When I started writing my own stories, I struggled with finding the right process for me. I was looking for one that would inspire me to keep writing and also keep me productive, but I had a hard time finding it.
At first, I just started writing whenever I had a vague idea and I’d see where the story took me. The problem was that I would always end up stuck somewhere in my own story without being able to get myself, or the characters, out. That would always lead to me abandoning a story altogether to find a new idea.
When this happened time and time again, I tried planning my stories meticulously with charts and tables. That way I figured I’d know where I was going with the story and I’d never get stuck. The only problem with this for me was that writing out the entire story in charts took away the joy and surprise of writing the prose. So while this process kept me productive, it also left me uninspired.
Clearly neither worked for me. So now what? I was still so desperate to write, but had no idea what process to use and so how to finish a story while still enjoying myself! Writing turned out to be a rather frustrating affair for me at that point.
That’s when I decided to go online to see how other writers were writing. I found that everyone had a process that worked specifically for them. Some loved to freewrite, others prefered to plan.
But the most important thing I learned from reading so much about fiction writing is that when you want to become serious about writing you do need to figure out which of these processes works for you. Because once you do, you’ll notice writing itself will become easier and more enjoyable. It’ll keep you both productive and inspired!
From writing more and in different ways, I found that a combination of the two main processes works best for me.
Clearly I am not a pantser (freewriting, as in writing by ‘the seat of your pants’) or a plotter (as you can guess it means plotting out your story before you start writing). I found that I like to plot a little, so I know where I am going while also giving me a guide to move forward when I get stuck. Yet at the same time I also do like to see where my writing leads me in the moment by way of freewriting. Therefore, my current plot outlines are minor and short which means that as I write I can adjust the plot and characters’ voices as I go. This does often involve more edits, particularly of the beginning when I might not have been as sure about my plot and characters yet, but thankfully I quite enjoy editing!
If you currently struggle with the conundrum of how to go about the writing process, there is a short exercise that might help you on your way.
Firstly, if you have an idea about a story (whether fanfic or original in whatever genre and it can be as small as ‘girl rides horse’), open an empty Word or Notes document or turn a new page in your journal. What happens to you right now? Do you instantly set your pen to paper or your fingers to typing and start writing or do you first stare off into the middle distance, thinking of how the story would continue and first taking that journey in your mind before you turn back to your paper or screen?
The way you respond to any plot idea can be an indication of how you work best as a writer. It’s a first step to finding the process that will make your writing sessions so much easier and more enjoyable! But try and try again after that! Only that way will you find out what writing process truly suits you best.
Let me know in the comments which you prefer! Are you a pantser or a plotter? Or are you like me a combination of the two? I’d love to hear from you!