Pantser or Plantser?


When I started on my writing journey a few years ago I felt ill prepared for achieving my goals so I did what probably a lot of you have done I went to the internet, I followed people on YouTube and I read blogs. I’m not sure what I was looking for, some guidance or some inspiration maybe. What I found then was a lot of chat around planning.

I’m not against planning or goal setting but a lot of what I was reading then was about how to plan a novel, the intricate detail of chapter plans and character arcs the whole thing made me want to run away. I knew then just like I know now that, that wasn’t for me. If I planned my stories out that much I’d be bored of it before I even started constructing the book.

I am at heart a pantser, (as an aside I also like that whenever I type pantser autocorrect tries to change it to panther and it warms my heart to know one day I’ll not notice and write that I’m a panther). I like to follow the story through the eyes of my characters and allow for organic change to take place. That’s probably why it takes me a while to get going with a new project because I’m not fully comfortable in the new MCs head yet.

The downside of this style is that you tend to create plot holes for yourself and as I write crime it’s especially important not to leave your reader irritated that you’ve left a loose end somewhere that feels unintentional or feeling underwhelmed by your conclusion.

Lately I’ve developed a very loose planning method which I’d describe as a thought worm and it goes like this:

Why did this happen? - all the possible answers - select the preferred answer - how does MC find out? -

and so on until I’ve worked out the basic plot points. The thing I like about this is because I brainstorm all the possible answers to each question and create a time line of events, I can always make alterations and go back to the same basic questions.

I’ve found this method helps me to move my WIP on at a better place and lessened the amount of time I spend staring at the page thinking ‘I wonder what will happen next’.

Does this mean I’ve become a Planner - hell no, no disrespect, hats off to you if you can write a chapter plan and stick to it throughout. But I would say that I’ve incorporated a level of planner and whilst still heavily err towards being a pantser occasionally I’m a plantser.

I’m thoroughly of the belief that there is no right way, although I’ve heard people be disparaging of their opposing method. We all have to find our own path and if it works for you then you do you.

I’d love to hear about whether you’re a planner, plantser or a pantser, share your thoughts in the comments.

Fully Supported


This year I have decided to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. I was going to mention it last week but to be honest I was nervous, this will be the largest amount of words I’ve ever targeted myself for and 10k more words than I have ever written in a month. So, I held back, wondering if I should mention it at all, just in case. Then I realised that I’m not that person anymore even though there is a default of embarrassment and shame inherent in me that says don’t talk openly about goals like this, what if you fail? People will judge you.

But the truth is that the writing community I surround myself with are kind, supportive cheerleaders of one another, I’ve never seen them put someone down for trying and not quite making it.It’s the opposite in fact, I’ve seem them get behind one another, letting other writers know that they believe in them, encouraging them to push that little bit harder and to write that little bit more. And if you don’t quite make it to your target they’re the first people to remind you how far you came and to admire what you’ve achieved.

So here I am letting you all know I’m going to give Camp nanowrimo a go, I know it’s going to be tough, the last nine days have already had their challenges. I’m a little behind schedule, at 8600 words but I know I have a few days this month where I’ll have the opportunity to get really long sessions in which will catch me up or drive me forward depending on where I am with it all.

I’ll keep you posted and thanks in advance for all the support. I’d love to hear how you’re doing on your Camp nanowrimo journey if you’re getting involved, let me know in the comments.

What Have I Done Lately?


It’s hard to believe that we already almost a quarter through the year. I’m sure that time passes quicker the older you get.

So far this year has seen me torn between to WIPs both of which I really want to write. I did consider for a brief moment working on the simultaneously but realistically I don’t have the time available to do either justice if I do.

I have settled on continuing The Wasps Nest.

I started the year with a fairly flexible attitude to goals hoping that that would mean it would fall in line with what the project needed. I have since discovered that I was a bit foolish with that idea. Instead I have probably wasted time getting distracted trying to decide what to write and haven’t made the progress I probably otherwise would have.

I have started listening to The Best Seller Experience Podcast and watching Will Dean author tube recently and have found this massively motivating. They have both reminded me of the simple undeniable rule for writing that nothing gets done unless you put your arse in the charge and write.

I employed that method recently and was delighted by the 8500 words I produced that week. Though it should have hardly been a surprise when I wrote for 5 out of the 7 days. This week I haven’t managed to squeeze in as much time but I have still produced 2000 words that I know were done at a time I previously wouldn’t have used as productively.

