The Writing Process — Step By Step

love wrier 3LOL. Ahh, yes, so true. 🙂

The writing process is an interesting topic and one I’m driven to share, because this process is much the same for all of us, whether we’re on the road to publication or have already arrived there. The journey never stops.

Let me give you some points to note about the fabulous writing process. Sit back. Relax. Because this is truly how the writing process works, and as writers we quickly learn to trust in it.


  • The task isn’t in the writing, but in the rewriting.
  • Seriously, your first draft isn’t supposed to be that great. You’re supposed to just continue on right to the end without too much self-editing. Phew. *wipes brow*
  • Why? Because as you write this first draft, your story will build, and you will come to know your characters’ personalities.
  • Which means the second draft will be better. Oh yeah.
  • The third better still. *smiling*
  • Now I know you see where I’m heading with this, because the more each chapter is rewritten, the better it’ll get.
  • So, how many rewrites are there? Most authors will tell you around seven.
  • Yes, we edit and edit far more than we ever spent time in originally writing the book.
  • How come? Because we trust in the writing process, and it’s simply how it’s done.



So, back to that all important first draft, and the writing process for this. Do we plot? Or do we fly by the seat of our pants and make it up as we go along? Often referred to as being a pantser.

  • That’s entirely up to you. As writers we have very creative minds, and our characters do as well.
  • Plotting is great, and I’m completely on board for this.
  • But at heart I’m a pantser. I love to let my characters take over. They drive the story, often throwing me into the backseat and taking the wheel. It’s all about strapping on a seatbelt and enjoying the ride.
  • For me, my first three contracted books were 20% plotted and 80% flying by the seat of my pants. Two of these three books are part of an eight-book young adult series. So for the third book in the series which I’m currently writing, I’ve swapped to 80% plotted. Why the change to plotting for someone who’s a pantser at heart? Because it’s part of the writing processAs writers we have to adapt, and for me, here’s my reason why.
  • I was requested during the submission stage of my second book in the series, to provide a synopsis for the third book. Now, this is a book I hadn’t yet written, although from the moment I was asked, I was actually beyond excited. The pantser within me of course had a few doubts, but I set her worries aside and instead spent an entire day plotting and plotting, and by the end of it I’d written a fabulous synopsis for my third young adult book. At the moment I’m close to finishing that first draft, and during the writing process I’ve actually managed to stay on track, all while allowing the creative pantser within me a little of her crazy streak.
  • What I can happily report is that plotting definitely pays off. My current book’s first draft has been written quicker and smarter due to having a plotted synopsis on hand. And whenever I veer too far off track, one look at my synopsis brings me back. My characters still burst with personality, and they still tell me to take a backseat at times, but I’ve found an even sweeter balance with the switch to a greater plotting level. Step by step, I’m still learning.
  • So, if you’re right now a pantser and considering plotting your next book, I can say it works. I’ve already plotted the storyline and written the synopsis for the next book which I’ll begin in a couple of months. I’m all ready to go, and it’s a wonderful feeling. I’m ready for both my front- and backseat rides.

So, are you a plotter or a pantser? Or like me, have you discovered you can actually work at being both? What’s your percentage? Maybe it’s half and half. Leave me a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you.

Thanks for dropping by to see me this week, and if you’d like to pick up your fabulous “fly by the seat of your pants” copy of Protector or to gift it to someone special, the links are just below. 🙂 Have a fabulous week.

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26 thoughts on “The Writing Process — Step By Step

  1. Hi Joanne 🙂 Just checking in as I do when I can. This was a great article. My favorite part was having the synopsis to help keep you on track. I know that characters can sometimes (often!) write themselves, but that’s a great bit of advice to keep a synopsis on hand to keep yourself on track. Insightful 🙂

  2. Joanne, wonderful post. I’ve always considered myself a pantser, because an outline seemed so confining. But really, I guess I do outline – in my head. What I have found is that after completing the first draft FAST (I did NaNoWriMo last year), I was overwhelmed when it came to editing. So I did a chapter outline after the book was written. Now I have a map, and can keep track of what happened where.

