Pantsing A Novel: my authetic, deadly journey on my first book

Hello everyone!!

So, guess what????

I wrote a book.

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And I was expecting this big feeling of elation but….. it didn’t come. Granted it could have been down to many things that were occurring at the time. But, still, it was my first book and all I could think about was how much more work I had to do. I didn’t feel a sense of completion because the only thing I felt was incomplete.

Buuttt…. I am determined that this is going to be a happy post because even though I didn’t jump for joy afterwards, I loved my journey with this book.

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HOW IT STARTED?

This book was very unexpected because it was not the one I was planning on writing. It was a brand-new book and the idea just came to me when I was doing a small piece of experimental writing but I thought this could be more.

And then it was.

This is a YA contemporary so quite a change from my adult fantasy. But I once read this advice that you should write a contemporary before a fantasy book because it allows you to focus on building relationships. Obviously, this isn’t necessary as there are a lot of paths to success but I liked it and I, surprisingly, had an idea to run with.

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Another surprise was that I pantsed this book. I considered myself more of a planner but, nope, I just dived straight into it with this book so let’s talk about this experience.


 

Firstly, I’m going to acknowledge this straight away…. 

THE DOUBTS

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The amount of times I switched between ‘this is so bad’ to ‘this feels like it could be spectacular’ was insane. Like I could do it 5 times an hour. It was so exhausting. It makes you have real highs and lows when writing. I hate those low moments because you don’t want to write and in turn that makes me not want to do anything.

So how do you survive this???

*cries* I don’t know *cries more*

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Well talk about it. Remember all the advice you’ve heard about first drafts being rough and all the great writers went through the same thing. The thing that you love on your shelf probably (and by that, I mean definitely) was a pile of crap to the author at one point. Knowing it is a universal experience really does change the game.

Keep writing. Write something you are excited about to reignite your love so the words can come again. The cycle of doom is horrible, but you’ve got to keep going because it isn’t going to write itself.

Pinterest and Spotify. Excellent tools of distraction but also slightly productive. You create an aesthetic board and then you feel excited. You create a playlist and you feel elated. These are good tools for when you need a break from writing whilst also learning more about what you want from this book and it will inspire you. The saying goes that sometimes not writing is the best thing you can do for your writing and I support this (and no, not just because I’m lazy).

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INTERLUDE PART 1

Things I did when writing this book: (apart from dying)

  • Write random quotes down at 3am
  • Stared at my laptop, not writing for a good hour
  • Only wrote 50 words some days
  • Wrote 4,000 words some days
  • Fell in love with my characters
  • Felt like my character were flat
  • Fell in love with them again
  • Whilst reading, I began to analyse sentences to see what “proper sentences” are like

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So, like I’ve mentioned, I pantsed this book.

PANTSING [noun]

What I first thought it meant:  pulling down someone’s pants

My definition:  words appear that surprise even the write every day. It can be both chaotic and productive

The real definition: “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything, or plan very little.”

 

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Actual footage of me writing. Actually, just footage of me full stop.

 

For me, this is what this looked like:


1. I had an idea that I could write a book on sister’s and their relationship

2. I had a notebook where I wrote down snippets, quotes and just a load of random thoughts

3. I wrote about 10 words for every chapter and this included major changes from my initial idea

4. I planned location moderately

5. Character planning. I wrote 3 sentences for my 4 main characters

6. I started writing in chronological order using a mix of laptop and handwriting

7. My plot evolved pass my initial chapter planning as new things were included and things were changed. In my head I always had an idea where I wanted it to go and I developed things loosely but didn’t write it down. Plus, it changed a lot continually so I didn’t see the point.

8. Finished writing my book in 3 months

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WHAT FELT GOOD ABOUT THIS PROCESS:

  • Words were written which eventually made a book. I had never done this so yay.
  • It was all in my head and all my excitement was going straight into my writing. This really helped as doing a lengthy plan would have meant all my excitement went into the plan then when writing nothing new would have happened so I might have gotten bored and loss momentum otherwise.
  • I liked being able to continually add ideas to my story without planning around every new thing and every day I could have an exciting break-through. 
  • It let me focus solely on the writing straight away, which is the aspect I love the most.

