I just read this brilliant post from Nova Ren Suma about her process of outlining. And it has stirred some thoughts.

Writers seem to be divided into two categories when it comes to process: Plotting and Pantsing. While I think that the lines are a bit greyer than that (you might be a loose plotting pantser perhaps) to keep it simple I’ll just refer to those two categories.

When I first delved into the writing world my impression of the two categories was this: Pantsers = rock stars and Plotters = nerds. Naturally, I wanted to sit at the cool table. Pantsers throw everything to the wind and write with abandon. They give the rules the forks and do what they want. While plotters outline meticulously and know everything before they set pen to paper or finger to keyboard.

So, I donned my flower crown, swirled my pretty dress (hmm maybe pantsers are hippies?) and skimmed my copy of No Plot? No Problem! And what can I say after two years and one painful manuscript later? *whispers* am I aloud to give back my pants?

I think I might give plotting a go.

Here’s why I truly think I pantsed my first manuscript: fear. Fear that I didn’t have a story, an ending, a climax, fear that everything would fall down, fear that I had so many holes my MS resembled a poorly crocheted sock. Fear. Fear. Fear. Somehow discovering that in an outline felt worse than discovering it on the page. But I’m sure it would’ve saved me some thorough rewriters…or maybe not.

So, was I wrong to pants? No. Like I said I was scared. And that fear of writing will, well, stop you writing. Yes my MS was a huge mess at the end but I still pulled out 55,000 words of something.

The danger of identifying yourself with a category is if something in you changes your chosen identifier can feel like a box you can’t get out of. The writing process is so personal and you need to sometimes try different things to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Also, plotters aren’t nerds. Seriously, is this high school? Gee whizz. We’re all out there trying to tame this giant beast of story and to (loosely) quote Patrick Ness, “If you get to the end of your manuscript, you’ve done it right.”

Now, excuse me while I go outline. *puts on nerd glasses*

Originally posted May 27 2013