Writers, for the most part, are keen observers of the world around them. It's something that's so natural that I think we forget that we're doing it. I've been out at lunch before with friends from Sisters in Crime or RWA and we'll stop talking to listen to the couple on the blind date behind us or the guys across the aisle debating the need for side dishes when all you need is meat to be full.
And I've observed something interesting this past week as I watch my fellow writers get ready for the big RWA conference in Washington D.C. - you can tell the pantsers from the plotters.
Now in writing terms, pantsers are those that start a book and then just see where it takes them. They let the action and the characters unfold on the page. Plotters, on the other hand, tend to go into a book with a road map of what they'd like to see happen. It can (and often does) change, but they have a plot going in.
So I'm seeing the plotters in my writing groups do the same thing with trip packing. These are the people who were trying on outfits last week and deciding what to wear on each day of the conference. I know at least four of them who are already packed for a flight that doesn't leave until tomorrow. And I know one who emailed me this weekend to remind me to run off my boarding pass 24-hours before the flight. Megan has also emailed again today to make sure I did it. That's organization.
And while Megan Kelly is fricking awesome because, no, I have not run off my boarding pass yet. She's also a hard core plotter. She writes with an eye for detail and she likes to know exactly where a book is going. My pantser friends, on the other hand, are going to think I'm smart if I remember to email them later tonight about those boarding passes. And forget about packing - they've got tomorrow morning before that afternoon flight.
Now I'm in between. I kind of know what I'm going to pack and I'll do it tonight. Was going to do it this afternoon, but it felt right to write a blog post and so that's what I'm doing. I'm more of a plantser when I write. I have a loose plot, and then I let a lot evolve on the page too.
A lot of new writers will say that they're not sure how to approach their writing - if they should outline and plot heavily first or just jump in. My advice? Look at how you pack for your next trip. It'll tell you a lot.