    Thanks for your informative posts and your inspiration. We can all use the support and you are good at providing it.

    1. Thanks so much for the sweet words. *smiling*

      NaNoWriMo sounds so cool. I haven’t yet had a chance to participate in one, but I will. The first draft can definitely be fast for us pantsers, because we just write hard and fast as our muse takes us. But you hit the nail on the head with the editing. That is always huge on the 2nd draft.

      It’s great you’ve done a chapter outline and now have a map. I’m sure it’s going to be hugely beneficial.

      I can say having plotted most of this first draft I’ve just written, my 2nd draft appears more like a fourth already. It’s much cleaner. I’m definitely going to save a ton of time having switched to a higher plotting percentage. I can’t wait to see just how much time I’ve saved once the book is complete and ready to submit. What usually takes me 4 months, might just take me less than 3. That’s huge if it does.

  3. Hi, Joanne. I’ve always been a panster, but I’m finding the need to plot more and more. Still not there, but I’m making more notes than I ever did when I begin a story. As far as revisions, I don’t do many. I’ve never learned to be a first draft writer. I constantly edit, revise and polish as I go (which is probably why it takes me months to finish a book). When I finish a WIP, I normally only go over it one more time for a final edit before calling it done. I know that’s not the norm, but it works for me. I guess it all depends on the habits you develop!

    1. Hi, Mae. I loved hearing how you write. That’s wicked. What you do clearly works, and having read Weathering Rock, superbly.

      I’ve been chasing you around blogs today. LOL. Thanks for the comment over at Sonya Clark’s. Loved seeing it, and so glad you enjoyed my guest spot on “Hot Water Beach.”

      Lucky for me, I live in a country with a ton of beaches. There is still a lot more to come. Catch ya later. 🙂

  4. Hi Joanne,

    Another sweet post chalked full of great info!

    I think I’m a 40/70 plotter/pantser. The I’ve been working on is slow going mainly because of the ‘delete’ key…:) But I’m breaking that habit.

    I didn’t know anything about writing a novel when I started but knew that I needed an outline to organize my story. As I got into the ‘flow’ my fab characters took over, were reinvented to move the plot. At the end of the first draft I had a loose version based on the outline.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    1. Thanks for the sweet comment. 🙂 Ah, the old “delete” key. I totally get that.

      Isn’t is amazing how our characters take over? That still gets me every time. I’ll be writing a scene, and hello, my hero or heroine just throw in a line that has me grinning. Away my creative pantser streak goes, and before I know it, a juicy piece of storyline has just emerged. Sometimes these additional plots become the best part of the story. 🙂

  5. I’m a lover, not a plotter. I love to see where the characters take me as we write on through the white pages. I’d guess, 80% 20% pantser. I understand that plotting would make my writing easier (and your need to do so). It’s just that writing by-the-seat-of-my-pants is so much more fun!

  6. Was a pantser all the way, but I kept ending up with unfinished works, too many. So, I thought I’d give plotting a try, it’s worked pretty well. I still let the pantser come out and play–she’s my epiphany maker! The hardest part for me is editing–which I’m in the middle of right now :). But I’m slogging through…

    1. Hi, Amy. The editing is tough. It actually takes me only 4-6 weeks to write a 70,000 word novel, but three months to edit. This is quite normal. As you edit each draft, it gets quicker and quicker, until around those final two drafts when it can take only a week to make those last few necessary changes. Having plotted to 80% this time, I believe I’ve eliminated a month from this process. My first draft is closer to being more like a third. I’m loving that. 🙂

      I’m here, thinking of you as you slog away.

  7. As I work on my new project I am fidning myself to be both. I let the character do his/her thing, and at the end of the day I begin to plot. This allows me to think clearly. It allows me to conceive questions for the character as I plot the story. These question begin the next scene or chapters.

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