The discussion on Facebook reminded me that I have some posts related to Martha Alderson's The Plot Whisperer. She does some good work on organic writers in that book.
What's Not Helpful For Organic Writers
From the Original Content post, Organic Writers and Plotters, September 28, 2013:
"Organic writers, she says, tend to think in pictures, as in "the big picture," rather than language, while plotters go the other way. They are more analytical and detail oriented. Organic writers tend to prefer writing about characters while plotters prefer dramatic action. Organic writers tend to see a story as a whole and are short on details. Plotters tend to see the story in its parts. Organic writers may concentrate on character and end up being weak on the action that drives readers to stick with a story. Plotters may concentrate on action scenes and lose readers who need human interest.
I agree with a lot of what Alderson has to say about organic writers. Our interest in the big picture tends to leave us going, Okay, how do I get to that big picture? This is why formulaic plotting plans often aren't very useful for us. They involve coming up with details. A problem to solve and roadblocks to solving said problem or, heaven help me, metaphorical doors to go through or not are more mystifying than not for us. If I have problems coming up with details, telling me to come up with details isn't going to provide me with a lot of help."
I would just like to repeat the last sentence of that last paragraph: "If I have problems coming up with details, telling me to come up with details isn't going to provide me with a lot of help."
And, in my experience, that's all formulaic plotting plans do, tell you to go find details.
Why "Organic" Means More Than "Pantser"
From the Original Content post Let's Get A Little More Definitive About Organic Writers, Oct. 13, 2013
"I've often wondered why organic writers are called organic writers. Is it because we sort of grow a story, as if it's some kind of living organism that we can't control, can only nurture? That's a little woowoo for my tastes. You sometimes see definitions of organic that involve interconnectedness or elements that are part of a whole. That's what I think is the issue for me and my kind.
Remember, "plot" is only one of the elements of fiction. Opinions vary on how many elements there are, but whatever the number, organic writers have trouble isolating one of them, plot, from the others. For us, character is most definitely tied up with plot, and plot can be tied up with setting, and voice and theme can be tied up with everything. We can't separate one thing and work on it all by itself. We can certainly try, but we find ourselves reworking things over and over again because, for us, character interaction suddenly leads to something happening we hadn't plotted out and as we get more and more involved with a theme new ideas for how to present it may suddenly appear. All the different elements offer up material at some point or another, not just plot, and not in a very orderly manner."
I would like to repeat these two sentences: "For us, character is most definitely tied up with plot, and plot can be tied up with setting, and voice and theme can be tied up with everything. We can't separate one thing and work on it all by itself."
And, in my experience, that's what organic writing is about. There is nothing seat-of-the-pants about it.
I have sometime seen sneering accounts of organic writing, and I think the term "pantser" and "plunger," which I just learned today is another term for organic writer, are often meant to be derogatory. For that matter, plotters are sometimes treated as less than, because well-plotted stories often fall into genre categories and are sometimes considered to be not very literary.
Organic writing and plotting are merely methods of getting a job done. There is no better or worse about them. It's in your best interest to figure out which type of writer you are and work on becoming really good at it.