Finishing My Pieces
Not finishing my creative pieces and stories is a problem that I have been trying to solve for a good while now. From that problem came my goal to “Develop an effective writing routine that’ll ensure the completion of my pieces”. This goal is a more defined mini-goal that derives from my greater goal to write. You can see the rest of my writing goals in this post. But since then I have been working towards this goal and much more.
Now, I still consider myself a fairly new or beginner writer and am grateful for how much I progressed. But judging according to the size of my official portfolio, which you can view here, I still have a really long way to go; Writing pieces can take really long and even longer depending on the writer, the type of piece, the research needed for a piece, the writer’s motivation and so on.
So far I only have one piece published in my portfolio. And that particular piece didn’t take too long because I needed to get it done for class. I also received feedback on it, which helped me improve it a little faster than I might’ve improved it on my own.
So, if writing pieces aren’t an instant noodles kind of thing and get better with practice, why is my goal to finish pieces? Why am I in such a rush?
My goal is more about moving toward finishing my pieces. I have seen a trend in my writing process within my pieces where I seem to get stuck after a certain number of pages. Or after an amazing introduction to a piece that never really starts. Since this was happening in all of my pieces ( which are like 3 official ones, plus some occasional creative writing assignments for class) I decided to reflect and figure out a way to move my piece towards finishing. And this reflection was a whole process that you’d have to read my recent blog posts to be able to catch up. Blog posts that explicitly covered this are
Wanting to find a routine or strategy to help me move past a couple of pages I stumbled upon outlining and plotting in my research and web surfing. Before this semester I had no idea people outlined their fiction stories, I thought authors get inspired and then just sit and write. And they do, well, pansters do. Pansters just write their story needing little to no pre-organization or pre-planning. They just flow. Whereas plotters plan or outline their store ideas, plot, and series of events before they start writing the story or novel. Pansters initially and primarily rely on their inspiration, discipline, and fingers to write their story. And plotters rely on organization and inspiration to move their story along.
So after finding out about plotters and pansters I explored this topic more because I want to know which one I am. I have a feeling that knowing this will definitely help me refine my writing process and routine in a way that’ll help me progress my story towards completion.
I am studying creative writing and have to write often for class. For my English class this semester. I have to complete a manuscript. And as the deadline for the manuscript gets closer, the more I want to finalize this journey and get on with a successful routine. Finding a successful routine may take some time, because I have to try it out and find what works for me. But my next step towards accomplishing my goal and finishing this manuscript is this question.
Am I plotter or a panster?
Am I A Plotter or A Panster?
School can be a lot of things but my classes sure do keep me on my toes. Of course, I am in college where students get to study any field or subject to pursue. But really, my classes keep me progressing in my writing. Especially the English ones, as they should. Nonetheless, I have had the chance to experiment and use both methods, plotting, and panstering, to write my creative pieces for homework or in-class assignments.
For my Creative Writing in Fiction class, I’ve exercised lots of panstering. In that class, we often write for a few minutes based on prompts the Professor gives. And during these in-class assignments, I’ve gotten to see that panstering is instantaneously productive. Whether what I start with is good or bad I can start writing and build on something. Panstering also exercises and stresses my inspiration, and creativity and I like it that it does. With panstering, I am able to experiment, flex, and just write.
But not for long panstering seems to take me only so far. About a few pages to be exact, sometimes just a paragraph. I seem to get stuck somewhere along the way not knowing where to go next or how to go next. And I find myself backtracking and re-reading what I’ve already written to mentally try possible puzzle pieces. This is usually around the time when I start ordering the events and things I’ve gotten down far. Practically planning and organizing. While panstering is very liberating, I feel as though I can’t write without an outline or at least a simple plan.
For blog posts and essays, I find great with outlines and pre-organization. Hopefully, it will be the same in my creative writing.
You can see my experience experimenting with plotting or panstering with Onward in Writing In Dialogue – My First Complete Piece In Dialogue
I’m both. I am a plotter and panster aka planster.
This is also the case for many other writers. So if you’ve been trying to figure out whether you’re a panster or a plotter, don’t be surprised if you’re both. I’ve found that I do need a structure or an outline of some sort to move my plot forward. Even if I don’t stick to what I planned, the outline helps to move me past the usual couple of pages. I’m not interested in plotting my story to the tee, but just enough to keep me going in the right direction. And I as I move through the outline I can panster the story to the finish line
So with all that exploration and trying this is what I’ve come up with
Step 1. Get/Have a story idea and be inspired/motivated to write it.
