Saturday, October 19, 2019

Plotter or Pantster…Planner or Not?

I often slot writers into one category or the other - as most of us tend to fall into one camp or the other. We either plot, or we don’t. We plan it, or fly by the seat of our pants. 

In my friendships and family, I am known as The Planner. Sometimes, detrimentally so. I’m not often good with being spontaneous, and I appreciate knowing what to expect and be prepared for. I tend to panic if things don’t follow a certain routine or plan. 

As a writer, and in my writing relationships, I am still often known as The Plotter. I prefer to write out where my novel is going - a roadmap of sorts. I follow along with the mile markers, knowing when I’m hitting the right spots and if I’m taking detours so I can correct myself. 

Which isn’t to say detours aren’t just thing a novel or a road trip need some days. They are often are - the roads less traveled are the ones we’d never know or see if we don’t take a turn down them. 

In my last novel, which I had not planned to be a novel, but rather a side writing project to release some pent up energy and frustration, was entirely pantsed. I told myself it didn’t matter, as it wasn’t a novel, it wasn’t anything. I could just write to write. No plan. I had no roadmap, no idea where it was going. But the next thing I knew, I was leaving Short Story Ville for Novel Land. To this day, I feel it’s the best piece I’ve written, even if it isn’t going anywhere in particular at the moment. 

Detours can pay off. 

I recently moved farther away than I have ever lived from home. My new running route depressed me a little - all city and concrete. On the way up the hill, I’d often give the side eye to a slight mud trail that went up into the woods. A deer trail. One day, I followed it. And found a river trail through the woods. Had I stayed the path, I’d never have found the nature I’d been craving. That little new running route that reminds me of why I like to be alive when the seasons are changing, for better or worse, tying on my running shoes. 

Writing is much the same, and so is life, or so I’ve learned. Keep your map if you need it. But don’t be afraid to shove it aside here and there. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the trail. Enjoy the unknown. You never know where it’ll lead you. 

Happy Reading!

A.M. Bostwick is the author of the award-winning THE GREAT CAT NAP and its sequel, THE CLAWED MONET as well as the young adult BREAK THE SPELL. She is a newspaper journalist and blog writer in the northern Midwest.

1 comment:

  1. I love the story of the deer trail detour! This is a lovely reminder to stray from the beaten path sometimes in writing, and in life.