Saturday Writers

Committed to Writing

     If anyone were to ask me if I were a pantzer or a plotter, I wouldn’t have a definite answer. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m not free-spirited enough to be a pantzer and not quite OCD enough to be a plotter, but I do have tendencies in both directions. I guess I could be called a spontaneous-anal-retentive predictably-unpredictable schedule-dependent-wild-girl.

     Yup, that’s me!

     Sure, I sit down and plot the basics out for each story before I get started. Otherwise I would be all over the place and nothing would make sense by the time my hero and heroine hooked up. Okay, so chaotic dating and unknown variables are how romance works in real life but not in romance books. What person’s life is plotted in real life and actually sticks to that plan and ends up happily-ever-after? Nobody that I know of.

     Well, maybe Princess Diana, but we all know how that ended.

     Anyway…

     In the beginning, I draw up an outline to plot the general skeleton of my story – that’s about all the plotting that is involved. The rest is by the seat-of-my-pants. Literally. I never know what direction things are going to take and by the middle of the book, things have usually strayed so far off the original plan that it becomes a different story. And to make things really interesting, I may reach the middle of one book and actually throw the guts of another story into the mix. Believe me, I have lots of other stories waiting on the shelf to be written so their material is fair game for use in current plots.

     I’m not so different from most of my other writer friends. We all have our personal styles of writing and study habits, but the bare bones of it is that we come up with an idea, we do a little – or a lot – of research, we have an idea of the direction we want the story to take, and then we start writing. Some of us map out the plot, some of us just store the idea in our heads and revise it as we go along. Whatever works.

     Okay, confession time.

     Maybe I am a little obsessive.

     I have to plan things in life. I’m not real good about activities that are spontaneous, which goes against my issues with commitment. I don’t like to be tied down with certain responsibilities and expectations, but I am a very responsible person. It just has to be my idea and on my schedule.

     Wacky, huh?

     If I were to look at other areas in my life, maybe I’d find some clues. When I go shopping I tend to park in the same general area – I always thought it was because it would be easier to find my car but maybe it’s some sort of a commitment. Have I plotted my actions ahead of time?

     Hmm.

     What about other areas of my life?

     On work days, I get up at the same time every morning, after hitting the snooze exactly six times. It takes me the same time to get ready for work, the exact routine every morning, and I’m out the door the same time every morning.

     Yikes! That sounds committed!

     I clock in at work the same time, tackle the same projects each day, and clock out at the same time each day. My lunch hour is exactly noon to one o’clock.

     Listed under the word “plot” in my thesaurus are such words as conspiracy, design, development, machination, plan, scheme, stratagem, diagram, graph, outline, and contrivance. In that same thesaurus under “spontaneous” (“pantzer” isn’t listed) are such words as automatic, casual, impulsive, instinctive, involuntary, unconscious, and unintentional.

     This makes plotters seem like soldiers and pessimists, rigid and controlled, dedicated - nothing wrong with that. Pantzers are more optimistic and free spirited, flexible and intuitive – nothing wrong with that either.

     I stick with my original assessment: plotting involves commitment, pantzing involves refusing to give in to commitment.

     Now, what have I decided to call myself?

     Where so I fall in the scheme of things?

     That’s easy, I am a writer who plots by the seat of my pants! How’s that for commitment!

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