Planner or Pantser

1024px-brouage_san_luc_powder_house-flying_buttress.jpgI just did a blog on the importance of organized research, and I find myself in a research resurgence. My character, Nathaniel, is in Philadelphia now and I am spending a lot of time reading about the city, as well as ships of all kinds. That’s in preparation for his many months at sea. I’m looking forward to a naval battle!

Fortunately and unfortunately I have found a book, Two Years Before the Mast, which I think I should read to better transport me into the life of a sailor. This officially labels me a Pantser writer. It is largely agreed upon, at least in the blog world of writers, that there are Planners (those who plan their novels, from plot to detail) and Pantsers (those who just start writing by the seat of their pants).

I tried to plan, and researched a fair amount before I began, but I started writing before the blueprints were complete. I don’t feel bad about that, but now I find that a temporary research wall must be erected to keep the building from collapsing. To continue the metaphor, I can revisit the plans to better engineer the wall, or I can build around it and buttress it later. This is the struggle for a Pantser.

If I were to accurately measure time researching versus time writing, assuming research done prior to writing takes as much time as during writing, then I may see there is no lost time. However, lost time isn’t the problem. It’s momentum. Here’s Nathaniel, although not eager to begin his journey, nonetheless standing at the shore waiting for his boat to be written. Because I am now so tied to Nathaniel’s life, I feel the anxiety he feels. Where is this boat? (He doesn’t curse; I would be cursing.)

From what I’ve read, even Planners run into roadblocks, but they are pebbles in their shoes instead of boulders in the valley. It’s too late for me. I’ll be reading that book. In the future however, I’ll try to refrain from pantsing myself.

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