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Planner or Pantser?Which One Are You?

Updated: May 15, 2023

Have you ever heard the terms planner and pantser in writing circles? In this article, we’ll explore what planners and pantsers are in terms of writing, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how the differences in their planning methods affect the writing process.

What is a planner and a pantser?

Planners and pantsers are both types of writers, but one is quite different from the other in their approach to time management. A planner is someone who likes to meticulously plan and follow a structured outline, while a pantser prefers to dive in and write by the seat of their pants without any prior planning. Being a planner has its advantages—it means better organization, less stress, and a clear roadmap of what they want to achieve. However, being a pantser has its benefits too—more creativity, less time spent planning, and essentially letting their imagination run wild.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you know? If you aren’t sure which side you’re on, good for you! That means you probably haven’t developed any bad habits yet, and perhaps these pros and cons of each will help you decide.

Pros and Cons

whiteboard with outline and sticky notes
A planner's board

Advantages of Being a Planner

When it comes to time management, planners have a huge advantage over pantsers. First and foremost, planners are better at organization. Some planners have outlines for their outlines, if you know what I mean. Planning helps in setting priorities, ensuring that deadlines are met, and avoiding last-minute chaos. Not to mention, the satisfaction that comes with ticking off tasks from your list.

If you have control over your time and you know what needs to be done next, it offsets a lot of the stress some writers face. Also, planners usually have procedures in place to flag possible problems as they arise, making the fix that much quicker and easier.

Overall, planners can achieve a perfect work-life balance and experience less burnout.

a pair of blue jeans flying through the air
Fly by the seat of your pants!

Advantages of Being a Pantser

Do you dread outlines? Do you like to just sit down and write and write, and write some more? Do you enjoy letting your creativity flow without any restrictions? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might be a pantser!

You enjoy the freedom to explore different ideas without the limitations of a pre-planned schedule and you like to express yourself in unique ways. This can result in producing more engaging and innovative content, which can hook your audience.

Another great advantage of being a pantser is the time saved from not having to create a detailed plan. Planning can take up a significant chunk of time, leaving less time for actual content creation. As a pantser, you can save that time and focus more on actually writing, editing, and refining your content. And, if an idea pops into your head, you have no problem jotting it down on a napkin or leaving yourself a voice memo.

Lastly, being a pantser can be a lot of fun! Creating without any restrictions is liberating and can lead to great satisfaction and fulfillment when you create something that is uniquely your own.

Disadvantages of Being a Planner

For starters, planning and organizing takes away from the valuable time of actually writing. You know—moving your story forward? Planners are more rigid, and tend to have less flexibility in their schedules. And just think about this: what happens when a planner sits down to write during their allotted time, but the words just won’t come out?

As a planner myself, I’ll tell you what we do—we go organize our characters, or whip up a spreadsheet, or get on and brainstorm the words forth!

Seriously though, over-planning can lead to burnout. The pressure to keep up with a detailed schedule can become overwhelming, especially if unexpected complications arise. When every minute has been accounted for, there is little room for serendipitous creativity. Often, it's those spontaneous moments that lead to breakthroughs, and planners may never experience them if they're too tight in their scheduling.

Despite these potential pitfalls, there are certainly benefits to being a planner. However, it's important to weigh the costs and consider striking a balance between structure and flexibility.

Disadvantages of Being a Pantser

As exciting and spontaneous as being a pantser may sound, it does come with its fair share of disadvantages. Without a solid plan, it’s easy find oneself heading down a rabbit hole of brainstorming and idea generation, ultimately leading to a loss of time and productivity.

Another pitfall that pantser writers may face is hitting a creative wall. This can be frustrating and demotivating, leading to a decrease in overall motivation and output. Without a clear plan or roadmap, it's easy for different ideas and themes to become muddled or lost in the process. This can ultimately lead to a final product that doesn't quite meet the initial vision or falls short in certain areas.

In the end, if you are a pantser, or if you see yourself becoming one, be careful to keep track of time and other vital information as you go. Let those creative juices flow, but don’t forget about all the other areas of your story.

a man writing with both hands with papers flying around

Planner or Pantser?

So Which Type Is Best?

To recap—in the battle of planner vs. pantser, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and work style. We were all probably born one or the other, just as we were born to write. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, with planners having better organization and control over time, while pantsers can tap into their creativity and have more fun. Or you can be like me and try to practice the good qualities of each, while avoiding the bad habits of the planner and the pantser. Like I said, try... I hope I was able to teach you something today, and if not, there's always next time. If nothing else, I hope I was able to put a smile on your face, during these strange days. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, so don't block the path. Cheers!

  • Quick question—which type would fare better during NaNoWriMo?

I’m brand new to the blog scene and I’m learning more and more every day. I’ve come a long way, but I’ve got a long way to go. Please show your support by subscribing to the Narrative Niche blog. Thanks!

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