Monday, November 10, 2014

Battle of the sexes: to obsess or not obsess, that is the question

Arizona and I are headed for a major (happy) Life Change, and as the big old countdown to Holy Crap chugs along, I am aware of (and amused by) a major difference between the two of us. To put it in writing terms: I'm a plotter and he's a pantser.

A plotter does her research, thinks about the book's beginning, middle and end, and has a pretty good idea of what is going to happen before she starts writing. A pantser (no, autocorrect, I don't mean 'panther,' even though panthers are Very Cool) dives right in to writing the story and makes it up as he goes along. He might have a high-level idea of the story (hm... I think I'm going to write an alien love story set against a geopolitical movement involving hard cheese), but he figures out the rest of it on the fly.

I have been both a plotter and a pantser (nope, still don't mean 'panther') over the years, in both my stories and my life, and the thing is, I'm convinced that I eventually wind up with the same product in the end--I just got there two different ways. And just as when I'm in plotting mode, it would stress me out to have to shift gears and write into the mist (without a plan), when I'm in pantsing mode, I don't want anybody hovering over me, telling me it's time to plot.

So, too with me and Arizona. 

This past weekend, we went to an all-day class to help us prepare for our Big-Happy. It included videos. Do you remember the spaghetti films from Driver's Ed? The ones with lots of blood and gore, and messages like "don't drink and drive" and "don't drive distracted"? Yeah, they were like that. There were flip-books, too, and some unsettling Q&A periods. Afterwards, when a family member of Arizona's asked how class went, he replied, "It was fine. Good to know where to park and how to find the cafeteria."

Ah, the male perspective. 

Me? I came away from class feeling more settled about the whole process. I, too, am happy to know where to put the car and how to find food. But I also like knowing all the other details, including What Could Go Wrong and What To Do If It Does. See? Plotter. Arizona, on the other hand, would far rather pretend the day didn't happen--because if it did, then he has to worry that Something Might Go Wrong that He Can't Prevent. Pantser.

And you know what? I'm okay with that. In fact, I like it. It's one of the many ways we balance each other out. He reminds me to enjoy today and not spend so much time thinking ahead, while willingly (or at least without active foot-dragging) going along with things when I announce: "I need a plan." Not to mention, we really do seem to wind up at the same destination nine times out of ten, even coming at things from different directions ... and the tenth time is usually that much more interesting because of our different takes on things.

So how about you? Plotter or pantser? (Or, apparently, 'panther'?) Would you rather know what's coming or find yourself surprised? 


  1. Congrat! on you and Arizona'a Happy Life Change.. ..if talking about "happy life change" a lot of plotting is needed now and then with the "change" arrives, it is more panster.
    I like to think in my life I'm a plotter but it ends up being with others plotting and me panstering. Take care, Nancy

  2. I am a plotter! I usually have a few back up plans, just in case, but I will most likely be very grumpy if the original plan does not go according to...well, plan LOL!

    Also...Jess, you watched the video?!?!!? Why would you do that???? *cringes* ow!

    I am so happy for you and Arizona! :D Plans are nice (I am a big fan of plans) but there is also nothing wrong in relaxing and really enjoying where you are right now. So, prep. But be happy, too :) xoxo