Why I Will Always be a Pantser

In the writing world there is a commonly discussed divide among writers. There are “pantsers” and “plotters.”


Pantsers and plotters are both valid writers with valid processes and valid struggles. Some people will forever argue that one is better than the other, that plotters are too rigid and pantsers are too free flowing, but both get beautiful end results with large amounts of hard work.

I am a Pantser. A proud Pantser at that. Nothing helps me discover a story better than sitting down and typing out a scene where someone feels something. That’s all a story really is, a character feeling something about a circumstance or person, the whys, the how, the struggles entailed. That’s all a story is. For me, it’s much easier to just start playing with characters and put them in situations to develop them. That’s what a Pantser does.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t plot or plan. In one of her YouTube videos, author Rachael Stephen brought up the idea of “invisible work.” I think that’s very relevant for my process as a Pantser. I write and throw random thoughts and ideas and scenes onto paper or onto the computer screen, but I’m plotting and planning in my mind. Most of the work done is invisible. Why write it down if I’m the only one who needs to see it? Ask me any question, literally any question, and I can answer it. I’ve done the work, just internally.

It’s my process.

However, throughout my courseworks, I’ve started dipping my toe into the plotting (in the traditional sense) pool. I’m writing down what my characters want and what they look like, and I’m finding it extremely useful! It’s nice to not have to piece through the previous manuscript to figure out what color eyes that one girl has. I’ve also played around with outlining the major plot points I don’t want to miss. It’s helped me remember to include subtext and subplots. I’m having so much fun with it, even if it’s very hard and goes against my Pantser nature.

Here’s the catch though, when I get stuck I sit down and type it out just to see where it goes. Getting into the minds of my characters by writing them is the only way I can decide what they’re going to do! I will forever be a Pantser with some plotter habits.

What about you? Pantser or Plotter or Hybrid?

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