The Writers Circle: Planning or Pantsing

One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Today we’d like to discuss how you begin new projects.  Do you always make a plan before you start writing the story? Do you fly by the seat of your pants and write whatever comes to mind? Do you use some sort of blended method?  Is your strategy different for longer works than it is for shorter works?

Discuss this topic here in the comments or head on over to the forums to start or engage in a more thorough discussion.


3 thoughts on “The Writers Circle: Planning or Pantsing

  1. Sometimes I have a “plan” or assignment I am working from, but just as often I do a free writing session and see what comes out. Normally the seed of an idea comes to me after I’ve been doing something like walking by the ocean or in the woods or even just doing some yard work around the house. Often the idea for a story or a poem comes from a question I ask. Sometimes I’ll look at something and ask how did it get that way? Or what would I do in a situation like that.

  2. My first novel, I was a “pantser” – I didn’t know how the story was going to go until I got there. This slowed me down, I’m sure, because I occasionally hit a dead end, then had to back up and go another direction. Now, once I have an idea I’m excited about, I will write a summary of the plot – a very general one, and not detailed. Then each time I start writing, I’ll hand-write for five minutes the scene I plan to write that day. Again, very generally, but it helps me write a lot faster and with direction.

    So I’m a mix now of pantsing and planning. I do plot out a book (though that plot is very flexible), and I do make a general blurb to myself about a scene, but otherwise, my characters largely drive themselves.

    Not that I’ve had time to write my own stuff lately as I’m buried in academic writing, but that’s what I do when I can. 🙂

  3. For many years I considered myself a pantser. I thought I just sat down and spun out whatever came to mind, going back later and fixing the messy parts. Now I realize I’m an organic writer, coming from a combination of well planned and detailed notes with a natural flow of the story. It allows what is intuitive, maybe even poetic, to merge with my near obsessive need to understand every mechanical or historical detail.

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