Finding my Writing Method: Plotter? Panster? Inbetweener?

How frustrating is it to realize I have no writing method? That while I’ve published 5 novels and 3 short stories I have no idea whether I should plot a story or start writing without much of a plan and hope I reach the end? That I while it really shouldn’t seem to be a problem, not knowing what my method for writing is, really is a problem. (See diagram below for clarification on how I view myself as a plotter, panster, and… well maybe some of you’ll understand the last one.)

I know it sounds silly, or maybe it’s not. Just because my kids, hubby, and my mother have all given me that look, doesn’t mean that I’m crazy. You know the look right? The one non-writers give to writers when they aren’t making much sense and where the answer is obvious to them if you’d just listen or stop obsessing about it. I mean, writing is easy, right?

muffled, snorting laughter

Okay. So writing a publishable book isn’t easy, because if it was, everyone would be doing it. Besides, every writer is different and no one process works for them all. Also, isn’t obsessive behavior a writer trait? I’m pretty sure it’s right there with it’s okay to have imagery friends that you talk to and building them non-existent places to live in.

Anyhoo,  you’d think I’d have some idea of what works and what doesn’t. But no! I have to be difficult and have no idea. If I want to keep at my one book a year progress this would be fine. But I don’t. I’d like to up my word count, be more productive, and publish at least four books a year. I’d like to be ahead in my production schedule and have a nice book release buffer. I’d like to find a reliable editor.

So I might not get everything I want in life, but I damn well willing to try. This means I need to take what I can control and do something about it. Part of that is figuring out if I’m a plotter, panster, or an inbetweener. Or if I can switch between them, which books would call for me plotting it or just writing it.

Note: I’m a lurker and I don’t know how many times I’ve come across the debate of plotter vs. panster and which is better. IMO it’s a dumb argument. Neither one is better then the other, because every writer is different. And before you decided which one you are, understand both styles, learn more about yourself, and realize that you might switch sides depending on the book you are writing. Enough said.

Believing what I do above, I’m sure you’re wondering why I need to define my writing process. Because I know me. I need just enough structure to have a direction, but not be trapped in procedure. Also I really hate having to go back through a story to fix all the problems and clean up messes. I want to write the book, revise the book, edit the books, polish the book, and publish the book. I don’t want to have to rehash and reread the story until I hate the book and want to burn it in my woodstove while cooking applesauce. Yummy, applesauce… (yes, I’m making homemade applesauce today.)

While I’ve written a third of my stories in some sort of “by the seat of my pants” method, I’m starting to think that this isn’t a method for me. And it’s one that I can’t use with Death’s Lover because I seem to be stalling out every 3,000 words or so. It’s frustrating and stressful to see my deadlines looming and have only 4 chapters done whereas I should be half-way through the book already.

However, plotting the book to death isn’t part of my process either. Another third was dedicated to this and they were a misery to get done. Which leaves me with something in between plotting and just writing. I need just enough planning to move forward, but not so much that I’m sick of the book before I go anywhere.

So after some spastic researching of other author’s methods, I’m going to try something a hybrid method of a few things and see how it works. As an added bonus, I’m going to share some of the methods with you and let you know why it worked or why it didn’t.

Life’s Lesson: Every writer is different as is their process. There is no “one” right way. So find your way.

One thought on “Finding my Writing Method: Plotter? Panster? Inbetweener?

  1. I call myself a pantser, but the truth is, I do plot to a certain extent, just not to the point of writing anything down. I do like to have a general idea of where the book is going, etc, even if it doesn’t all come right the beginning. The trick is to plan enough to have an idea of what the next scene will centre around, but not so much that there are no surprises and it becomes boring to write. Or no room to take an unexpected detour, because those are the most fun.


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