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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

Confessions of a closet Pantser

I have a confession to make.

I am a Pantser. 


I didn’t know I was a Pantser. I’ve never been a Pantser. But lo and behold, I found out this week that I’ve had a forty-year-old Pantser living inside me, waiting to come out!

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will be able to tell you without hesitation, that I most certainly must be a Plotter novelist. I’m slightly OCD (ok, maybe a lot OCD) about a whole lot of things, and organization makes me feel good. It makes me feel safe.

The current novel I’m revising began with a 30-page backstory. Thirty pages, people! And that was just the beginning! I have dozens (hundreds?) of pages with character backstories, timelines, revised plot lines (and even more revised plot lines). And I’ve got sticky notes all over my dining room wall, ready to be moved around at a moments notice. After my most recent writer’s conference, I even have pages defining the Myer’s Briggs personality types for each of my characters. And that’s just for one book. Holy schmoly, I. am. a. Plotter. 

I would read about Pantsers – you know, those people who just sit down and start typing and let the story create itself? I’d often hear them talk about how their ‘character’ had changed the plot completely but that they had to listen to what the ‘character’ wanted. Yeah, I totally didn’t understand any of that. At all. 


Until this week.

Usually when I’m writing, I like to write. Yes, I’m always open to following a writing prompt to get some practice in, and I do try to write 2-3 devotionals each week. But when it comes to my novels, I like to focus. 

And then over the weekend I got this grand idea for a new story. One of those stories that you just can’t get out of your mind and you lay in bed for hours thinking about it at night? You know, when you tell your family members to please stop talking to you at the supper table because you’re deep in thought over your latest book? Yeah, one of those. But the thing is, I wasn’t really dwelling on the backstory; the plot; nothin’. I just had a couple scenes in my head that I thought would make for a good story.

I sat down to jot a few words down so they’d be out of my head and I wouldn’t be so distracted from my other book. And then the next scene came to me. So I kept writing. Each day, it just kept going. And now I have over 10,000 words! 10,000 words, people! 10,000 words and not even one itty bitty outline to show for it. That’s a lot of jotting down!


And then it hit me…I’m a Pantser. 

I really, truly have it in me!! I’m not just a Plotter. I can see the beauty of what it’s like to write in a completely different way. And I’m loving it.

I’m not saying I’ll never plot again – Lawd, I don’t see how I can change myself that much. But I think there’s something to this Pantser thing – allowing myself to do a little less planning and to have a lot more fun with it! I can’t wait to see if I can actually get through this entire novel without making up one outline. 

What about you? Are you a Plotter or a Pantser? Or have you settled at a comfortable in between? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Happy reading, friends!

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