Are You a Plotter, A Pantser, or a Puzzler?

Candy Puzzle
Candy Puzzle

When you create, are you a plotter, a pantser, or a puzzler? In a way it doesn’t matter. If you’ve figured out your method and it works for you, that’s fantastic However, it’s an interesting question to consider, especially if you’re struggling to make yourself fit into someone else’s mold.

About a year ago, a writer friend of mine asked this question on her Facebook writer’s page. Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’d never heard those terms before. Reading the definitions helped me feel better about the method I was developing. At that time I had to say I’m a pantser. I cringe at the thought of plotting every little aspect of the piece I’m writing, then follow my plan to the letter. I like to leave room for the muses to speak to me.

We each have our own way of doing things depending on our personality type. People with my personality type use lots of intuition, so it’s important for me to be open to any new directions my piece might take. I have a general idea where I want the piece to go, but sometimes I take a circuitous route to get it just right. I kind of feel my way as I go along. There is something about the uncertainty of how the piece will work out that appeals to me.

Recently, I visited a local writer’s group that I used to belong to, and learned of two more methods of working. During the meeting, the leader was talking with the new members about the different ways you can create your work. I was interested in a concept that was new to me, the puzzler. He said that while the plotters and pantsers work in a more or less linear fashion, the puzzler writes scenes at random and then decides how to organize them once they feel they’ve got the components to the story finished. At the end he casually mentioned those of us who are hybrids, people who combine more than one of the three basic methods. Wouldn’t you know, I’m one of those.

Thinking back over the last four years of writing my first novel, I saw how my method developed. At first I just began writing with only the vaguest idea where my story was headed. Much later scenes would come to me at the oddest moments, often just as I was waking up. I’d go write out the scene, then decide how to fit into the storyline.

It’s my opinion, there are no right or wrong ways to create. Each person needs to discover their own method. You can read all the books about creativity, and the “how to” lists, but in the end, you just have to begin and see what works for you.

So, which one are you: a plotter, a pantser, a puzzler, or a hybrid?

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