I confess (by the seat of my pants)

by Penny M

I read Bridget McNulty’s article entitled Sometimes Plan but Sometimes Wing It. Bridget is a published author in USA and South Africa. Bridget, the brain behind her Now Novel program, designed to help writers get going on that novel, believes that Writers can be divided into two categories: pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write without planning while plotters prepare beforehand with extensive outlines …

I had never heard of the term Pantser, and so I was immediately off on my journey through the internet to see if Bridget had just made this up.

Mouse Rider

According to Urban Dictionary.com, Sharing the pronunciation of the German word for “armor”, the pantsie believes the pantser is, in fact, some kind of Nazi fascist scum. Actually, the pantser is a NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned …

What is NaNoWriMo? Oh yes, that stands for National Novel Writing Month which I am, in fact, poised to take part in, albeit eleven days late.

The Urban Dictionary continues, This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the ‘planner’, who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.

Now I know why my hesitations, procrastinations and tardiness irritate those plotter friends of mine. Sorry peeps, I confess, when it comes to writing and a few other important things like living, Facebook, Blogging and Linked-In, I’m a Pantser. I drop in at the last minute. The rush is amazing.

What is even more alarming is the realisation that I was paranoid about planning when working in the corporate arena. I had to be perfectly prepared before I set up an appointment, gave a talk, met with a client. There weren’t enough hours in the day to be perfect. Now my PJs are starting to show signs of fatigue.

Cindi Myers, another successful author, wrote in her article Plotter or Pantser: The Best of Both Worlds (see Writers Library)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you outline before you sit down to write your novel, or do you sit down at the computer each day, waiting to be surprised, writing your book literally by the seat of your pants? Or are you a combination of the two?

Her step-by-step is really helpful.

When it comes to my consultancy work and business dealings, I still don’t like to be surprised, but have learnt to seize an opportunity, no matter how clumsily. I can always sweat the detail in the ‘wee’ hours and deliver the perfect plan tomorrow. At least deadlines are under my control. In spite of the unfortunate fact that most deaths are unpredictable, part of my service is to ensure that plans for that eventuality are in place well in advance (see my website www.matternatter.com for more information).

I have always felt deprived about my name, just Penny (not even Penelope) nee … My brother had a second name. Practically everybody I knew when I was a kid had more than one name, some even more than two. I was thinking that Penny M. Pantser might be kind of hip; or Penny M. Plotter. Instead of waiting for 11.59 and 59 seconds pm on 31st of December 2014, I have decided that my resolution is to be less of a Pantser and more of a Plotter. In the meantime, I have chosen a pseudonym for my novels. It is Penny M. Grace (my paternal grandmother’s first name).


8 thoughts on “I confess (by the seat of my pants)

  1. jac dowling says:

    Love the illustration Penny, and the sentiments. Pantser’s clearly not to be confused with Panzer -‘ fast mechanised armoured units’ which, on reflection, would probably be quite useful in the case of writer’s block. You just start up and go like the clappers!

  2. jac dowling says:

    I forgot to say how much I like Grace – quite apart from being a lovely, gentle name, it’s also part of our smallest granddaughter’s 3 names. Viva Penny M. Grace. Viva Olivia Jacqueline Grace.

  3. Susan says:

    I confess to being a plotter, but I think you already knew that, my friend. Secretly I think that even pantsers work best when they have some idea of where they’re ultimately taking the story, but it’s great to be open to new changes in your plot.

    One of the best ways of doing this is to research far beyond what you think you need. A chance meeting with a seemingly unrelated fact on the internet has sometimes provided me with a spark that nudges a plodding plot in a more exciting direction.

    I also try to give my characters differing personalities so that one of them is impulsive and likely to do spontaneous things, irritating the more stable character and thus providing an extra bit of conflict.

    Good luck with NaNoWriMo, by the way – you know you can do it!

  4. Sue says:

    Well I like to think I’m a combo, the panotzer! But as long as the words are flowing you may call me what you like. As for names I have a friend called Shelly, so you are not alone in your boat. I always thought it odd that my parents named me Susan and I do not recall ever hearing either of them call me that, even when enraged!.

    • jac dowling says:

      Ha – you’re lucky…imagine having ‘Jacqueline’ delivered basso profundo or high soprano and in an enraged state! Think I’ll take your advice and try the ‘panotzer’ and hope the words flow…may get lucky.

  5. Panotzer? Now that’s one Google doesn’t recognise, but I know what you mean, Sue T. To be honest, being a Pantser is a bit stressful. I’m already running out of steam in the NaNoWriMo.

    • jacky says:

      It’s one for the next Oxford dic. Penny – the open-minded and ‘today’ one. suggest you try it out on them!

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