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You Might Be a Pantser If…

Last week’s Professional Writing Tip introduced you to the concepts of being a “plotter” and a “pantser.”

The first is a person who feels much more in control of their writing efforts and results when they base them on a pre-prepared outline.

The second is a person who feels much more in control of their writing efforts and results when they just sit down and start writing.

Neither way is right or wrong in a universal sense. But it’s a whole different story on a personal level, with each writer having to figure it out for themselves.

Or are you a pantser?

This time around, we’re discussing two signs that could potentially be pointing you to Option B.

Outlines make the much more organized pantser types breathe easier about the writing projects they have before them. Like a security blanket or the soothing sounds of a lullaby, such authorial sketches have a way of helping these writers shut out all the unnecessary noise around them.

Not so with someone on the opposite side of the writing style spectrum, however. For pantsers, being told to write an outline is like listening to nails on a chalkboard.

It sets their teeth right on edge.

I know it does mine.

That gives us a pretty easy way to tell if you need to take up pantsing. Ask yourself this: Do you hate the very thought of writing because it entails constructing an outline first?

If the answer is yes, then problem probably solved.

Stuff the outline. Tell it where to go – far away from your fingertips – so you can get right to composing your opening line.

And then your opening paragraph.

And then every paragraph after that.

If that feels at all unnatural, feel free to try something somewhere in the middle of all-out plotting and all-out pantsing. Write out your main point and a few supporting facts you know you want to mention.

Then pants the rest away.

Maybe you don’t hate writing outlines. They may not be a security blanket for you, but they don’t make you want to tear your hair out either.

Yet, you have to admit, your final copy never even remotely resembles the sketch you started out with.

Don’t worry. It happens.

To pantsers.

If that revelation is intimidating to you or you just don’t think you’ll be mentally prepared to start your pantsing without an outline to go off of, that’s fine too. Remember: There isn’t a universal law you have to live by here.

If you want to continue making outlines like a plotter, that’s your business. Just keep in mind that you might be wasting valuable time by continuing the way you always have.

I mean, when you end up writing something completely different from the barebones draft you began with... did the barebones draft really help?

Feel free to answer that with a yes if it’s an honest yes. Feel free to answer it with a no if it’s an honest no.

One way or the other, it should be about the best way for you to get your message out there to your audience.


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