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  • Lisa Q. Mathews

Confessions of a (Closet) Pantser


November has been a big month for me. My first book CARDIAC ARREST was published and—miracle of miracles—Book Two is safely in my editor’s hands. So now I’ve turned my attention to a few things I may have neglected for a while. Like my closet.

But before we get to that (I’d rather not), I should tell you that I am, by nature, a Pantser. We’re the kind of writers who gleefully fly by the seat of our pants. We toss aside (well, mostly) that guilt about not creating a detailed road map for our stories. We prefer to see where that road—and our characters—will take us, for better or for worse. Pantsers love to extoll the freeing, creative advantage to this approach. And sometimes we take a bit of grief from our total opposites: the Plotters.

Plotters love, love, love to outline—the more detailed the notes, the better. You’ll rarely find them craning their necks for an exit ramp to pull a U-ie because their story suddenly went south.

And then there are the Hybrids, who are neither true Pantsers nor Plotters. I want to be in that club, but so far, I’ve never been asked to pledge.

Okay, now you're thinking I’m getting away from the closet deal. (See, this is why I’m a Pantser.) What I meant to say is that I literally own an entire closet full of unworn pants. Mostly of the writer variety: Jeans. Sweat pants. Yoga pants (definitely more flattering on Yours Truly). Oh, and a bunch of conference clothes, because, as Mary-Kate and Ashley’s characters (I forget which) said in the Two of a Kind books, you can’t be an Outfit Repeater.

My writing area is located directly next to my over-stuffed closet. Lately, I couldn’t even get the door shut on The Beast. Each time before I sat down at my computer, I sort of snaked my arm in and extracted something to wear. I couldn’t look, because then I would have to organize it. (Did I mention Pantsers are also champion procrastinators? Any excuse, and we’re outta there.)

But now, with my manuscript finished, it was time to approach The Beast. I needed a pep talk, of course, before plunging in. Here are two great articles I found: one about the methods of Marie Kondo, a Japanese tidying consultant (hint: each item in your closet must “spark joy”) and another from the awesome Drew Barrymore, who sounds a lot more like me.

I swear I’m not a hoarder, but yeah, I’m sentimental about that dress I wore when I met my husband and that rugby team tee-shirt and my late dad’s herringbone vest. I still have my old ice skates, and yep, that red power suit from my NY editor days. All those ghosts from my closet tell stories, and as a writer I can’t bear to delete them. But the pants? They’ve got to go. Pronto.

Bet you thought I’d show triumphant Before and After pics here. Well…I’m still working on it. I hope to be an organizational empress before those revision notes arrive, but I have made progress on the pantser thing. Here are the jeans I’ve sorted: Donate to the left, Keep to the right.

As we approach the Black Friday frenzy, I’ve vowed to become a little less Pantser, and a lot more Plotter. This could be the beginning of a beautiful new closet. And maybe even a whole new way of writing.

So, Pantsers, Plotters, Hybrids, and Readers—any tips for keeping me on track?

#closetorganization #DrewBarrymore #MarieKondo #LisaQMathews #mysteries #pantsers #plotters #TheLadiesSmytheWestin

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