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Writing 101: Are you a Planner or a Pantser?

So you want to write a book, huh? I'm sure you've heard about a thousand different ideas about how to do it, whether on Pinterest or Google or even Booktok. But the real question is, which way is the right way?

The short answer? There is no right way. No two authors have an identical process, and it can take multiple books and many years to figure out what works best for you. Let me use myself as a quick example.

When I first started writing, I began a new story solely on vibes. AKA, I would create characters, dump them in a setting, choose an ending, and just start writing. And it worked...or so I thought. I would get about five chapters in before giving up completely. The problem was that I knew how the book was going to end, but I had absolutely no idea how to get there.

So I decided to try something different. When I came up with the idea for An Absolute Bloody Disaster, I made an extremely-detailed outline. It laid out what would happen in each chapter, including everything from character development to foreshadowing to the time of day and the weather. And that worked so much better...or so I thought. It would take me only a few chapters before everything started to change, and I would get frustrated that I wasn't following my perfect, well-thought-out outline.

Now? I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly how I write, but I found something that works for me. And I love it.

So, as you begin your story, take a few minutes to analyze how your brain processes information. This can help you sift through the thousands of writing tips out there and tailor a process that works best for you! Let me help you get started with the basics.

Are you a PLANNER?

This one is pretty self-explanatory. A PLANNER is someone who creates an outline (or something similar) and has an idea for how each scene plays out, and when. Planners may write in chronological order, or they may write big scenes first, then connect them with planned filler scenes later. Either way, they have a clear picture of their ending and exactly how they're going to get there.

Are you a PANTSER?

I know what you're thinking: what on earth is a pantser? Yeah, you're not alone. The first time I saw this term I was very confused. A PANTSER is someone who works without an outline, also known as "flying by the seat of their pants." Pantsers may know where the story is going, but they let the story and characters figure out how to get there as they go. Similar to planners, a pantser may write chronologically, letting the story unfold in front of them, or write a bunch of unrelated scenes and find ways to connect them after the fact. Pantsers work with vibes and let the feeling of the story carry them forward.

Or are you a little bit of both?

A PLANTSER, if you will. Most people, I've found, fall into this category, myself included. It takes a little bit of outlining, a little bit of vibing, and a whole lot of rewriting. Plantsers use some combination of planning and pantsing to find their perfect middle ground.

All this to say, as long as you're writing, you're doing it right. All you can do is keep going, keep trying, and let your process fall into place. The number of differing opinions on the internet can be overwhelming, but don't let that discourage you. You are unique. Your process is unique. And regardless of how you get there, you deserve to share you story with the world.

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