Pantser (n) someone who writes by making things up as they go along (or flying by the seat of their pants)
1. It takes the pressure off
I’m writing a sequel at the moment. Which basically means, I’m filled with ‘second album syndrome’ fear, and piling the pressure on myself. Or, I was. Then I signed up for NaNoWriMo and swapped screen fright for scribbling.
National Novel Writing Month was made for pantsers – how else can you scramble your way to 50,000 words in a month? It’s a glorious, community-driven, slightly sleep-depriving way to write. But it’s also bags of fun. By Tuesday night, when I finally crossed the finish line, I had loads more words than I needed (my sequel won’t be more than 30,000). I was also bursting with ideas for the next draft.
2. It gives your brain room to roam
That’s the joy of pantsing. When you’re not following a carefully plotted plan, there’s nothing stopping you taking your story in any direction you like. I started November with a vague idea of what might happen. But almost all my favourite scenes now are things I’d never even considered a month ago. When I’m going for quantity, not quality, I can pull all sorts of weird (and hopefully wonderful) ideas from the depths of my brain.
Pantising is taking the scenic route rather than powering down a motorway. It’s not the fastest way through a book, but the view’s so much better.
3. It gives you something to edit
Nothing beats fear of the blank page like a quick and dirty first draft. The sooner you get some words down, the sooner you can knock them into shape.
A month of pantsing has been absolutely brilliant. Now I’m (just about) ready for the proper plotting begin.