Writing is Hard Part 2: Pantsing is a Myth


Part 2 of a 4-part series about my writing process and learnings. The first part was about going on a hiatus. This second part is about my discovery that I am not a “pantser” whatsoever.

I learned that much of my self-loathing when it comes to my work was how little planning when into it. The amount of retconning was actually killing my esteem when it came to my work. Why can’t I get a single scene right? Why is nothing in the right order? Am I renaming a character again? It was a nightmare. Hopefully, that has changed.


Ideas need to live in my head for years until I even entertain getting a notebook for them. The story about thieves germinated at around the same time I finished the first true version of my first completed project three years ago (Side note: I’m so glad that I renamed my main character in that phase and not once I started writing it).

In a way, the planning and outlining was an ongoing process, even if it didn’t take to the page until much later. Three years ago, I created my core trio, their intro, and their ending. The rest of the work came with connecting points A and B, with all the little pit stops in between.

A quote I’ve seen floating around is that writing doesn’t happen at the keyboard, but all the other times (Thanks, V.E. Schwab). The keyboard is for typing. Ideas don’t necessarily come at the keyboard. In my previous process, I’d be in front of a screen, trying to bring a story to life and it was slow. It hurt. I attributed this sluggishness to be a slow typist, so I got some practice there to up my typing speed.

Totally irrelevant.

It turned out, I simply hadn’t thought about the book enough. For thieves, I got a new notebook and began jotting down notes for what became my story about queer twins trying to save their city.

The To-Do List

I started a bullet journal a while ago for my personal life because the meditation and crafting aspect of it resonated with me in ways I didn’t realize. It was nice to sit down and organize and, in a weird way, take pride in my life.

The next thing that shaped my new methodology was the book version of Rachel Aron’s “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.”

It changed so much in terms of how I write, tell stories, and get words down.

I pored over the notes I had made in that little notebook and began to form a semblance of an outline. Having a synopsis was helpful, but I needed more structure. So then, I decided to switch over to the to-do lists I had mastered in my bullet journal.

Now, every scene is a checkbox under a heading for each POV within each chapter. If I get stuck, I simply go to the next page and start wondering what I had missed and how to fix it.

This entire method is the antithesis of pantsing. But I feel prepared and like I know my characters and their journey. I feel like I can actually get a book done and maybe not have to go through as many rewrites and entire overhauls.


Part 3 is coming in December and that’s going to be about graduate school and writing.

Part 4 comes after I’ve seen feedback about thieves project from my beta readers.

Until next time,

2 thoughts on “Writing is Hard Part 2: Pantsing is a Myth

  1. Pingback: I Didn’t Hate It #10 | Jo Writes Fantasy

  2. Pingback: Writing is Hard Part 3: Graduate School | Jo Writes Fantasy

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