Creative chaos to live by…

Hi, my name is Pam and I’m a pantzer. Which means I write by the seat of my pants. No outline, lots of notes jotted from ideas that swarm and bite at me like mosquito’s. And so I swat them. The most persistent ideas live to suck my blood and create an unceasing itch. Which I scratch.

 Out of these pesky ideas, characters are born. Or sometimes a character will yammer loud enough above the swarm in my head, I’ll take notice and flesh (or flush) them out. One time my hero started out a man and became a woman, and I’m not talking transvestite. Just the evolution of an idea.

 Being a fine artist, I draw and paint with words. Humorous scenarios are my favorite. Even I’m not sure what my characters will do once they stumble into a scene or dilemma. So I let them fall, wallow, get up, scramble, converse, lose their cool, struggle and fight. Dialogue pours onto the page like sticky syrup, oozing around and between characters, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, hopefully interesting. And I absolutely love it.  Pure creation.

There is a downside to being a pantzer, aside from its addicting qualities. Often the spontaneous spew is overwhelming. Scenes, dialogue, character attributes and interactions co-mingle with descriptive narrative and conflict, all fondled by my love of language. An artesian well of information that, at some point, must be dammed up, siphoned, redirected… very ‘sink or swim’-ish. Much ends up in the editing dumpster. All this eats time like Godzilla on crack.

 I may wish… I may want to write a novel in a few months, but my process is one of tortured nurturing. And I mostly like that too, because a scene or action I think amazing one day, after a month has become irrelevant or as dull and flaky as old makeup on a face. More often, a later event in my story will spin me back to revise and rewrite. And that’s when my imagination kicks into high gear. And I go a little nuts.

 I tend towards OCD with a warped sense of perfectionism thrown in. I see warts and blemishes in every supposedly finished product; painting or manuscript. Often unfixable since these imperfections take on a life of their own, becoming an integral part of the composition. Hence my neurosis. So when someone asks me about my creative process, I say it’s messy, chaotic, unfettered and an absolute high better than any drug. And when the final touch-ups are done on a work I’ve created, I’m satisfied. For the most part.

 Or I start over.




  1. Your description is perfect. I too am a pantzer and it does have it’s pitfalls and triumphs. I’ve tried plotting and my characters quit talking to me, so I put away my graphs and charts and coax them into coming back out. It is chaotic, but fun. Great article!

    • Isn’t it fun? I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s like standing at the edge of the high dive and you know you’re going to jump, it’s just fun to psych yourself up! Are we crazy or what?

  2. Fun post, Pam! I’m a sort-of-pantzer. I call myself a pant-lotter – because I *do* use an outline…it’s just that the outline doesn’t always look like the finished product. 🙂

    • I so get that, Kristina. With time a short commodity, some sort of plan is in order… wish it was more in my nature!! Thanks for reading my post!

  3. Now here’s a woman who loves her job! Pam, I love your analogy that ideas buzz around you like mosquitoes. It’s so true. Some bite and need a scratch, some fly right past. I wrote my Crimson novel as a pantster, but did so much revision on it, I thought I better learn to outline a bit. So now I’m trying a little of both.

    Thanks for sharing your process!

    • Thanks, Sharon. All of us have to love writing or we’d have given up long ago. I swear it’s in our bones at birth. A genetic imprint. And you are so right, I often flail too much and need the discipline of at least some kind of outline… tho I never stuck to one, even in school when it meant the difference between a D or a B!!

  4. I’m a pantser – but when I get into the middle of the story, I have to outline my way out of the muck. Like I am right now. I measure out the chapters, know – kind of what needs to happen (my friend calls this bullet pointing) then where I should be at the end. It helps.

  5. True confession time. My name is Irene and I’m a pantzer. I always love finding new seat-of-the-pants writers. When I started writing, so many of my idols were outliners and I *wanted* to be an outliner, too. It just wasn’t in the cards. So I went on a search for other pantzers. Know what? We’re in pretty good company! Go Team Pantzer!

    • Thanks, Irene! I had the same experiences, the same panics about trying to be an outliner. I constantly remind myself as a pantzer that we are out own best creative inspirations!!

  6. Love your description on your ideas within you 🙂 congratulations!

    • Thanks, Kay. I’ll bet you know what that feels like too. Creative processes, glad they’re delegated to the right brain realm!!

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