Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are You A: SOTP, Plotster or Linear Planner?

**I love deadlines. I love the sound they make as they go whooshing by.**

Someone remind me who wrote that…
Photo Credit
I love deadlines. I work best under a deadline and am pushed to go farther and exceed expectations knowing I have a goal to meet. Because I am goal and reward oriented person, I find I push myself harder knowing I won’t like myself at the end of the day unless I get done what I need to get done. ;-)

Having this in mind, I stole my father’s desk calendar (yes, I asked his permission first) and plotted out my schedule for the rest of the year. Now all you seat- of- the- pants writers and plotsters, don’t hyperventilate, because I have a few suggestions for you as well.

Even though I am SOTP writer, I like to know where I am going, thus I coined the term “plotser”—alas, Stan Williams must have crawled into my head and stole the term from me…but that is another blog post for another time.

You need to evaluate who you are as a writer and as a planner. And your writing life and your planning life can be at complete opposites, like mine is. I am a very linear planner. I plan my haircuts two months in advance. ‘Nuff said. And to keep me working on my writing instead of off playing on Facebook and Twitter and Blogging…(I digress), I need a solid goal to aim for.

These goals have proven to keep me up past my normal writing time to get edits and word count in so I can celebrate with a fist pump when I reach that pivotal goal.

Do you like to sit down at the computer and discover what the day holds?

You are a seat-of-the-pants planner. This works for you. You realize what needs to get done, but you also like to discover and you like to see how much of that you accomplish.

Do you like to make out a check list for what you want to get done in the next few days, the week?

Then you are a plotster planner. You know where you are headed, but you discover it in little increments.

Do you like to plan out deadlines for months in advance? Look at your schedule and evaluate what you can get done and when, taking into consideration days that will come up that weren’t part of your schedule? And also taking into consideration that you can push yourself harder than you gave yourself credit for?

Then you are a planner. You like to know the road ahead and where you need to go.

Even if you are a SOTP planner, maybe you can try to be a plotster or linear planner. It might not *completely* work for you, but you might discover you need a tangible goal to reach for—you might find you maximize your writing in stronger ways.

So a few tips for you, things that have worked for me and hopefully will work for you.

Seat of the Pantsers:

Always keep in mind of the future and what you need to accomplish and when. Maybe write a date really quick on a white board or sticky note to keep in front of you. Just to keep that in the back of your mind.


Same thing, only you probably jot down daily and weekly goals. Be realistic of those goals and push to meet them and go beyond, but realize life happens and sometimes goals have to be pushed to the side. Our writing life should never take center stage away from those we love.


You can have the most fun! But realize as you lay out your calendars and sticky notes and generated reminders, that life happens. Sometimes we have to push our goals a bit farther back in order to preserve the sanity of those we love.  With that said, do not look at any change in the plans as an excuse to push those goals further away. Hold yourself to them. Find an accountability partner and make them keep you focused.

Remember, whoever you are in your planning, be cognizant of your deadlines, your goals and your daily to-do’s. So many times I think I know what I need to do for the day and realize I really need to check my calendar. It is smarter than I am. *wink*

There are pitfalls to being any kind of planer. But here is the beauty: most of us are not contracted yet, we have the opportunity to play around and see what we can do and when we can do it. We will realize early on how long it takes us to write a book and how long it takes to edit. Embrace this period of time, because we are learning in more ways than we could ever realize.

What plans work best for your writing life and how do you implement them and keep yourself “honest” to those goals?

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people.


Sarah Forgrave said...

Well, as you saw last week, I live and die by my to-do list. Okay, *die* might be a bit extreme, but you get the idea. :)

I've learned to only map it out one week at a time, though. With little ones around, they have a sneaky way of switching things up. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm a former pantser who has realized the value of plotting. These days I would qualify as a plotser.

Keli Gwyn said...

It's early in California, and I'm not fully awake. That was supposed to say plotster. =)

Casey said...

