creative writing · Editing Tips · Writing · Writing Tips

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

This past year, I’ve realized that I’m a pantser when it comes to writing. It’s ironic, really, because I’m such a plotter in my regular, day-to-day life. I have a planner, which I schedule every Sunday with tasks for the upcoming week (including house chores and lunch ideas). Whenever I travel, I love to plan my trips and itineraries close to perfection. And I adore lists.

But ever since I started taking writing more seriously, I’ve noticed I’m definitely not a plotter. Before last year’s #NaNoWriMo, I created an outline of what I wanted my manuscript’s main plot to look like and a spreadsheet with my characters’ arcs and personalities. In my head, I thought plotting everything before I started writing would be the smart thing to do. After all, planning (and over-planning) is wired within my core.

However, once I began writing, all the things I’d plotted went down the drain. As my writing progressed, I realized I could not keep my mind, and my creativity, within the confinements of my “outline.” And to be completely honest, it became so frustrating.

I do understand how outlining and plotting before writing might be beneficial to some writers. But in my experience, outlining every single scene—and sticking to it—was simply too much. I say this because I have watched quite a number of #Authortube videos and read craft books (and articles) on how the best thing to do is to follow an outline before actually getting to write anything. And although I strongly believe having a strong idea and a foundation from which to build from is better than writing pure nonsense, ultimately, every writer is different and should follow their own writing process. And you’ll only find what your writing process is by—you got it— writing. And re-writing. So, if outlining works for you, then that is amazing!

I will say though, right now, I am working on a reverse outline since my manuscript is almost complete (I’m working on edits). As I’ve mentioned before, my current manuscript is written in a non-linear narrative. Therefore, I have to make sure that every chapter aligns correctly with the different timelines of the story. And working on this reverse outline has helped my WIP’s flow tremendously. 

What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or a plantser? Share below!

11 thoughts on “Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

  1. I am in complete agreement that each writer is different and what works for one may not work for the next. With that said, I’m a plotter through and through. However, I use the outline merely as a guide and allow myself to veer away from it if it makes sense to do so (many times it has). But generally if I leave the outline I do so briefly and come back around to it. If I find I’m getting too far away, I’ll toy with the idea of redoing my outline (or parts of it) to follow the new direction.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I tend to do both, plot and plan – using an outline and basic research notes, characters named with a simple backstory, setting descriptions, etc. – and then just go from there, letting the story that’s in my head, come forth as it will. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to think that I have a plan: take a trip down the river from point A to maybe point B. I’m not sure what happens on the way, maybe I stop on the shore, someone passes me by or even joins me, or my boat hits a rock, or there’s a fork up ahead. This all happens along the way. Like life.
    The plan is there, but……..
    Or, something else. What do I know?


  4. I’m a plotter through and through. Though things definitely change when you’re actually writing, I simply must have a plan going in or I won’t write at all.

    It makes sense because I’m a Taurus and super stubborn lol!


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