I’ve realized at the heart of my writing, I’m a planster. If you’ve never heard this term before, you’ll probably think I’ve either lost my mind or perhaps fallen victim to a mildly amusing autocorrect malfunction. Neither of these options are the case (though my husband might debate the former) but rather it’s a new word I’ve seen bouncing around on Twitter. In layman’s terms, I’m a mix between a panster (fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants without previous plotting) and a plotter (where everything is detailed and plotted before writing).
Originally, when I first started writing, I firmly believed I was a plotter. I planned and made lists of everything. How could I not be a plotter? The plot of a story was so important – it wasn’t something I could leave to the variables and whims of my mind. Right?
Wrong. I plotted my first book and every time I tried to force the plot or subplot in one direction, my characters and story would take me in an entirely different direction. Revisions were a nightmare, because it would happen again… and again. I felt I had all these little strings in my hand leading to themes and plot lines, but instead of having a firm grasp of where everything was they kept slipping from my grip (and getting horribly knotted in the process!).
The next book I wrote, I decided to let the reins loose a little. I had a basic plot: where I wanted to start and end, with a rough theme and plot running throughout. And then I just went for it. This time, I found my subconscious played a large part in the process – I was able to weave themes and subplots while still having a firm grasp of all those unwieldy strings.
Then there was the rush that came with writing scenes I had no idea would happen until I started typing. It was better than reading a book or watching a good TV show: the characters and their actions came from me – my mind. I had ultimate control. When the characters and world would take over and lead me in a direction I didn’t want the story to go, I could go back a scene or two and rein them in. The freedom this gave me was liberating. I could let my creations breathe and live.
When I’m in the groove, everything is perfect. Birds sing in my head like they do in Disney movies, and it feels like I’ve reached the end of the rainbow and found my pot of gold: inspiration. It isn’t always like that though – there are times when I’ve carved out time to write, but every word is a struggle. At the time I’m sure that every word I write is garbage – but funnily enough, when I go back to revise, it’s often the words that are hardest to come by that shine the brightest. In other words (lol), I don’t have to edit the crap out of them.
So in summary, I’m a reformed plotter turned plantser who enjoys the comfort of a well cushioned couch and a delicious cup of tea while I turn my mind loose on the empty page. It’s my getaway from a hectic life — a place where I form worlds so my mind can play. Who said escapism wasn’t healthy?