Writers are often classed into one of two categories: Planners and Pantsers.
Planners are the ones who create an outline, sometimes with immense details, and plan out their work to a greater or lesser degree. They know their characters, locations, plot, beginning middle and end. They have most if not all of their work pre-planned, and they know where they are going throughout the writing process.
Pantsers are the ones who are more apt to go with stream-of-consciousness. They have no outline, and write by the seat of their pants (hence the name ‘pantsers’). They may start with an idea, either a character, a scene, a place, a plot, or some combination therein. They simply write. They go where the initial idea takes them, and maybe, in time, they figure out how the beginning, middle and end will all fall into place.
This notion of planners and pantsers can be applied to how people in general live their lives.
Some people need to have lists for everything. They need to plan their day to a greater or lesser extent. They might pre-pack meals, lay out clothes the night before, have a strict schedule for how their day will go. Some people plan out as much of their day as they can, to fit in many things or to make time for unexpected surprises. Planners have a good idea of how their day will start, how the middle of the day will go, and when and even how the day will end.
Some people just go with the day. They get up in the morning, and just let what happens, happen. They go about what they have to do by the seat of their pants, with little or no plan. They have a loose schedule, if any at all, and get dressed with whatever they pull from the dresser or closet. They just let the activities of the day carry them along, take then where they will, whatever may come. Pantsers have little to no idea how the day will begin, what the middle of the day will hold, or when and how it will end.
With most things in life, it is perfectly well to be a pantser or a planner, but it is ideal to find and strike a balance between both.
Planners, for example, are often ill-prepared for the unexpected. Something unwanted like a terrible traffic jam, or something potentially pleasant such as an unplanned lunch date, or something time consuming such as a business meeting might come up. When such that they do not have on their list or they have not scheduled occurs, they might become agitated and uncertain.
Pantsers, for example, are often ill-prepared when they have to keep a schedule, be it for a job or school or family and friends. They often find themselves at odds with the necessity of set plans and time and location specific activities and events. When they have to set or follow a strict plan, they might become agitated and uncertain.
How, you may ask, does this go into Pathwalking? Simple – when you are walking your path, you are making choices. Some small, some large, some easy and some lofty. But in order to walk your own path, you have to fit it into the framework of your life approach, whether you are a planner or a pantser.
Knowing this will show you how you might need to adjust things. When you are making the choices of walking your own path, planning will need to happen. If you are more of a pantser than a planner, this is going to require previously unnecessary discipline.
But as often mentioned in regards to Pathwalking, no path is without its curves, bumps, detours and other unexpected shifts. If you are a more of a planner than a pantser, this requires you to have less discipline, and to better accept those seat-of-the-pants situations where no plan will survive.
Finding a balance between these two extremes is important. Like with most things in life, a middle ground is important to realize…whatever you are trying to achieve. If you can be both a planner and a pantser, depending on the situation, you can walk any path with very little complication and difficulty.
So whether you lean more towards planner or pantser, it is good to know and see the opposite, and to study how to allow whichever you are least inclined to do for yourself to also have its place along your path.
So – planner, pantser, or somewhere between the two – how do you identify yourself?
This is the ninety-first entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.