SARAH, I find that a to-do list really helps me stay focused and working towards that goal. Huge difference. :)

KELI, You seem like a plotter. ;-) And I love being a plotster-it lets me be creative, but at the same time with some structure. :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

I think I'm a plotser planner. I like dealines, schedules, and organization. I like to know where I'm going and how I'm gonna get there but discovering scenes along the way is great. I can't plot every single scene before I write. I just can't!!! Okay, I'm breathing deeply.

Great post, Casey and fun!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Casey, I just have to say that I'm glad you put that "life happens" at the end. I love plotting and planning and it makes me super productive. But the days I miss something on my list or don't quite make my word goal are hard. I have to keep reminding myself that life happens, that missing one check on my list isn't going to hurt - especially if that check is cleaning the bathroom :) I really don't mind missing that one! But you know what I mean. I'm still being productive and also learning to balance life, writing, and everything else that comes my way.

Thank you for this post, Casey!

Pepper said...

Don't tell Sarah, but I don't have to-do lists.
I'm sure she'll be shocked to discover that.

I DO plan. I read a post recently by Mary Connealy where she said that she identifies most with SOTP writers, but she always goes into a story with a plan. That's me. In fact, I'm usually planning out a story a month or so before I ever write a word. When I start writing, I usually have a good idea for the start, a few scenes for the middle, and a fairly strong idea of the end.
I know where I'm starting teh journey - I know where I'm ending the journey, I'm just not quite sure what's going to happen as I travel in the middle :-)

Fun stuff!

And deadlines are VERY good for me too, Case. Challenges are even better ;-)

Rachel said...

I think I'm definitely a SOTP, I try to plan things but that seems to take out the fun of writing for me as I write notes and never turn them into stories. I get them accomplished so much more easily if I get all the ideas out of my head by just sitting down and typing and letting the real story form on the screen.

Also, the quote is from Douglas Adams :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Casey, you and I are a lot alike I think. :) I'm a planner all the way. I haven't planned out every scene of my story, but I have written about 20 pages of ideas, plot necessities and random conversations that my characters will have on their journey. It's been very helpful as I've attempted to do my own sort of NaNo this month. Setting a goal of 2500 words/day for 5 days each week has been so helpful. I'm finding I can exceed that, when I put my mind to it. :)

Speaking of, I have about 1,000 words to write tonight. So, off I go to my story.

Thanks for all the great ideas!

Casey said...

JESSICA, I'm so the same way when it comes to my WRITING. I don't want to know where I'm really going either, except for the high points to hit, but when it comes to my schedule...organization all the way baby! :)

CINDY, I know what you are saying. I have to give myself persmission to let life happen. I do. Because if I don't, like you said, I feel guilty. But as long as I don't treat that like an excuse, it's an okay thing. :)

Casey said...

PEP, I can so hear your voice right now as I'm reading your comment. We need to chat soon! Miss you. :) (And agree with your comment, 100%)

RACHEL, ah! I never remember who writes quotes, thank you. :) I told my mom today, I would forget my own head if it wasn's screwed on. I'm probably put it on crooked too. Anyway...I love how you write! It is so fun to discover a story as you go. Great journey!

Casey said...

JEANNE, wow, you're doing great to write 2500 words 5 days a week, good for you!! I'm cheering for you. :) I don't like to plot my stories, but I do like to plot where I need to go and what deadlines I need to hit. Makes me so much more productive. Like writing a 1000 words tonight when I didn't want to. :) Enjoy reaching that NaNo success, because I have no doubt you will! :)

Niki Turner said...

I live my daily life with the greatest ease and sense of accomplishment when I have a simple to-do list. WHY has it never occurred to me until now that I could do the same thing with my writing? It would be a lovely trade-off from my current wild-eyed SOTP method and the dead-in-the-water planning and plotting I've tried before! Thanks! You turned on a light bulb for me with this post!