Guest Posts

Writing More, Faster: 5 Tips for Writing Like a Pantser… A Guest Post By Julie Israel

Here is last weeks Guest Post by Julie Israel. My goodness this has been a week or so of epic brain farting on my behalf. Wow. Anyhow, here it is, and a fantastic one at that.


A professor at university once told the class there are two kinds of writers: the editors, who nitpick word by word and move very slowly, but have something like a final draft by the time they finish the first draft; and the pantsers, who just kind of run at the next sentence without an escape plan, and never look back (until subsequent drafts, of which there will probably be a lot more). Each approach has its pros and cons, and many writers are in truth a combination of pantser and editor, but as someone who has always been more of an editor and writes very slowly herself, I think there is something to be learned from the pantsers. That’s why today I am going to share a few tips on how to write more like a pantser: in that reckless way that allows you to get the story out as quickly as possible.

1. NO EDITING. Pantsers move forward, not backward. What makes editors tortoises is our tendency to go back and reread what we’ve written and change it and change it and read it and change it again. If we can get in the mindset of not allowing ourselves to edit at all, we will move forward at a much steadier pace.

2. I mean it. Say goodbye to your little friend “Delete.” If you can resist the urge to make changes to your manuscript as you’re going, wherever you’re going you will get there ridiculously faster. Take “Delete” out of the equation and watch your word count go UP.

3. Allow yourself to write poorly. Seriously. It will be much easier to get words on the page and resist the urge to improve them if you accept the wisdom of Ernest Hemingway: “The first draft of anything is shit,” and grant yourself permission to be less than perfect. Let bad be bad. Fix it later.

4. Word counts. For hardcore editor-types, sometimes the only way to really drive home the idea of writing with reckless abandon is a hard goal, often accompanied by the gentle shove of an imposing deadline. That’s why National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is effective for so many writers: it forces us to push past our inhibitions to make the 1,667 word count goal by midnight each day of November. Try it. Set a bar and time limit for yourself and see where it takes you.

5. JUST WRITE! This may sound redundant, but it is really the golden rule that underlies all of the others: the only way to move a story forward is to put more words on the page. It doesn’t matter if you know, even as you’re writing, that you’re going to cut a portion or sweet Jesus, that it really sucks—words are progress, and progress is good. Just go for it!

Finally, a word on the title of this article: “More, Faster.” Note I do not say “Better.” There are always exceptions, but generally speaking the tradeoff with pantsing is that your work will be rougher and less polished when you complete a first draft. And really, that’s okay: that’s what revisions and editing are for. The important thing in the first draft is to get the story out. Everything else will follow. As it has been said before me, “It is a lot easier to edit crap than nothing.”

Thank you very much Julie! Sometimes I think we all need to be reminded to just go for it, it is okay if the first draft doesn’t equal the quality of Gone With The Wind… Thank you for stopping by.

13 thoughts on “Writing More, Faster: 5 Tips for Writing Like a Pantser… A Guest Post By Julie Israel

    • Interesting, I might have to try this, though I do wonder if my inner editor will permit me to.. Thanks for stopping by Barbara!

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about writing like a pantser lately. I think I am somewhere in the middle. I try to writer without editing first, but I always fix my typos etc at the end of each segment of writing. My OCD would never allow it

    • I think we are all somewhere in the middle. It would help me so much if I could do it. I am always going back correcting things. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pingback: Doing the Good Hard Work | Brooklindsay

Sing Canary! Sing! :D

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