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Why I’ll Always be a Pantser - Week 3 Recap

Another seven days of writing every day! Woo!

I’m only 3 weeks in of 52 weeks, so I have a long way to go. But I’m feeling pretty pumped! Bring it on, future writing days!

I realize that I haven’t mentioned what project I’m working on. My current WIP is a middle grade fantasy book with humor elements. I’m in the middle of the first draft, or as I like to call it the ‘I don’t know what I’m writing, but adding in cute animals will solve everything’ draft (IDK! draft for short).

Along with there being a lot of writing advice for general writing/writerly life, there is tons of conflicting advice specifically on how to write your first draft.

One one hand, you have the plotters. Plotters believe that you need to have details, details, details before starting to write even a single word. This can include doing in-depth backstory studies of all your characters, filling in plot charts/mapping out chapter beats, diving deep into your world building, spending hours researching, crafting pages of outlines/treatments, etc.

One the other hand, you have pantsers. Pansters tends to write by the seat of their pants. They allow the plot and characters to form as they’re working through a first draft. Whether they know very few details of the story or have most of it mapped out in their head, they typically tend to start working on the manuscript right away, as opposed to writing a detailed outline first.

Then on the third hand, you have a plantser, which is a combo of a plotter and a pantser (and is also what you call a plant that has achieved knighthood). A plantser likes to do some minimal research and plotting ahead of time, but doesn’t need to figure out all the details before starting a first draft.

As you can imagine, some plotters of the world think pantsers are a bit nuts, and that real writers must know everything there is to know about their story before starting a draft. Then there are those pantsers who believe that plotters waste a ton of time getting bogged down in the details as opposed to spending that time actually writing.

Regardless of which camp you belong to, I want you to know one thing:

Do what works best for you!

Both of these methods are perfectly wonderful and legitimate ways to go about writing a first draft. If you like to plot ahead of time, great! If you like to make stuff up as you go along, great!

Figure out what works best for you, and then stick with it. Don’t try and change just because another writer says you should.

For instance, I am a full-out bona fide pantser.

When I start a story, I know very very little about it. Maybe I have a loose premise in mind, a location, a single scene, an inkling of a character. I love taking that teeny tiny seed and turn it into a complete story.

Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a writing craft book that told me that pantsing wasn’t the correct way to approach a new story. The author of these books had lots of arguments that all made sense and used a number of plot devices, character worksheets, mood boards, etc that also made sense.

For them.

Not for me.

I’ve tried to be a plotter. And I hated it. It sucked all the fun out of my writing and at times, even deterred me from a certain story idea because I’d lose interest after dissecting it to death.

After every failed attempt at becoming a plotter, I would wonder if something was wrong with me. Like maybe I wasn’t a real writer because I couldn’t finish a plot graph to save my life.

Luckily, I came to terms with my pantser self earlier this year.

I’m a pantser, now and forever.

Here’s why.

The thing I love most about writing stories is discovering something new. I love writing words and characters and worlds that surprise me. I love to create, to craft, to explore, to make mistakes. I love seeing where things take me and being impressed by my own imagination. I love the challenge and infinite possibilities a blank page brings.

I learn best by diving in head first and getting my hands dirty.

I write first drafts best by letting my creativity run wild.

That is me. You can be you.

The important thing is to finish the draft, so write the story however works best for you.

My mood regarding the past week: Heck yeah!

My mood for this coming week: Get it, gurl!

Other insights: Going into the Year of Writing project, I thought writing every day would fatigue me and that I'd get exhausted from my stories. So far, the opposite has been true. I'm pumped to get to write every single day It's the thing I love, so making it a focus every day has been so energizing.

That's it for now. Til next week, my writerly wizards!

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