From Pantser to Plotter

January 9, 2018

From pantser to plotter, pantser, plotting, writing process, writing life, character development, martha alderson, the plot whisperer, turning points

When I sat down for my first writing session of 2018, I came with all the enthusiasm inherent with a new year. I figured I could pick up where I left off 10 days earlier, when I shut down all manuscript work in favor of the Christmas holiday.

An all-too-familiar panic, however, set in rather quickly.

Every time I’ve gone to write a draft of my creative nonfiction novel, I manage to navigate deep into the story, but eventually, I find myself intellectually and emotionally lost. Why? I lose sight of the greater context, the big picture.

It’s frustrating. I know the story, after all, I lived it. So why did I struggle to finish it?

Simple — I was a pantser. And it held me back.

Writers find themselves in two camps; either you are a pantser or a plotter. Pantsers write by the seat-of-their-pants, simply winging it to see where the writing and their creativity takes them. They have no patience for the focused practice of mapping out every plot point and character sketch; in other words, what plotters do.

Today on Creatively GenuineI discuss my metamorphosis from pantser to plotter and how that’s impacted my writing. I also discuss a book called The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson, which you can find right here.

Are you a pantser? A plotter? How has either one helped or held you back? Leave a comment and let’s start a spirited (and respectful) discussion.

Later in today’s podcast, I discuss how I use a railroad track inspection as a metaphor for a crucial relationship at the heart of my creative nonfiction novel.

Dave is a professional writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. His writing podcast, Creatively Genuine, is available on iTunes and Google Play.

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