Planner, pantser or just disorganized?

Don’t you just love those writing life blogs and e-zines that ask whether you’re a planner or a pantser when it comes to planning stories? A planner is someone who outlines their plot point by point and writes character profiles and color codes schemata showing character placement and timelines, etc. A pantser is a writer who just feels her way through the first draft, waiting for the characters or the writing gods to tell her what the story is about. She’s basically flying by the seat of her pants. Get it?

What do you call yourself if you basically played with a vision for a novel until you had 50 or so pages of material, then you sat down and tried to outline the mess because characters were spinning off on adventures in every direction? At one point I could describe the chapters from start to finish–a proud moment indeed. Then I started to actually write those chapters with intent and things happened. Mysterious things.

Some characters cooperated. Others did not. Plot hitches raised their ugly heads like a massive nest of disturbed sea snakes. New episodes that could not be ignored had to be worked into the plot. Lots of great stuff had to be snuffed out. I couldn’t tell you what the hell my style is, but I hold onto my tattered outline and mark all over it so it makes no sense. And sometimes I just have to write a lot of stuff to get from A to B. I refuse to allow myself two versions of the whole WIP, but I will save a few scenes that I just don’t have the heart to delete even though they don’t fit anymore.

I’m half way through the third draft and I am feeling better about the first half, but I’m in that saggy middle, and man, it’s a mess. Just trying to keep faith chapter by chapter now. I have so much more sympathy for those writers who I felt failed me in the second half of their novels. The odds of me joining their ranks have never been better.