The morale of this story is clearly that when I put my mind to it and make the time I can achieve a lot. It’s also taught me that I have more time available than I previously realised.

In brief quarter one of this year has taught me; I need some structure, I have more time than I knew and that goals are more of a help than a hinderance. So, whilst I still am firm that I don’t want to be in a position where I beat myself up over achievement of goals I do want to strive to do more.

With that in mind I have decided that I would like to be finished my first draft of The Wasps Nest by 30th June 2019. I am currently at 21000 words, my first drafts are usually 80000 words, there’s 15 weeks between then and now - I calculate this as an average of 4000 words a week.

If I had suggested this to myself even a month ago I would have thought I’d lost my mind but now it feels achievable, not easy but like something I can do. I have heard the expression ‘how do you eat an elephant? - 1 chunk at a time’ used a lot recently in relation to writing. I am prepared to start carving up my proverbial elephant and I look forward to updating you with my progress.

I’d love to hear about how you’re getting on with your current WIP or creative project and your approach goal setting so leave me a comment below.

New Year...New Goals?


When I started writing my first book I relied on my goal setting process a lot to keep me motivated and to have something tangible to measure my progress against. It was a structure that I had never before put in place and I still think that not having a structure had helped me fail to complete books in the past.

Because this structure was so successful for me the first time around I tried to maintain the exact same format the I moved into writing my second book. But what I found was that some of the variables had changed. I was querying that book whilst starting to write a second book. And as I grappled with my time constraints I found it was really hard to keep using the same formula.

I’d describe my approach with my second book as a little more organic, my word count target became more about a monthly target than weekly so that when I didn’t have as much time one week I didn’t feel like. I hadn’t put in the work. It worked well for me. Having more fluid targets and goals was really important while writing that book because I wrote it during a very difficult time at work which required me to significantly increase my hours, I had a lot less down time and on top of that I had some health issues which left me struggling to have the physical or emotional energy to do very much.

I’ve recently started my third book. I always find the first 20,000 words the hardest, I suffer with the most self doubt during this phase and I know that’s because my books are very character driven and it takes about that long to feel really comfortable with the characters.

I am sure that there are plenty of writers who can use the exact same process of scheduling and goal setting for every book they write, I’m not one of them. What the last three years have taught me is that it’s really important to do what works for you. That might seem stupidly obvious but with all the advice out there in the writing world about what you should and shouldn’t do I feel it’s worth reminding myself.

So this year my new goal setting plan is to do what’s right for the project i’m working on. That means accepting that the first 40,000 ish words will take longer than the second and building that into my expectations, that querying takes time, not just to send your query away but to process feedback and rejection.

All the guidance out there is great and some of it really helped me when I started out, it’s a bit like choosing the topping on your pizza, you wouldn’t choose to add mushrooms if you’re just going to pick them off again or it’s going to mean you won’t eat/enjoy your food.

How’s your planning going so far this year? I’d love to learn about what other writers do, feel free to tell me all about it in the comments.

To Thine Own Self Be True (Shakespeare)


When it comes to planning for my WIPs I am a self confessed Panster and I’m good with that. I’ve talked about the benefits and pitfalls in previous blogs. But for some reason when I started to think about my latest WIP, The Wasps Nest, I decided to do some planning, it’s a multiple POV book spanning 25 years and it has complications that I’ve never worked with before. I guess I was scared and I succumbed to the idea that my previous way of working just wasn’t up to this new task.

Well you know what I was wrong.

I did the planning and actually it was a pretty impressive document, I wrote character profiles and time lines and all sorts of other impressive looking things. You want to know what happened next? I spent 25000 words sticking to that plan until I came to the realisation that nothing was working.

I scrapped the lot and started again, the character profiles were good but to be honest I had those in my head anyway, they didn't need to be written down.

If detailed planning works for you, then great have at ‘em, plan till your hearts content because that’s what you need. What I need (and I knew this) is the ability to be able to move with a story, letting evolve and change as I go along. For me this means more work at the editing stage and I am good with that.

I really hope that I remember the lesson I have learnt; that just because a project is different, complicated or big doesn’t mean I have to change everything about my creative process. I have to do what works for me.

