As I’ve written many times before, I’m all about freestyling when it comes to writing. That’s the way I write best 99 times out of 100. Maybe even 999 times out of 1,000.
In the creative writing world, this style preference is called “pantsing,” a less wordy way of saying “writing by the seat of your pants.” The opposite – when you plan everything out beforehand with outlines, bullet points and the like – is called “plotting.”
Contrary to what some people say, one is not superior to the other. Different people with different brains and different ways of processing their thoughts naturally have different forms of efficiently expressing themselves.
(Hence the reason for the free report right below.)
It’s all about figuring out your particular brain, your particular way of processing and your particular best form of expression. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
For that matter, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to fall into one category or the other. It’s just as acceptable to find your happy writing place somewhere on the spectrum as to be full-blown on one side or the other.
Many times, writers will simply gravitate toward that happy writing place without ever knowing the “technical” terms behind what they do. But just in case someone has brainwashed you into thinking you have to be one way – when you’re actually the other – here are a few friendly tips…
If you find yourself using too many “buts” and “yets” in your copy, you might be much more of a plotter than you think.
The same thing goes for “however” and the much more old-fashioned “nevertheless” or “nonetheless.”
Admittedly (there’s another one), I love those words and I’m just about as far from a plotter as possible. “But” I use them to establish an argument and then provide alternative theories and perspectives. Like I just did there.
That’s fine (up to a certain point, of course). What’s not fine is when those alternative theories and perspectives confuse or diminish your message.
If they do, you might want to try an outline on for size.
It doesn’t have to be an intensely detailed outline. Feel free to start out small like this:
State your thesis.
List a one-sentence summary of your supporting points
Add in one argument to each of those supporting points.
Include a counterpoint to that argument.
Tada! You’ve got an outline to work off of.
Now go see if it helps.
Another excellent nudge in the plotting direction is when you find yourself going down too many or too longwinded bunny trails as you write.
Depending on your topic and where it’s going to be published, a little bunny trail or two might be cute. It could even be effective.
It’s when a bunny trail turns into an interstate that you have a definite problem.
Just because you can draw a connection between point A and point 43 doesn’t mean that you need to. Or that you should.
If your brain has a bad habit of taking your write-ups in that kind of direction, a solid outline is almost guaranteed to help in every way possible:
Cutting down on your time spent
Helping you present yourself more professionally
Giving readers a much better chance at understanding your main message.
If plotting helps you achieve those goals, then let's be honest. There’s really no reason to pants.