In one of the writing courses I did last month, I learned that there are two types of writers: plotters and pantsers. Plotters plot out their story before they start. They probably have an outline for the book, detailing the twists and turns so that they know what happens before they even write the first sentence.
Pantsers, on the other hand, literally fly by the seat of their pants. They may have an idea about a scene or a character or a sentence, and when they sit down to write, they enjoy where the story takes them.
I’m a pantser. Without doubt. I can open up my laptop and start typing, or pick up a pen and start writing. When I read back what I’ve written, I’m as entertained and surprised (or bored and disappointed…) as anyone reading my work for the first time. What’s written is new to me too.
Anais Nin may have journals, erotic literature, short stories and essays to her name, while I have only journals (and no likelihood of erotic literature), but I’m going to take her quote one further and say that I write to taste life three times: I get to live it, write about it, then read about it.
In life, I’m a pantser too.
I don’t have a diary. We have a free calendar from The Weekly Times on the wall. The one with the farm dog photos each month.
At this time of year, that calendar has something written on lots of little squares. School nativity play. Kindergarten concert. Sell raffle tickets in the street 9am. Clean up duty at kinder 1.30pm. Morning tea school 9.30am. Eye test 11am. Recycling bin. (I’m serious. Even the R I’ve drawn with the circle around it every second Sunday creates enough of a schedule to make me sweat and I find it a little hard to breathe.)
All those deadlines screech at me as I sip my tea in the morning.
I like my days to be like a new Word document on my computer. Ready to fill with spontaneity:
‘Sure, let’s go for coffee!’
‘I need a haircut. Today.’
‘I don’t like that character in my novel. Let’s get rid of her.’
‘Our recycling bin is full. I’d like to put it out on the roadside now.’
I’m like the opposite of a list person. I don’t want a list. Lists are full of dot point threats. And if they’re not all crossed off at the end of the day, you get to complain that you didn’t get a thing done today.
With no plans for the weekend, we baked. We made biscotti for teachers at school and kinder. And salted caramel pretzel bark for them too. Because as if pretzels, peanuts, chocolate and caramel aren’t all good enough on their own.
And the girls filled in these Dear Teacher Letters I saw on the Be a Fun Mum website, filling in the gaps about what they like about their teacher, how the teacher makes them feel in class and what their favourite day of the year was. What a cool idea.
And maybe the teacher will smile at it and throw it out. Maybe they’ll look at all those calories and think, ‘Please. Buy me a box of fruit.’ But I liked that the girls had to put in an effort with the gifts, put time into baking, thought into writing.
And that’s where this blog entry has ended up. I just started writing. Now I’ll reread it. And I’ll get to enjoy our weekend’s effort a third time. Fourth if I eat some of the pretzel bark.
How about you – plotter or pantser in life? Got much on at this time of year? How do you cope?