 

STRUGGLES I FACED WHEN WRITING:

  • I sat down to write and I didn’t know what the purpose of this chapter was and I had little idea where to start or where to go.
  • I am pretty sure I have picked up and dropped a plot theme sporadically
  • My characters and plot felt underdeveloped and maybe it could have been due to my lack of planning or maybe it’s something else
  • I have no idea what the pacing is like

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OVERALL

So, it is a mixed bag really and I’m pretty sure that would be the same with every first draft. I have nothing to compare it with yet but, I feel like that statement would be true because first drafts are hard. 

It is weird because in some ways it feels like no-one in the history of writing has ever wrote a draft as shitty as this one. But, at times I loved quotes I’ve came up and the journeys my characters went on. Plus, the overall message of this book means a lot to me and it is very personal book so I love it.

I think people call this writing.

One thing I haven’t mentioned that massively helped with writing was setting goals for words. If I didn’t push myself by saying I wanted 40K at the end of this month or to finish it this month, I am 100% sure I wouldn’t have finished it. Setting goals and holding yourself accountable is so important. It doesn’t have to be a high number but you need a goal and a deadline. 

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Going forward…..

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I will revisit my story as I do have a lot I want to work on (I also have another project I want to focus on). Things like this will happen:

  • I need to strength my conflict part and make it heavier and more impactful
  • I need to include the mother more as she just pops in and out which isn’t what I want
  • Fill out segments which is just heavy dialogue
  • Strength romantic relationships (add lots of small detail)
  • Add the random quotes I have lying around which I love but forgot to include
  • Bring themes all together
  • Make individual voices more distinct
  • Add more hope

So this is all vague but I just need to strengthens parts and connect everything together which is a big task but I feel like I can make some great progress on my own in that area.

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INTERLUDE PART 2

More things I did whilst writing:

  • Felt like I could write whilst watching TV too many times (put the remote down)
  • Had thousands of mini meltdowns
  • Thrown my laptop in frustration onto the sofa
  • Apologised to my laptop
  • Spelt thousands of words wrong
  • Had a mini-party at every 10,000 words
  • Realised I have no idea what my characters surnames are
  • Fell in love with some of my quotes
  • Loved this book
  • Hated this book
  • Repeated
  • Stress ate
  • Sang loudly to music
  • Asked my dog for help unproductively
  • Loved this book
  • Hated this book
  • Repeated
  • Actually felt proud of myself
  • The End.

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So, that’s everything. It was hard. It was riddled with self-doubt and running out of time. But I wrote a book. Yee-friggin’-haw.

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Have you wrote a draft? What was writing your first book like? Could you relate to any of my experience?

Are you a planner or a pantser?

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38 thoughts on “Pantsing A Novel: my authetic, deadly journey on my first book

  1. First of all, your use of gifs in this post is spot on :’) Second: YAY! I hope you eventually get that feeling of elation that you were hoping for.

    – I loved reading about your writing experience – especially your struggles, because it is relaxing to know someone else deals with similar issues.
    – Your advice about having a goal and a deadline is so important too. It’s so easy to put things to the side when you don’t *have* to get them done right away.
    – I love the interludes too :’)
    – Very excited to see where this goes!

    I’ve never finished writing a first draft. I completed NaNoWriMo once a couple years ago, but I never went back to finish the story. It is just so overwhelming to me, to look at something that is so, so rough. The self-doubt is just insane, lol. I think I need to just try writing some short stories first – I was being too ambitious, lol.
    As for the planner of pantser question – I just don’t know yet :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you, I loved using them!! Thank you so much, I am probably just focusing on all that is left to do but I still feel happy underneath it all 😂

      Yay I’m glad you enjoyed reading it, it was actually fun to write all my thoughts up. Yes it has helped me so much to hear other people dealing with their doubts so I definitely wanted to talk about them. It is definitely comforting as it can feel like you are alone in your doubts, when your really aren’t 🙂
      I agree I did that all the time, I never did it because I never had to so holding myself accountable has been so helpful!!
      Haha thank you!!
      And thank you again, I’m excited and nervous too!!

