5 Benefits of Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

5 Benefits of Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

By on May 26, 2015 in Fiction, Writing & Editing


Writing by the seat of your pants means to write a book, or a story as you go, without planning ahead or structuring any kind of a plot. To most writers, this sounds really scary. That’s why they sit down, make an outline, and create the plot, the characters and the events in the novel. Then, when the time comes for them to sit down to actually write the story, a number of writers might come up blank. And it can get worse – you might begin writing, even reach a certain number of words and chapters, and then you realize that you’re suffering a writer’s block. If this has happened to you – congratulations! It simply means that outlining and plotting isn’t the right writing method for you. Instead, it means that your inherent, natural method of writing involves writing by the seat of your pants, or more commonly known as “pantsing.” This method has just as many benefits as plotting, and below, we’ve gathered several reasons why.

1. You do have a goal

Just because you’re writing your story as you go, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a story goal in mind. In fact, once you begin, you’ll realize that yes, there is a place you want to reach. You might not know how exactly you’re going to reach that place, but you’ll continue writing until you do. Most plotters will readily oppose this – and claim that plotting is a better method for developing a story goal and other key elements of a story, but they are largely incorrect. Both methods have the same effect – the completion of a story, and the difference is only in how you got there.

2. Your characters will be mysterious

Your characters will be as mysterious to you as to the readers. You are exploring them as you write about them – and this makes writing as you go so scary and exciting. And if it gets too scary to write about characters you haven’t gotten to know really well, then, you can always add a little planning to your method and write their backstories. Otherwise, feel free to discover their personalities, inner issues and their voices as you’re discovering your story.

3. You’re exploring your story

As previously mentioned, you’re exploring your story. If knowing how your story ends bores you, then in all probability, you will not be able to write, or it will be really difficult. And at the end of the day, writers write because that’s what excites them most in the world, and if plotting ruins that feeling and gives you limits instead of guidelines, then feel free to write your story and explore it as you go along. Even if a dragon decides to appear unexpectedly, you will probably explain that strange occurrence in a few chapters down the road.

4. Writer’s block

No writing method in the world will save you from suffering a writer’s block at least once in your writing life. Whether it’s a myth, or a dangerous reality, writer’s block happens and you might not be able to prevent it. But, there is a reason why the most commonly recommended “cure” for writer’s block is to write freely until you begin to write your story again. When it comes to writing as you go, you’re always, in a way writing freely. So, instead of writing scenes that might never make it into the book, you are creating side plots, tangents, and will probably take your story in a direction that will work better than you could have imagined, or planned.

5. It’s an adventure

And all of this together, makes writing a novel as you go a beautiful adventure. Of course, once you get to the end, you have a lot of editing to do to ensure your story is tight and that the plot, character development and character’s arcs come together beautifully. Before you reach that part, you’re going on a journey deep inside your mind in order to create the core of your story. So, enjoy all the good and bad moments of it, and don’t forget that you can always add a little planning and outline a little ahead, if you find you aren’t able to write your story as you go.

Image credit: Katherine Tompkins on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.


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