflict or the one thing that character really is afraid of. The post-it note system on a foam core board didn’t work for me either. Three Acts? Fuhgettaboutit. Seven Point Structure? Whatevs.
I’ve thought a lot about this and reflected on how I wrote my last full-length novel. I figured out what my process truly is and it’s not plotting. It’s not really “pantsing” either. (If you’re not familiar with that term is means “writing by the seat of your pants” which means those of us who do that don’t plot a damn thing.) I’ve often lamented to my husband about how I wished I could plot more because when I get stuck, sometimes it takes me days to get un-stuck.
His solution? “Well, why don’t you just plot?”
Yeah, that sounds logical, right? But here’s the thing. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work for me. And every time I’ve tried I just get frustrated.
One of the things I want to focus on regarding my writing this year is embracing my process. My process is learning who I am as a writer and what I’m passionate about. My process is about writing something that makes me excited, that gets me out of bed in the morning and makes me want to get to the page. And when I get stuck and don’t know how to get out of it? I do dishes, vacuum, clean toilets and think and think and think about it until I figure out where I went wrong. My process is trusting my instincts as not only a writer focused on my career, but a writer focused on the story. Does that mean plotter or pantser? Yes, actually, both. It means I know what the story is, whose story it is and what I’m trying to convey.
Do I always know where that will lead? No. Do I always know how to get out of it? Sometimes. Do I know how it will end? Hardly ever. Do I end up following that three act structure? Usually even though it’s not a conscious decision as I’m writing. I let the story flow from one point to the next as seamlessly as I can.
That is what makes me the kind of writer I am. And I’m okay with that.