In the writing world there are two types of people. There are the Planners and there are the Pantsers. In most areas of my life I consider myself a planner. Schedules are my best friends and I do very little without first consulting them. Routines help keep me sane and the healthiest rhythms of my life are born from my desire to maintain control.
Knowing all this you may think that as a writer I might be just as organized. You may picture me with folders on my computer that keep all my files cataloged. You may envision a giant notebook where I plan out my character’s next move and how that might be felt at various points throughout the story. You think I am a detail-oriented writer (as I often dream about too.) The reality of my writing is I’m opposite of all those things.
Every fiber of my Type-A being hates to admit I’m a Pantser.
The only thing I’m good at planning ahead when it comes to writing is when I will get my sessions. Over time I’ve learned that I’m no good at planning plot. Pre-planned drafts have proven a waste of time. My Googledrive is a conglomeration of random files. Some are manuscripts and some are ideas. I even have a few files that are just one sentence in length (something that felt prolific at the time and I hope to one day use.) There is no giant notebook where I plan out my chapters–I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t work. And details–what are those?
Throughout the past two years, I’ve really focused on finding my voice and style as an author. I’ve found that my best writing comes from organic sessions. I sit down with a cup of coffee and I let the characters lead me. I listen as they talk. I watch as they interact. And I record all of these things as they happen.
I usually start the story with a sentence that seems catchy. I have no idea where that sentence will take me, but I give myself permission to have no clue. My best work has come from this strategy.
If you were to ask me about my current manuscript and how it ends I would tell you, “I have no idea. I’m not even sure what the conflict is at that point.” If that makes you cringe do not fear–I used to cringe too. I have chosen, however, to write in this manner because it is how my best work is produced.
First drafts are always a little silly and require a ton of makeover no matter how well planned they happen to be. That’s why I enjoy the journey of being a Pantser. I let the first draft happen. I don’t stifle it with plans of my own or inject my personal agenda into the scenes. I know I will have to edit and revise regardless if I have a plan or not. So why not enjoy the suspense of exploration?
I accept my style as a Pantser because I know that in the end, stories always come together. It’s exciting to start something new and to be led on adventures as opposed to dictating the process. As a Pantser, I can say that my writing speaks for itself and I am truly the vessel it uses to tell it to the world.
As a mother so much of my life requires a plan. I need to know who needs to be where and when. I have to schedule my own writing time around everyone else’s schedule. That is another reason I enjoy being a Pantser–it’s something I can do on a whim. I allow myself to write whatever comes and I accept that it’s okay.
Any other Pantsers out there?
The Ameri Brit Mom