      Yeah in the past I never wrote a first draft I was just close or always halfway through!! NaNoWriMo is very intense!! And first drafts are rough so it can feel disheartening but you just need to keeping working (or so I have been told haha)
      Short stories are a great way to build up practise and confidence, that’s a great idea!!
      It is a hard question and I think everyone has a bit of both in them to be fair!! haha!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. UM. WHAT.

    SOPHIE WROTE A BOOK. A YA CONTEMPORARY. ABOUT SISTER RELATIONSHIPS.

    😭😭😭😭 WHEN CAN I HAVE THIS????? It sounds honestly amazing and getting this post notification was such a pleasant surprise!!! Not to mention that your entire writing process is such a mood, hehe. 😉 I’m really happy and proud for you, I just know this is going to be a masterpiece!

    I loved reading this!!!! Good luck revising and editing, you’ve totally got this!! (also, if you ever need alpha/beta readers sometime in the future… *wink*) ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I DID AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!

      AHH… your enthusiasm means so much, I can not even tell you!! *cries from happiness* thank you, thank you Ash!!
      Haha I’m glad it could be relatable, it was certainly a crazy, conflicting experience haha!!
      Again thank you soooooo much!! You are literally the sweetest!! 💛 *continues to cry*

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it !! Thank you so much (ahh.. thank you, I’ll remember that, that would be amazing) 💛💛💛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your blogging voice and use of gifs is as fun as always, Sophie!! And I’m so happy that you finished a book!! That’s so amazing, and even though you don’t feel that proud of yourself, I’m super proud of you, so don’t worry 😉
    It’s definitely normal to feel like everything you’re writing is trash and first drafts ARE supposed to be trashy! I hope you never forget that, because even though that may be true, you can always revise your work ❤ ❤ I really can't wait to see where this project of yours goes! And it's so cool that you've written a contemporary even though you were originally writing an adult fantasy :0
    Anyways, this comment is just a mess! overall, I'm just proud of you for finishing a first draft, and for pantsing a novel—wow! Happy writing <33

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah… thank you so much Caitlin (that really means a lot) 💛💛
      Yay!! Thank you, I can’t believe it! Ah.. thank you, you’re too kind to me!! *blushes*
      Yeah, I hear people talking about how hard and rubbish first drafts are but it hits even harder when you are writing your own, haha. This is really comforting to hear and a great help so thank you 💛 And it is true as revising is where the book comes into itself.

      Thank you, I’m excited to see where it will goes as well (and nervous haha). It was certainly a change, the worldbuilding started to scare me so I ran to a contemporary as I was really enjoying reading them at the time as well.

      This comment is literally PERFECT and I appreciate it all and you so much!! Thank you Caitlin 💛💛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. CONGRATS ON FINISHING!!! That is such a huge accomplishment and I’m so proud of you, especially in pushing through all that self doubt and uncertainty to create something brand new and amazing 😀 I definitely know the feeling of going up and down on how you feel about your writing, and…”in some ways it feels like no-one in the history of writing has ever wrote a draft as shitty as this one” – whew, I know that feeling! If it’s any consolation, we surely BOTH couldn’t have written the shittiest novels in history, so they can’t be that bad 😉

    Anyway, I’m really amazed with what you’ve done and I’m glad to hear of your success! Best of luck in moving on to the next step! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! This means so much!! thank you!! 💛💛 Self doubt is definitely a big thing when writing but your have got to push through and focus on the enjoyment, but there are certainly days where it is hard than other days.
      I’m glad I’m not alone in that feeling!! haha I love that and it does make me feel much better that the feeling is universal and I can’t argue your logic there haha 😂😂

