Planner, Pantser….,or Plantser?

Am I the only person who has not heard of these writing styles?  I have debated the argument of planner or procrastinator many times, but I have never thought about planning or pantsing for my writing. Truly, I just simply thought writing was just writing. This first graduate class is hitting me like boot camp because I realize I need to learn so much before I feel like I can truly do what I want. That makes the planner, pantser, plantser important because it allows a person to fully understand what type of writer he or she should be (but not necessarily is).  After defining the terms (as any person who thinks they are a planner), I realized the devil may be in those very details.

I have notebooks full of ideas and “plans.”  But, I never really started writing those ideas that were suppose to become books. I am pretty sure that is why I am not a real fictional author now (IDK?). As I was reading various articles, I took a test to see if I was a true planner or pantser (because what would life be without a test to tell us how to proceed?). All jokes aside, it made me realize a very important detail that I had not thought about before this debate which was when I read, “It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s fear of not writing well; something quite different.” (Berkun).

I realized it was fear of failure as opposed to the fear of writing that has kept me back. I fully planned after reading this prompt to build an argument to support planning.  But, at the end of writing this first paragraph, I realized that I might not be doing what was needed for me because it was the very thing I was using as an excuse to not open my notebook and write. If you always feel that you have to plan, when do you decide when it is time to write? With that in mind, I looked a little more at both sides of this argument.

Pros for planning:

1) Build the roadmap to follow which helps me avoid writing issues.

2).Stay focused on the storyline, and I do not let my mind wonder.

3). Imagine the writing process would be easier as I do not have to stop and wonder what comes next.

4) Know the characters, conflicts, and resolution I planned instead of hoping I write good ones as I go.

5).  The editing would be easier as the research was done before the story was written.  This provides for opportunity to avoid mistakes.

Pros for being a pantser:

1) Write without worrying about following a plan of action.

2) Invent as you go which means you have free reign to change the story if you want.  As a planner, this might be an issue, but I can see merit.

3). Rely so much on what others know, and I have more liberty to create fiction to authenticate my own story.

4). Use editing techniques after the first draft is written to go back and fix what I think does not fit.

I plan everything, and it was the very thing I was using as an excuse when it came to writing. Ideas are just ideas until they are used.  So, for me, I believe using the ideologies of a planner actually hurts me in writing.  I lead a structured life, but I rarely take chances that I think will have consequences.  I have to believe there really is no consequence to get my head past this idea. Or, I can be a pantser and just write to experiment where it goes which could also lead to great issues.

Thinking about the conflict, crisis, and resolution might be a good way to at least put an idea together whether a person uses an outline or not.  If you at least know the characters, conflict between them, and how you hope to resolve their situation, it gives a writer an idea of where they are heading.  Planners would probably go into great detail before writing anything at all, and true pantsers would probably not even do anything before writing.  But, a plantser might just do a bit of work before writing, but not too much to destroy the creativity in them. I can see the value in using both of these ideologies together to write.

Pros for being a plantser:
1) Create my main characters, but leave it open while writing to add more if needed.

2). Know you characters’ conflict, crisis, and resolution, but fill in the other scenes.

3). Use editing to plan what needs to be changed or corrected, but use the pantser skills to write creative corrections.

4). Edit! But, do not over-analyze as planners might do.

So, what advice can I offer after learning about the planner, panters, plantser theories?

Live a little! Write from the heart, and do not let the head stand in the way of doing what a you love to do.  Learn while you have the chance, but remind yourself that you need to try other things to see if the outcome is better.  Fear is a four letter word.  I will let my pencil erase that here and now!




Berkun, Scott, “36 Breathtaking Scott Berkun Quotes,” Brandon Gaille, (2016 Sep 27), retrieved on Feb 4, 2017, from http://brandongaille.com/36-breathtaking-scott-berkun-quotes/


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