The Pantser's Guide To Writing A Novel (With Doctor Who Gifs)

7:00 AM





In case you somehow didn't know by now, I am a pantser through-and-through. My writing method is 'just make it up as you go and edit the incoherent mess way later.' This does cause problems sometimes, but hey, it's a lot of fun. And super easy!

Because I'm nice like that and I can, I've decided to give you plotters (even though I don't understand you) a guide to the ins and outs of writing the first draft of a novel as a hardcore panster. Who knows, maybe you can try the method yourself. (Wouldn't recommend it, but hey, sometimes NaNo is pressing.)

Allow me to present:

The Pantser's Guide To Writing A Novel 
by Aimee Meester, professional pantser
(Complete with Doctor Who gifs) 

Step One: Idea 

You have an idea. It's an AWESOME idea. You must write the thing immediately.
Don't think. Don't plot. Start your Pinterest board immediately, open up that Word document, and get to work as soon as possible with the first beginning that comes to mind. 


Step Two: THE BEGINNING. 

The actual beginning; the first few chapters. You have literally no idea what you're doing here. You're running on a caffeine rush and a new-writerly-idea high. And it. Is. Awesome. 
Cling onto that feeling. You will definitely need it later. 


Step Three: That Thing That Needs To Happen But You Don't Know What It Is And This Is Getting Hard 

This is inevitable in pantsing, and all a part of the process, so don't panic too much when it happens. Sooner or later, you will come across that spot where it's too early for any of your many ideas and too late to drag out the beginning more, and you need more stuff but you're literally winging this as you go so WHAT. 
Breathe. Take a cookie/pie break. 
Type some nonsense. 


Step Four: Everything Sucks 

You're maybe a third of the way into the novel. Suddenly, the high is wearing off. This is NOT the same novel you were so excited about. In fact, it's kind of boring. You want to edit. 
Don't give up. 
Don't edit. 
Take another cookie break and go back to making things up. 

STOP SUCKING. 
Step Five: PLOT TWIST THAT YOU DID NOT ANTICIPATE 

All of a sudden, something comes along and whacks you in the face. Like, WHAT. You did not know this about this character. You did not know this would happen. Stuff is really going down and you're slowly losing control of whatever you had control of before. 
Roll with it. 


Bonus Step: Ranting To Family/Friends 

Because this is ridiculous and somewhat depressing and ultimately a rush and let's face it, no one else is going to understand. Rant anyway.


Step Six: That Middle Bit 

All your ideas come after this awkward middle part that no one seems to plan for. You'll be stuck here forever and it will drag and drag and drag and ughhhhhh. 
Now is the appropriate time to wrap yourself up in blankets and become a burrito of despair, and/or binge watch a new TV show and procrastinate because obviously that will help. 


Step Seven: That Scene You've Been Waiting To Write Forever And Now You Can And It Is Glorious 

There's really nothing quite like the feeling of writing these scenes. 

Step Eight: What Even Are Words 

As far away from the novel as possible because how do you even finish the thing. 

Step Nine: DESPAIR

Also inevitable. You're close to the end, but you've also been writing this thing forever. And now you can see how much it sucks, and maybe you shouldn't keep going -- 
Keep going. Always keep going. 
Make up allll the things. 


Step Ten: The Mad Rush To The End 

You're almost there. ALMOST. THERE. You spend three days huddled over your laptop, consuming nothing but coffee/tea and whatever cookies or candy is within reach so you don't have to get up. Your typing has become frantic. Sleep is a thing of the past. 

But who cares about sleep when people are dying? 

Step Eleven: THE END OH YES 

Because you're FINISHED and the whole thing is a mess of incoherent late-night words and feels and tears and coffee stains but who even cares because you're done
Be proud of yourself. 
You deserve it. 


And finally, the most important step... 

Step Twelve: The Delicious Reward 

Cake or pie or cookies or ice cream or chocolate or whatever else you want to reward yourself with, because hey, you'll never have full use of your brain or your fingers ever again. 