Inspiration is thankfully not an area that I need too much help with right now. I have tons of inspiration and ideas for stories and books. It is worth pointing out that this is a necessary part of this routine and method. Inspiration could mean that you and I get really inspired by something we saw or heard. Or having a deadline for our next book or creative assignment that motivates us to write on.
Step 2: Panster
I prefer to panster for a little bit before I plot. When I get inspired for a story my ideas start jumbled and make no sense. But in this stage, I am usually very excited to start and am able to write without too much thought. Even though my thoughts start jumbled, writing them out however they come is an easy and productive start for me. I usually start writing based on that inspiration. For example, if I were inspired by a unicyclist speeding through traffic. I can write a random or themed scene on that.
During this writing, I get ideas for how this scene could be a part of or be the foundation of a story or book. Here the bigger picture of a book or complete story starts to form. Including these ideas and all those other jumbled ideas. But by the time I get a gist of possible story plots and characters, and events, I get stuck. Because ironically now that I know where I want to go, I’m not sure how to get there. My previous attempts to panster on past this point have been terrible.
Step 3: Plot
So after I’ve got a beautiful sort of a piece made from panstering and have ideas for a plot, character, events, and so on, I’ll plot. My creativity actually flourishes this way. Though sometimes I do get bored plotting, trying to just panster my way through a piece runs my creativity faucet dry quick. Plotting, although it may be unattractive at times, cranks the knob for my creativity faucet up high. While plotting I get more ideas and am now able to organize them.
As I’ve said this stage of plotting doesn’t have to be extremely specific. However I plot, the point is to organize my ideas in a way that helps me plan and take my next moves. Often times I’ll have a great plan and totally derail towards something better. Nonetheless, the plotting moved me towards completion.
If you’re a plotter don’t worry about abandoning your plan. These sorts of changes when plotting can lead you towards something better.
Step 4: Panster
After I’ve plotted my next moves. I refer to that plan to panster on and fill in the important points and markers within the plotting. As I use my plotting to help move towards a better story direction, all I have to do next is write.
Like coloring in the lines, after I’ve drawn an outline for the image I want. Writing in this step is my making those organization decisions and shifts become pages and pages of a good story.
Step 5: Whatver else is neccesay…
Writing a book or story entails much more, but according to what I am trying to accomplish right now, these are my five steps to move my stories forward towards completion. So in step 5 after I’ve gotten a great chunk of my story down or finished. I can do whatever I need to do next like re-write, edit, get feedback, and so on.
Is Plotting or Panstering Better?
Reading this you may wonder if It’s better for you and me to choose one. You know, be a plotter or panster, not both at the same time. Right? But I believe one kind is not superior to the other.
If panstering brings out your best stories and books, then panster. If plotting brings out your best stories or books, then plot. If the two methods are the perfect duo for you, then do both in a way that’s best for you.
Its no secret that every writer is different ( in their approach, genres, diction, structuring, writing styles and cliches, and so on), so you don’t have to subscribe to one category of writer. Whatever works best for you and your writing is the way to go. If you plot and panster you’re a planster.
A Manuscript Due Early Next Month
My manuscript is due on the 9th of May of this year. So I’ve got about 2 weeks to get it done. I haven’t decided whether I want to create a completely new piece or use a piece that I’m already working on. But I do have ideas for either decision. Whatever I choose, I know I want to start now so that I can have some time for revision.
After publishing Onward to my Portfolio, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how a little more revision could have made it better. In the Writing In Dialogue – My First Complete Piece In Dialogue I wrote for the publishing of Onward, I did point out how I will make an effort to revise my work more and give them more time to be revised.
Now two weeks is not adequate enough time for me to produce a decent piece. But I refuse to fail so in two weeks, shall produce a 12-page manuscript that will apply this method and be revised. Producing a finished piece will definitely be easier because I have my strategy for completion: panster then plot then panster.
And I’ll be using this routine and method to help do just that.
If you’re a planster what are your methods?
Until my next words (on here that is)