      Thank you so much for all your support and kind words, it means a lot!! 💛 💛

      Like

  5. I loved this post!
    I’ve never even attempted to write a book (unless we count stories when I was a kid 😅) so WELL DONE!! 🎉
    Hopefully you’ll let us read it when you’ve redrafted it? Maybe? Possibly? 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much El!!
      I would definitely count stories as a kid, those are always the best haha!! But I had never managed to finished writing a novel until this so it took me a while!! Thank you though!! ❤
      Hahah maybe, I will have to get over my fear of sharing my writing first but it could happen haha!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was such a great post! Thank you for sharing 🙂
    I’m a planner and I love it, mostly because I’m terrified of pantsing and having no idea what to do. However, I never really finished a draft, mostly because life happens and I get side-tracked. It’s definitely a goal to accomplish this year though.
    Congrats on getting your first draft done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much and you’re welcome, thank you for reading!! 🙂
      Planning is useful and I definitely have planned a lot with my other project but with this one I could visualise the journey I wanted and it had a small cast so pantsing worked really well for me this time.
      I understand that, I never finished writing a novel because of the same reasons!! Best of luck with your writing, you can do this!
      Thank you so much!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I LOVED READING THIS!! And if you want a beta… I’d love to read it and help you out (or just to read it hehe less work <3). BUT LIKE SERIOUSLY. All of the points you make are so good!! Especially: "Pantsing- What I first thought it meant: pulling down someone’s pants" BECAUSE I THOUGHT THE SAME THING 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! ❤ And ahh… thank you, that would be amazing, I don't when I would be ready for that but all your support means so much and I won't forget it!! ❤
      Yay thank you haha!! Yes it is definitely the pulling down pants as well 😉 IT HAS TO BE!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations, Sophie! *dances and throws chocolate* I’m the complete opposite, haha! I spend literally forever plotting but once it’s plotted, look out. I’m writing up a storm! 😆 I hope you have an amazing time editing + revising! And CONGRATS AGAIN that’s literally INSANE I’m so proud of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! *dances and eats chocolate* !! On my fantasy book I do spend a lot of time planning but for this one I knew the journey I wanted and I just felt ready to write. I’m not saying contemporary requires less planning for everyone, it is just the way it worked for me!! But I LOVE hearing about your process and I’m glad plotting works so well for you!!
      Thank you, I hope it goes okay!! haha!!
      Thank you so much, all your support means so much!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay, I’m new here (hello!) and oh my gosh congratulations! I can’t believe you finished your first draft in only three months. I definitely started out as a pantser, but I’ve been gradually turning over to planning, and writing my first book was definitely a series of highs and lows. Can’t wait to hear more 🙂
    (P.S. I love the idea of having interludes in blog posts!)

