As far as writers and their lingo go, there are two types: First, there are planners, who spend hours working on character inspiration boards, developing meticulous outlines, and sticking within those frameworks as much as possible. Then there are pantsers, who fly by the seat of their pants, sitting in front of their keyboards or notebooks and letting their imaginations fly, leading with wherever their characters and ideas may take them.
I’ve been writing for two decades and have shifted and pivoted my approach to whichever way works best for me and the project at the time. There are some projects that required rigid outlines and were planned out to the letter beforehand. Other projects were developed on a “let’s see where this takes us” spur-of-the-moment whim.
I can say with full conviction that I am a complete 100% planster.
A planster is a magical hybrid — we like to have an idea of what we’re writing and where we’re going with it, but a loose enough framework where we can go somewhere else if need be. This approach works best for me as a writer because I find it’s a great approach to life in general and what works for our family.
I like having the ability to have plans but the flexibility to not overschedule myself. This means I rarely double book events and can adjust accordingly to a change of plans. It’s not always foolproof — sometimes scheduling conflicts happen or things don’t work out exactly the way I’d hoped.
For example, our daycare was recently closed for a couple of days, one of which was a Monday. I was hoping to bring my son to the Children’s Museum, assuming it would not be busy on a Monday morning. Turns out, they’re not even open that day! Thankfully, we have a family zoo membership, so there’s always that as a fun day activity if other places are closed.
As someone who has had trouble adjusting to changes, the planster lifestyle has allowed me to become more accepting to them. I have high-functioning anxiety, and adopting this way of thinking has been immensely helpful in the way I respond to changes. I don’t get as overwhelmed or frustrated if things don’t go exactly the way I wanted or anticipated. Life is always going to come with hiccups and bumps in the road — learning how to deal with them has been a game changer.