I have made significant progress on my nonfiction project in the last month. It’s a bit of a mess, but at least it’s a mess on paper and I can clean it up and make something interesting out of in the end. What I’ve been thinking about recently is the plotter vs. pantser argument. And I feel a little weird that I fall on both ends of the spectrum depending on what I’m working on.
For example, when I work on a full project, I have to plot. But when I’m working on just something short for on here, it just comes out without thinking about it too much. And the most miraculous part of that is that both ways I end up with a nice product in the end. I don’t feel like one way is any better than another, but I can’t seem to change the way I create my work. It all comes down to the mindset I’m in with the level of project, and both ways have their merits.
When I’m working on something short and sweet for a blog post or just to get the creative juices flowing, I get an idea, and I just write it. The only thing I might make a note of is the character names because I forget names the easiest. Other than that, it all depends on if I can get the entire thing done in one sitting. If I have to step away from something, I note what I had in mind for the ending just so future me doesn’t forget the idea I had. Having kids in the house makes my memory a little less effective.
However, if I’m writing a full project, I need to plan. I note any plot point I feel like I might forget; I develop my characters until I feel like I know them as well as my friends, and I create the timeline for the story. And I need all of this information before I write the first page. I don’t plot every single detail through the entire story, but I know enough for each section to keep myself moving along at a nice pace. And I also consider that something could change along the way and if I over plot, I don’t leave room for my characters to show their true intentions.
I don’t favor one method over the other, I just know what works for me in any given situation. I think it comes down to the fact that I write my blog posts in one sitting, and when I think of the idea, I don’t need any more motivation to write the thing. When I’m working on a larger project that I have to give more time to over many days, I need the outline and snippets to keep me in the rhythm on days that I might not feel like writing. I don’t have an excuse to not write when I already know what is going to happen next. I can’t call writers’ block.
But the most important thing to remember in the debate between plotter vs. pantser is to do what works for you. Even if it’s a middle ground situation like it is for me. Embrace your own writing method and get the words down in the way that is best for your writing.