Most of the discussions on the Internet about “plotters” (writers that outline) and “pantsers” (writers that write by the seat of their pants) include an acknowledgment that authors have varied personalities, experiences, and needs. Robinson’s article discusses the different approaches that J.K. Rowling and Stephen King utilize. In contrast to the one-size-fits-all advice from NY Book Editors, Kristen Kieffer’s website and Writer’s Digest’s article encourage writers to develop their individual methods.
Using both the plotter and the pantser approach might work best for me, and the application of the methods might depend upon the surrounding circumstances.
As I began this novella, I applied both the “plotter” and the “pantser” writing method. Like a plotter, I outlined two scenes and generated a text that covered the points in the outline. During the writing process, I often reflected and edited the text. Then, like a pantser, I wrote two scenes without bullet points and without revising or rewording. The plotting method took more time and resulted in an organized and occasionally uninspired text. The pantsing took less time and resulted in an energized, but often disjointed narrative.
When asked the question, “are you a plotter or a pantser?”, I answer, “Yes.” as I expect to use both techniques and according to the level of confidence that I have in the vision-details. During the experiment, the effectiveness of the method reflected the level of vision-clarity. When the ideas were distinct and detailed, I didn’t need an outline, and the pantsing method did not go off-topic. When my concepts were clouded and confused, a more systemic process provided the text with direction and focus.
During less-hectic weekends and in a relaxed state of mind, a pantsing approach might be most enjoyable and produce a narration that is on-topic and inspired. After a busy workday or in a stressed state of mind, plotting might prove to be more effective and keep the story progressing. When deciding on which method or which combination of methods to use, it may be worth considering, as Basement Jaxx so aptly puts it, where your head’s at.