Saturday, November 30, 2013

Plodder or Pantser: Approaches to Legal Writing


Recognizing the Source of Writer's Block

A plodder is the type of writer who creates an outline or a well-established story structure before he or she ever begins writing.  A pantser -- as the name indicates -- flies by the seat of his or her pants. A pantser writes first, then organizes later.

So says, Pam Jenoff, in her article: The Self-Assessed Writer: Harnessing Fiction-Writing Process to Understand Ourselves as Legal Writers and Maximize Legal Writing Productivity, 10 JALWD (Fall 2013).  Jenoff also suggests that each writer is both plodder and pantser depending on a number of factors, including:
  • The nature of the project
    • Size
    • Subject matter
    • Etc.
  • Whether one is co-authoring.
  • Whether one is required to submit an outline in advance of publication.

Each type of writer faces different challenges when it comes to the next stage of writing.  

The free-writing pantser often can't get the material she's written properly organized.The plodder, in contrast, may feel stymied in getting words on paper.  He needs a way to jump start creativity.

Jenoff suggests that most legal writers fall in the plodders category.  They may need some exercises to help them begin the actual writing process.  

In my next posting, I'll describe one of those techniques to surmount writer's block. 

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