Are you a plotter, a pantser, or something in-between? 

40 comments

  1. I'm a hardcore pantser (and a hardcore Whovian!) and this guide is the most accurate thing ever. You just summed up my entire writing routine. (Which is just slightly depressing.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huzzah! It's my routine too, of course, so I feel ya. :P

      Delete
  2. ...Yeah, that's pretty much it.

    You captured exactly where the hyperventilating/freaking out moments were. So thank you.

    I started my current WIP not that long ago so I'm currently at Step 3, where I'm like, "Oh, shoot. I have no idea where this is going." But it will all be okay. I'm just writing. I don't know what I'm writing. But I'm writing, which apparently counts as progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, can't forget the hyperventilating/freaking out moments. Those are the most common, unfortunately. *sideways glare*
      Hahaha, that's a good way to look at it! Pantsing is definitely good for getting those words out.

      Delete
  3. Whooooo! Loved this post. I am very much a pantser, and I can collaborate that this whole post is 100% accurate. Reading it brought on flashbacks of November NaNoWriMo... XD And I love that you did it in Doctor Who gifs, because what is more perfect than Doctor Who to illustrate the emotional rollercoaster that goes on during pantsing?
    Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, NaNoWriMo. How we hate/love/obsess over it.

      Delete
  4. Hooray! I am usually not a panster writer, but I must admit you make it look like quite the adventure. I am just starting to plan a new MYSTERY novel and I anticipate experiencing many of these stages : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck! Mysteries are fun to write, if frustrating sometimes. Especially when you try to pants them.

      Which I totally did not do, noooo.

      Delete
  5. Oh my gosh I love this so much I think it's the truest thing I've ever read in a blog post. Seriously tho :D
    -JH

    ReplyDelete
  6. THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING. THIS IS SO ACCURATE I CAN'T X'D I am a shameless pantser and this is exactly my process and I love this. You put it to words (And the Doctor Who gifs. Yas. Thank you for that) and it's amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *fistbump* Pantsing for the win, really. It's a lot of fun, even when we hate it. Which is probably often.

      Delete
  7. I am definitely a pantser, and this kind of explains my life right now. I still haven't finished a novel yet, but I'm in the process of one right now and I'm at step threeish/fourish. Yeah. Not a good place to be, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Just my story is really booooooring right now!!! Okay, done ranting to you about my incompetence as a writer. XD And did I mention? This post is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go you! You've got this :D I know the boring feel, but you've got to push through -- you'll get it, and it'll be awesome. *hands motivational chocolate*

      Delete
  8. XD So true it's painful. I'm honestly a little bit in the in-between segment of the plotter/pantser, but I still know this idea of getting to the plot can be exciting and hard. Of course, afterwards comes editing... yeyyy :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't speak to me of editing. I'm working through all that right now and it makes me want to tear my hair out. :P

      Delete
  9. This is so incredibly awesome :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is probably the most accurate guide (and the only guide) I've ever read. Except I'm not a Whovian nor a coffee person xD *runs*
    But literally, the unexpected plot twist is the part that resonates with me, because my latest pantsed novel had that happen and i was utterly confused. But yes, I'm a hardcore pantser, who's given up on writing novels for the time being because pantster highs have just sucked the life out of her ;-; #mynovelwillforeverbeonchapterseven

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair enough (even though you totally should watch Doctor Who because it is awesome). Unexpected plot twists /always/ pop up and it's really rude because it throws you off balance. *sigh*

      Delete
  11. I didn't know the term before, but I now know that I too am a professional pantser. I do outline sometimes, and that generally makes for less tears, but also less fun. Pantser-ing is the way to go! XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *high fives* Greetings, fellow pantser! xD

      Delete
  12. I . . . couldn't work like that. XD That middle bit? That's where I'd just give up on the project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha, I really do enjoy the rush. But to each her own I guess. *looks at plotters with suspicion*

      Delete
  13. "because you'll never have full use of your brain or your fingers again' XD True that!

