Saturday, December 4, 2010

Plotting v Pantsing - Polishing our Strengths

Will the genie appear if we polish our strengths?
I'm a pantser who longs to be a plotter but a recent blog post 'Comparison Doesn't Work' from agent Rachelle Gardner has got me thinking (despite the post below earnestly written a week or so ago). There are so many ways we want to change ourselves. We want to be thinner, shorter, taller, blonder, smarter. Instead of playing an eternal tug-o'-war with ourselves, maybe the genie is more likely to appear if we polish and polish our inherent strengths.

Isabella Jade is a classic example. Jade is a less-than 5'4" model who has created a successful platform for herself by capitalising on her low stature in an industry where height is considered de rigeur. Jade's 'Building an Author Platform from Scratch' on the Publishing Perspectives blog makes compelling reading.

Perhaps being a pantser isn't such a terrible way to write after all. Instead of trying to suppress this tendency maybe I should build on the spur-of-the-moment creativity that's part of my make-up and learn how to transform it into something truly powerful. What do you think?

QUOTE FOR THE DAY: "We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end." Benjamin Disraeli.


  1. I recently heard the famous John LeCarree say he's a pantser and he believes 'real writing' can only be done by the characters themselves leading - he's adamantly against plotting and any outlining. Good for me to hear since all those outlines and mechanical structures have never worked for me. Lynn

  2. Hi Judi - thanks so much for commenting and becoming my 50th follower! A PDF copy of 'Kincaid's Call' will be on its way to you as soon as I finish writing this message.

    It's great for me also to hear that rigorous plotting won't work for everyone. Happy writing.

  3. I'm usually a plotter - at least to some degree. It makes me nervous when I don't have any plan of action. But I wrote my last story by the seat of my pants with no clue where it was going. I emailed it to my editor 2 days ago and got back a "Great Job - Sold!" today. Lesson learned, you can be both!

  4. It's a case of the grass is always greener. I marvel at pantsers, and wonder how in the heck you do it! I'm a loose plotter. I have a definite outline, but lots of empty space in between plot points. That's where I play. I agree, that you should built on your strengths. It's obviously working for you!

  5. Hi Jannine - wow, congratulations! You must have let your muse fly.

    Thanks for stopping by, Julie. Interesting to learn about your writing process and realise that plotting can be 'points', not necessarily a detailed outline.

  6. Well said, Leigh! You are so right about so much energy constantly wasted when we try to "wedge" ourselves into the mold considered the norm. There are so many guidelines to be followed anyway - I think we often squelch our muse by trying to make them something they're not. I turn 50 in February and I've decided my new mantra will be this: "I've spent the first 50 years of my life trying to live up to everyone else's expectations - I'm going to spend the next 50 years, living up to mine.


  7. Hi Maeve - you are so right. Your next half-century is going to be fantastic!