Quarter Three Goals


It's a fresh quarter and I've taken some time to reflect on last quarter and think about what I want to achieve in this new one. I don't always achieve my goals but I definitely find that having goals keeps me more focused and on track.

Quarter three this year is all about me buckling down to the final round of edits of my current WIP titled Good & Guilty and I hope to be in a position to start querying agents by August time. I've already been working on my synopsis and letter a task that nearly broke me last time. Both still require some work but are nearly there and I think I have learnt a lot about synopsis writing over the last year or so which has made me feel more comfortable with what I am trying to achieve.

A challenge I have set myself is to learn how to write an elevator pitch. It's a skill that has completely alluded me up until now so will probably take some work and dedication.

In addition I have a new WIP brewing away in the back of my head and whilst I have jotted myself some notes I haven't done much planning. Not that I am a bigger planner anyway as you all know but I do like to write up a big picture mind map.

The new WIP requires me to do more research than ever before and will be written over a couple of time periods. I don't like to have long periods where I'm not writing so having a new project to look forward to is great but at the moment I am really loving editing and polishing Good & Guilty.

I have also set myself quite a few personal goals as well and while I prefer to keep them private one that I am happy to share is cooking.  I've always loved to cook and bake but I tend to go through phases and I'm hoping to be making more new recipes and increasing my repertoire of vegetarian dishes as well.

Best Laid Plans...


I recently blogged about my goal setting and how it has changed and evolved over the last couple of years.  I recently decided that quarterly goal more suited my journey and changed over to them from monthly ones at the beginning of quarter two this year.  I knew there were some things coming up in my work and personal life that would have an impact on what I was able to achieve so I factored this in trying to make sure my goals were stretching enough whilst still staying in the realm of achievable.

The last couple of weeks have been off the chart challenging in my day job and my personal life and the things I thought I had factored in turned out to be much more taxing than I originally anticipated.  I haven't done any work to my WIP in the last three weeks for example.

The good news is that in the first half of April I had managed to get myself well ahead of schedule.  The bad news is even with that solid start I'm still really behind.  

I've gone back to my goals and since these are self made I've been able to tweak them but some of them are time sensitive and some of the goals I have set give me the chance to take advantage of opportunities that are only available for a limited time.

As I write this I am in the lucky position that I have managed to take some time away from my day job and within that small amount of time I'm going to give myself time for some writing.  Not being able to write recently has had a negative affect on my general well being and has reinforced how important it is for me to be indulging in my passion and working on achieving my dreams.

I am, I think, a reasonably flexible person and generally able to roll with the punches.  But what this last little while has taught me is even the best of us get knock out sometimes.  The important thing for me now is to get back up and start moving forward again.

So whilst I'm not totally fighting fit and ready to get back in the ring I am getting there.  I see all over social media people saying you must find the time to write everyday no matter what and I think that, that is a lovely idea in an ideal world.  I have never been able to manage that and have been content with knowing that I carve out as much time for writing as I can every week.  I've even taken breaks away from the pages and the keyboard but that's always been choice.  Right now the circumstances have been forced upon me and there's nothing I can do to change that.

Finally I see a small light at the end of what will undoubtedly be a very long tunnel but the sight of it gives me hope that I will get back to my routine and all will be well in my little world again.

I think it is really important to remember that as long as you don't give up you're winning.  As long as  I find my way back to my WIP I'll be ok. 

I've Moved On (to quarterly goals)


If you've been reading my blog from the beginning then you'll know that from time to time I write about setting goals and organisation and how they help me achieve.  And if you haven't well feel free to spend some time going back to those blogs.

Like with all parts of my journey my goal setting has evolved along the way.  During my first WIP I set monthly goals to help keep me motivated.  Late last year I moved on to Bullet Journaling as a way of having more focused and simply more goals.  Everyone was raving about how great it was blah blah blah so I thought I would give it a shot.  It worked not bad for the first couple of months and then it completely failed.  I'm not dissing Bullet Journaling it just turns out it wasn't for me.

My original goal setting had been simple lists with 5-7 things on them which I would scribble on throughout the month to mark my percentage to completion.  I've decided to go back to this because it worked before and it felt manageable.  

I bought a very nice notebook for my Bullet Journaling and as I wouldn't want to see this go to waste I am now using this for my lists.  

I set about writing Aprils list and I found that as I thought about what I was hoping to achieve I spilled over into Mays and before you know it June as well.  So for the first time albeit accidentally I had created a set of quarterly goals for myself.