    I love this post! It's hilariously true.

    I forever get stuck during that part when I can't do anything more in the beginning, but I can't get to the good scenes yet, because the time isn't right. But what comes next?! I could be there forever, just writing drivel.

    Although I have a general plan what the framework of the book will look like, I pants mostly. And often times things get turned around while I write and I kind of just go with it. I kind of a skeleton of the story in mind, and I pants to flesh it out. . . Does that sound weird?

    But when I have time, perhaps I'll try full out pantsing a book. Just for the fun of it. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha, full-out pantsing is dangerous and makes for tricky editing later, so I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but I can't really stop myself, either. It's just how I work because I like torturing my editing mode. xD

      Delete
  14. The accurateness of this post, bless you and with Doctor Who too. This post made me so happy, I am definitely a pantster

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Doctor Who was absolutely necessary for this post.

      Delete
  15. Honestly I think I'm somewhere in between... I tend to write whatever the heck is in my brain at the moment and see if it'll go anywhere-- I've written the majority of my story so far out of order. Which is nice because I can write that scene depicted by the fabulous GIF in #7. BUT I also outline and write ridiculous amounts of notes and lay awake at night thinking WHAT IS THIS THING HOW DO I EVEN PROCEED WHAT SHOULD EVEN BE HAPPENING. It's a mess. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, writing out of order is a little much for me. I've never been able to do it, but hey, it works for some people so I'm not gonna bash it. :P

      Delete
  16. I tried pantsing my first novel and...um, it did not go well. My first draft ended up in a complete mess and I had no idea what I was doing. However, for my rewrite, I became a plotter and the writing came much easier for me. I guess my writer brain just works better that way! Still, it's interesting to see the process of a pantser. I would say that it's pretty similar to the process of a plotter in that we, too, go through agony and excitement and food all at the same times as plotters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeeeaaahhhh, messy first drafts are one of the huge downsides. I kind of hate rewriting. But oh well. xD

      Delete
  17. Oh, woah. I had no idea how much if a pantser I was until I read this post. O.O Spot on, which is slightly distressing. ;)

    DOCTOR WHO GIFS WILL ALWAYS BE COOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ALLLL THE DOCTOR WHO GIFS. AND ALL THE PANTSING.

      Delete
  18. This is Fantastic! (You heard Nine saying that, didn't you?), and so accurate.
    I yo-yo between utter pantsing and outlining, but this is the way that most of my books happen anyway.
    Each gif is perfect, by the way. Doctor Who is the only thing that I like almost as much as books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *alll the Nine quotes*
      Haha, I've never tried plotting before...I think that would be weird for me o.o

      Delete
  19. THIS WAS BASICALLY GLORIOUS. Even though I am a sad shameful nerd and haven't seen any Doctor Who EVER. *sentences self to the cone of shame* BUT I WILL ONE DAY. I JUST HAVE SO MANY BOOKS TO READ SEE. Oh oh but I am a very serious outliner. I once wrote a 10,000-word outline. I know. It was crazy. 0_0 BUT I HAVE PANSTERED BEFORE. I wrote 3 books panstering actually, because I was determined to try all the methods. Each one I wrote a little less about what the book was going to be about, and then a little lesssss, and then the 3rd book had ZERO PRE-THOUGHTS, NOT EVEN A PINTEREST, I JUST WROTE IT. It was awful. ahhaaha. So yes, I'm an outliner, but I avidly believe in NEVER editing during a first draft. xD
    So much win for this post! :D

    ReplyDelete
  20. Haha love all of the Doctor Who gifs--especially the Tenth Doctor ones. ^ ^ I'm between. I'm a hybrid of a plotter and panster. XD

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. *Squeals* because gifs and pantsing and the Doctor's face at the end.

    I'm a pantser. And a Whovian(in case you couldn't tell). Basically, I'm sobbing right now because I just finished rewatching Journey's End and DONNA. D:

    ReplyDelete

hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.