Are You a Planner or a Winger?

I’ve been stuck all week trying to think up a topic for this week’s blog post—you know, something that all of you would like to read about. I’ve jotted down ideas. None of them seemed great. I’ve gone back to the older posts, trying to pick something that I hadn’t written about before. I’ve gone to a list of topics I keep for future articles. Still, none of them were articles that I wanted to write about today. Maybe next month, or even the month after that, but not today. So yeah, I guess you can say I’ve been stuck.

Until right now.

Earlier tonight I went to the ice rink to watch my son’s hockey scrimmage. The rink was freezing cold like always—the kind of cold where your toes sting and your nose is cold to the touch. While my son changed out of his hockey uniform in the locker room, I waited in the snack bar hoping to find enough warmth to thaw out. I didn’t find as much warmth as I was hoping for, but I did find something else—an idea for my blog post.

I ran into a nine year-old girl who likes to write stories. I know this because her brothers play hockey too, and our families are friends. As she waited in the snack bar with me, she told me all about a story she is writing…and another she is working on too. She rattled off about five or six ideas for each. I could hear the excitement in her voice and see it on her face. She told me she wished she had brought her backpack to the rink so that she could have worked on both of them some more!

My little friend didn’t seem to have a plan for writing these stories, or even know when she would be able to work on them again, but she had her ideas and that was enough to get her started.

And that’s what got me thinking.

Are you a planner? Do you plan out your story before you write it? Do you make an outline first? Do you know how your story will end before you even begin? If you do, you might be a planner. You might like the order that it brings to your writing. You might like how easy it is to remember details because you’ve made a note about them first. Lots of writers work this way. They keep a notebook that’s full of ideas for their book. They make a story board that includes the beginning, middle, end, problem and solution. They do all of this before they start writing. They like planning it all out first.

Or are you a winger? Do you like to wing it? Do you like to take a fresh sheet of paper, a sharp new pencil and see what they can do? Do you like to think up a topic and start writing right away? If you do, you might be a winger. You might love to figure out what’s going to happen in your story—as you write. Sometimes a story will unfold in a way that’s different than you ever even imagined it could. This is another way to write and it works for a lot of writers.

Some writers are a combination of both. They plan a little of their story out first, and wing some of it as they go too.

So what are you? Are you a planner or a winger, or maybe a bit of both?  Me? I’d say I’m a bit of both. I do a fair amount of planning, both before I start writing and even when I’m half way done. But I have to say that I love to wing it too. There’s nothing like the feeling of letting your character take over and seeing where he or she would like to go. Those are the times when my best ideas break free. So of course I let them swirl!

So whether you’re a planner or a winger, always write the way that works best for you! 🙂

1 thought on “Are You a Planner or a Winger?”

  1. I think I’m sort of both. The three novel-length stories I’ve finished writing are all winged–the idea was too exciting to wait for an outline! But the trade-off was that the plot was riddled with holes and loose ends and tropes about as common as rocks.
    When I plan first, I make sure the characters are fleshed out, the storyline is strong and has unexpected twists and subplots weaved in. But…I lose interest. I look at my writing and feel like it’s not good enough. I’ve never finished any fiction pieces longer than 4000 words with an outline.

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