Are you a planner or a pantser? No, don’t answer right away. I want you to really stop and think about it for a minute. It’s not just about how you write – it’s who you are. Is the impulse toward pantsing embedded deep within your very soul, aching to be release in a glorious burst of creativity? If you lived in some sort of high-tech futuristic city with poorly-defined borders and no discernible culture would the annual Sorting Ceremony mark you eternally as a member of the Planner class? I’m telling you, this is serious business.
For those not well-versed in the cutesy terminology of online writing communities, ‘pantsing’ (as in ‘seat-of-your-pants’) refers to the act of starting your novel without a definite outline in place. ‘Planning’, as you might expect, is the opposite.
I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that you can reduce all writers to two broad ‘types’, but whether you want to meticulously outline the beginning of a novel or just wing it is something you should probably decide before you start. Unless you’re writing something that actually requires a great deal of planning before going in (like a lot of non-fiction), it’s probably more a matter of choice than anything else.