You may of heard there are two kinds of writers, pantsers, who write by the seat of their pants. They let the creativity flow and discover the story as they go.
Plotters plan it all out in advance. They know the ending before they write “once upon a time.”
I’ve done a bit of both. But at this stage in my career, I am now solidly a plotter.
This is thanks to an excellent workshop hosted by novelist Maggie Stiefvater. The workshop is available via Etsy. I’ve learned a lot about writing, but the biggest thing I think I’ve learned is to know exactly what kind of book I want to write before I write a single word.
Maggie stresses that writing is about deciding what kind of book you want to write before you write. And then sticking with that as you write. This means you need to be mindful while writing. You can’t just wander off down any path. You need to be present and active and paying attention to what you write.
Or well, at least, I need to be present and mindful and focused when I write.
Making the decisions in advance, knowing the mood, setting, characters, plot, and resolution all in advance makes the story so much more intuitive. It frees you from worry and helps you focus on all the fun parts – dialogue, action, word choice – the sprinkles on a perfectly baked and frosted cookie.
That baking metaphor is intentional, just like my writing. I started thinking about a story a year ago, in the summer of 2019. I thought and thought. I didn’t realize it but I was making decisions. Then I signed up for a novel workshop course that had a homework assignment: plot your novel before writing it.
I decided to do the homework. I came up with a very tasty plot, a sweet problem, and a satisfying conclusion. Yes, it’s a story about baking. I wrote this novel in a few short weeks, probably about 6 (but I didn’t work on it every single day). And it’s one of the best things I’ve written. Because it was PLOTTED. I was mindful all the way through about what kind of book I was writing. And don’t worry, the creativity flowed.
In 2021, I plan to make decisions and be mindful in my writing. Team Plotter all the way.