Sunday 12 May 2019

Nerd Church - The Writer Diaries: Patchwork Writing and Whatever Works For You

(Warning: this post discusses the everyday affects of Depression/Anxiety)

Some people are 'plotters,' some people are 'pantsers' - and I write in patchwork.

For those who don't know, writing fiction is generally split into two camps by the people who split things (whoever they are - I'm not sure anyone's ever met them) - plotting and pantsing.

writing and knitting stuff on a desk
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Plotters are those quirky folks who are somehow able to come up with a plot first, work out the entire outline of their story, and then write scenes etc. to make that outline become an actual story.

...that's so weird, though.

I have no idea what black magic these people are working, but I wish them well.

...and am considering whether a crucifix would work on them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer holding out a cross
Via Giphy

Pantsers are people who write 'by the seat of their pants' - i.e. they start writing, and hope it works out in the end.

I used to be able to write like this. Long, long ago.

...Simpler times.

People who can combine the two forms are demi-gods. No question.

But I am neither. I can never fit into a neat little box, can I?

Nope. I gotta make my own box.


What does that mean?

That means that my Depression/Anxiety has completely f**ked my concentration span and the way my brain bounces around from topic to topic makes it almost impossible to write a linear narrative.

Needy from Jennifer's Body: I used to be normal.
...OK, so I was never 'normal,' but you know what I mean!

Via Giphy

What I have instead are little scraps - sometimes a few scenes (when writing fiction, anywho,) but more often part of a scene.

I'm not exaggerating here - I'll write a random paragraph or two, and then realise it's actually a continuation of a li'l section I wrote a week or more ago. Even though I've been writing at least a little bit of this project every day.

When blogging, as opposed to writing fiction, I end up adding things to previous paragraphs and sections and/or inserting new ones, deleting old ones, etc. in a pretty random goddamn order.

Did I write this blogpost like that?

Yes. Yes I did.

With fiction, I honestly have no idea whether I'll ever be able to figure out what belongs with what scene, or what order the scenes go in.

It's a little like doing a jigsaw while not knowing if you have all the pieces...

...and having some extra pieces from another puzzle...

...and not having the picture on the box to go by...

Yay? I guess?

It's both infuriating and a lot of fun.

It's fun, cos I can see little things in these scraps that I can combine with others and somehow form a functioning section/plot-point/whatever-the-hell-I'm-doing...

But infuriating because tbh I have no f**king clue what I'm doing at any one time!

I also end up double-guessing myself, and over-thinking things - like, even more than usual!

So I kind of have to keep telling myself to Not. Do. That.

(I'm still working on the whole having-patience-when-writing deal-y!)

BUT there are most definitely some serious perks to patchwork-writing!

Writer's block? Not an issue.

I can write plenty... I just have to put it in some sort of order afterwards!

Also, I can actually WRITE!

The whole Depression/Anxiety deal-y just... I really can't focus on a linear narrative enough to actually write it any more.

I end up literally crying cos it feels like my brain isn't working and I end up in a negative thought-spiral.

So with patchwork writing I avoid that, which is kind of cool.

I can still write.

It doesn't matter if it's different and comes with its own set of challenges - it works.

Depression can't take that from me.

It doesn't matter if your path is a little different, dearest nerdlets - own it!

Whatever works for you is the way to go.

You don't have to do the same as everyone else.

You don't have to do things differently to everyone else - if what other people do works for you then go for it!

(In case you're interested:

I nearly deleted this post five times because I didn't have a clue where it was going.

Yes, it was written in patchwork. Yes, I double-guessed myself.

Turns out I had a point in there somewhere, who knew?!)

Do you ever do things a little differently?
How do you write?
Talk to me! 😁💬

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Last updated: 29th May 2019


  1. I am 100% a pantser in that regard then. I just cross my fingers and hope for the best!

    I really enjoyed the Buffy gif in this post too, btw :D

    1. Ha, go for it!

      And yeah - she knows that plotters are actually dark magicians ;)

  2. I write a bit like you I guess due to depression, meds and the conditions I have. It's very sporadic. I can be writing one paragraph, then my brains flicks to an earlier paragraph & wants to add something to it or move it. It often feels like my brain is 100 miles ahead of my fingers - it's hard to explain lol

    Sarah 🌺 || Boxnip || Latest Post

    1. I know *exactly* what you mean! You end up in, like, forty directions at once, and nothing's *quite* in the right order for how your brain wants to work on it! Own it and rock it! <3

  3. I'm not especially fond of the word 'pantsers' because it hasn't got the greatest taste (Synaesthete problems - lol!) but it's not as bad as some words so I can still use it.

    Thank you so much! It's more reassuring than I can say that people actually enjoy what I'm writing! :) <3


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