Pantsing Your Life


Writers often classify themselves as pantsers, plotters (outliners) or some combination of both.

  • Pantsers are those who write by the seats of their pants. No plan, no outline, nothing is set in stone. The story emerges with a life all its own, often taking unexpected twists and turns along the way.

I was thinking about this the other day and realized this is how I live my life.  In part this is something that happens to many work-at-home people, just by the nature of working without an imposed structure, without a clock-in, sign-in job.

I don’t follow a routine, and things often distract me and send me down various rabbit holes and side streets.  I might intend to write X words or revise Y story on a day, but I get an email concerning something at my volunteer job that needs following up, or I look outside and get an idea about how to rejigger the garden… and of course dinner and shopping and laundry and kids and housework and taxes and filing …. you get the picture.  Or, I need to do all those things and I start a story and my mind is lit on fire – eight hours later and I have a story but I haven’t done any of the other things I’m responsible for.

Overall, I get enough results this way – my home responsibilities get done, more or less; I have stories published and more written & subbed; I manage to finish my non-fiction freelance work; I do things with family and friends.  But what if I lived my life with more intention, following through on my intentions?  Could I reach the next level, get more done, write more effectively, use my time more efficiently?

I’m probably too old to change completely, but I’d like to start small and add one or two routines and see if I can up my game, just a little.

What are some routines you follow?  Are you also a pantser or an organized plotter of your life?


4 responses to “Pantsing Your Life

  1. I’m all pantser for short stories, for novels I have an outline about as rough as a map drawn in crayon. I dig the chaos… it’s got a certain truth that I fear I may completely structure out with order and planning.

  2. I think I’m a combination that varies between the two at times. Both sides have their own strengths and weaknesses, and maybe the key is knowing which one to go with!
    Congrats on reaching your W1S1 goals.

  3. I long to be a plotter, but I think I’m naturally more of a panster. I’m always trying to add more routines to my writing and my life, but I usually stop doing them before they become permanent. Right now, I have a good housework routine going, but my writing is definitely more haphazard. I think I’m still at that point where I think everything else deserves more time than my writing. But I’m working on it. 🙂 Nice work with W1S1.

  4. I tend to vacillate between the two — in both my writing and my life — but I tend to be more of a plotter in life and a pantser in fiction. Way to go on meeting/beating your W1S1 goals!

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