    –Germaine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello!! Thank you so much for stopping by!! 🙂
      Ah… thank you so much!! It is quite a small book, only 50K and it might increase whilst editing but I kind of can’t believe it either!!
      Ohh.. interesting, best of both worlds. I think it will depend on what project I’m doing whether I will plan or pants really!!
      Yeah a series of highs and lows is a good way to describe writing haha!!
      Thank you!! (and yes I might do it in more posts haha) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. AH CONGRATULATIONS! This is so amazing and I’m so impressed you finished writing it in three months, this is AMAZING. also how the heck did you write 4000 words a day sometime, I do not know, teach me your secrets please? ahah. I’m so happy and so proud of you and wish you all the very best in your upcoming editing journey. You can do this! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH Marie!! All your support means so much!! ❤ I was quite surprised, setting goals really helped me and it quite a short book compared to some I feel. Haha it was just one of those days when I spent the whole day dedicated to writing and I knew where I wanted to finish so the words were flying but it was a one-off, days with 500 words were much more common!!
      Thank you so, so much!! This means a lot and I wish you the best with all your writing as well!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m just so so happy and proud and ahh you wrote a book!! I can’t wait to hear more about your writing adventures and wish you all the luck for what’s next. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Omg yay that’s amazing that you wrote a book and in such a short amount of time too!! I’m sure it’s so much better than you think it is; everybody doubts what they’ve written afterwards (and I just constantly convince myself that I can’t even start :L). Also this ‘Asked my dog for help unproductively’ and this ‘What I first thought it meant: pulling down someone’s pants’ are just hilarious!! I absolutely adore this post!! You have such a wonderful writing style and I love the way that you’ve set it out and just everything. It’s incredible.
    I agree that keep writing is definitely an important part of the process; even if you go and write something completely unrelated to try and get your inspiration flowing again it’s better than simply abandoning writing altogether as that just leads to writers block I think. Although you do have to give yourself breaks too.
    I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job of working in all of the edits that you’ve mentioned and polishing up what you feel needs editing a little. I still believe that it’s probably better than you feel though. And I love that you just randomly got an idea and went with it; sometimes that can be the best way to go about writing as you’re working on it there and then whilst your inspiration is at it’s highest. I think that’s one of the things I struggle with – I don’t know how to plan so my enthusiasm comes, goes and fizzles out. Plus I really want to do some retelling based stories but think I need to read more first to see what has and hasn’t been done to try and make mine more original. Plus for the inspiration. And I should read the originals because I never have… or well technically I guess I must have. I used to have a collection of Disney books (I don’t know how to describe them, they’re very thin and you tend to see them all the time in charity shops? I’m not even sure if you collected them through a cereal book or something :L).
    Anyway gtood luck with all of you revisions. I’m sure you can do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aw… thank you so much Charlotte !! ❤ I was quite surprised in the space I wrote it but it is quite short really !! aw.. true everyone does doubt themselves and after all this is just the first step. Starting is really one of the hardest step so I understand but I'm sure you would be great and it is all about the experience of writing!!
      hahaa thank you, I literally would ask my dog for help after screaming at my laptop!! I know, it is the same word so…. haha !! Aw… thank you, I'm so glad you liked this post !! And I'm just going to cry now 😭💞😭💞 thank you so much, you're too kind and it means so much. Thank you, thank you !!
      Yes it can be really easy to not get yourself to work on the writing but doing little things can really add up to something in the end so it makes a difference to keep encouraging yourself to get something down. But like you said breaks are also really important !!
      Aww.. thank you for all your faith and support !! I hope I can do the edits but I have yet to do anything *hides* haha !!
      Yes I just kept going back to it and felt like I could dive into the writing which was a bonus as I hate the prep. Like you said, the inspiration was high and it makes sense to take advantage of that !!
      Planning is super hard, making to-do lists and monthly goals makes a difference for me but still I struggle. I wish you all the best of luck with it though !!
      Retelling stories would be awesome. I know what you mean about wanting to read more to understand what has been done but you could always makes little notes whilst you wait to get you ideas flowing slightly !!
      I haven't read the originals either but I do know what Disney editions you are on about as I used to have them haha !!
      Thank you sooo much Charlotte for reading, this wonderful comment and the support !! Best of luck to you as well!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Its still incredible, whatever the length!! Don’t sell yourself short. 💕
        Thanks. I guess I’m just very good at putting it off 🙈
        Ooh really? I bet they looked at you like ‘wtf is she on about’ 😂 Aww don’t cry!! It was true and you can tell from all of your posts that you’re an absolutely incredible writer ❤️❤️
        Yeah that’s true, it all adds up in the end ☺️
        Aww that’s understandable, you probably need a bit of a break after tackling the first draft so quickly. And it’ll be easier to handle the edits after a bit of a break most likely.
        Yeah definitely. It’s good to write when you have that burst of inspiration and it can really keep the story flowing.
        Thank you, to do lists are definitely a good idea. And the goals like you said. Making sure I remember to write ideas down when I get them would be a good idea too. And clearly at that. I’ve written just a few words about ideas before then looked back and thought ‘ok but what the hell does that even mean’ 😂😂
        That’s true and I have done a bit of that already, only odd characters notes so far though.
        Yay snap!! That reminds me you shared an old cookbook on Instagram once and I have a copy of it at home too 😂 but yeah I think everyone had those Disney books.
        Aww thank you ❤️💕

        Like

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