So which are you? The first two are often debated on writing blogs and many writers fall into either the panster camp, or plotter camp. Does it matter and is one better than the other? In the unlikely chance that someone hasn't come across the terms, here's a simplified recap: a panster normally writes 'by the seat of the pants', without a complete plan preferring to see where the story takes them, while a plotter (as it suggests) begins only after planning out a story or novel in fairly comprehensive detail.
And the procrastinator? That's me. Only, until this weekend I always said I'm a panster - I've never plotted a story or novel in my life, so far. Now, I'm convinced that panster is just another word for procrastinator in my case. I've been putting things off for as long as I can remember. And it has seeped into my writing life. Someone might recall the list of 'works started, or in progress' that I mentioned when debating about doing NaNoWriMo in November - it was a shocking list of procrastination. Novels started and abandoned, in the hope of getting around to finishing them 'one day'.
So this weekend, I admitted to being a world-class 'putter offer' of things (although husband has often said as much). Maybe that's why I'm a panster, in the hope that if I just start writing when I feel like it, I'll have a story or even novel at the end. But it's really because I can't be bothered knuckling down to doing the work in a planned, focused manner. And I need a deadline - a metaphorical whip - to make me finally produce the goods. I finally understand this after deciding at the last minute to enter a competition for a novella or novel. But I'd forgotten the deadline was yesterday and I only remembered late on Friday.
I could have let the chance go past, but I'm occasionally quite determined (husband calls it stubborn) and decided to turn a 3,000 word story into an almost 16,000 word short novella over the weekend - in between going out, cooking meals, ironing and watching a few TV programmes. Did I do it? With the skin of my teeth. But I have to say that keeping off the Internet and social media made the biggest difference in achieving it. And I loved writing it, as the basic outline of the novella was already partly in the short story - but I'd always felt this deserved to be a much longer piece with a completely new subplot added and had never been bothered to rewrite it as such. Just wish I'd given myself more time.
And this made me question the way I write. It flowed so much better through having that basic outline and knowing where the story was going before trying to write it all. Devoting concentrated time to it meant I stayed with the characters and they became even more real to me. And I completed a new piece of work that had long been waiting to become more than it was before. I'm going to have to think about this more carefully, once I catch up on everything I neglected over the weekend.
So does it matter if you're a panster or a plotter? We're told to find what's right for us. But I'm having trouble finishing the novel I've been writing as a panster and I know I'm going to have to change so much of what I originally started with. Maybe I need to stop and do a basic outline for the whole novel before writing another word of it, check I'm on the right track. Now I just have to make sure I don't procrastinate and leave the poor novel languishing for another month. As for the competition - it's not the fact I entered that excites me, it's completing my first short novella.