I have some pretty lofty ambitions for this quarter.  I'll be finishing the first draft of the current WIP, editing, querying and planning my next WIP and working on my original book and deciding if I want to do another shot at querying it later in the year.

I’m super excited to have created my first set of quarterly goals because there is also a tonne of other stuff going on in my work and personal life in this quarter, including having to study for, sit and pass a work related exam before the end of May and our annual two week summer holiday to name a couple of the biggies.  So to have this plan for my writing has helped me think about what I need to do, about how organised I am going to have to be and to be focused on what I want to achieve.

By Q3 I'll be moving on to a new position of writing my third book.  I'll be querying my second and I'm excited.  I hope that I can rise to the occasion and achieve my goals this quarter and I'll be sure to let you know.  I've set myself 21 goals in total.

I would thoroughly recommend goal setting of some sort as it really does help you to be motivated and focused.  

Back on Track


I talk about goals a lot.  This is because I am both naturally a day dreamer and fairly competitive.  So without goals I could easily get derailed and end up not achieving.  Setting goals helps keep my more distractible self in check and appeals to my competitive side.  I love it when I smash a word count goal and see my dreams start to take shape.

I've been pretty honest on my blog talking about the challenges I was having trying to readjust my goals after completing my novel.  All of a sudden I was editing and researching agents etc and I missed actually writing.  I have been muddling through for the first three quarters of this year.  Now that doesn't mean I haven't achieved anything because I have. I've edited my book, I'm working through lists of agents for submissions, I'm dealing with rejections and I'm working on a new WIP.

You might be thinking that doesn't sound to bad for someone without a plan but luckily I have a BIG PICTURE plan which has just about kept me in check.  But I'm missing those regular and quarterly goals I was working with in the beginning.  The great news is that I have untangled myself from all the knots I was in and am no in a great space to get them set up,again.

Previously I've always kept my goals close to my chest, one of the changes I've decided to make this time is to make my goals public and I will review these in a blog at the start of the next quarter which this time round will coincide with the start of a New Year.

So here they are:

  • Send queries to all suitable agents for The Long Lie

  • Hit 35000 words on my WIP

  • Blog every week

  • Use my own photographs on at least half of these

  • Read 5 more books

  • Invest in a new printer

  • Purchase a binding machine

  • Organise my office

  • Host a Christmas Giveaway on Twitter

I am so grateful for the people who visit my blog and I would love to hear about you journey, progress and your goals.  If you have any questions or want to share leave your thoughts in the comments section of you can tweet me @_AngelaC1975

Flying by the Seat of my Pants


I never realised that there were two specific categories of writer - those that planner and those that don't.

I come into the second - I barely even out line to be honest. In most recently completed book I knew who the main characters were.  I knew who done it and I knew why - but the details were all a bit vague at the start.  

I had read lots of things which told me that unless you were a super start writer then the only way was to meticulously plan everything.  But I've never much cared for following the rules and I knew that over planning would suck the life out of the story telling for me.  

I started out with a mind map and some prompt cards which I could refer to when I forgot someone's name or any other relevant information.  For me this allows the characters and the story room to breathe and I need that.

I remember saying to my husband one day "Well I didn't know he was going to discover an unusual murder weapon did I" and him looking at me as if I had lost the plot.  These days he's gotten used to it.

It has its down sides for example when I did my first round of revisions I had to back fill a part of the story where I had changed the importance of a character and a location of a crime scene.  In my current WIP my victim is missing a foot.  I found myself thinking -"Why, why is she missing a foot - how did that happen and what relevance does it have to the rest of the story.  

It's ok that's not a spoiler alert I'm in the very early stages so who knows what the foot situation will be by the time the book is finished.

There's no time saving in it because what I gain at the beginning of the project I loose with revisions at the end,  I write like I live my life by the seat of my pants.  There are pitfalls in this approach but it works for me.

I've said it before and I am sure I'll find myself thinking it and saying it again; it is not about doing it a specific way it is about actually doing it and to hell with how other people make it work it only has to work for you.

Planning 2.0


Right back at the start of this blog I posted about how I managed my writing process though goal setting.  Goals and time planning are the corner stones of achieving the completion of my first novel and then helped me through the editing stage.

I’m still a big fan of goal setting and I hope that it will inspire me through my 2nd novel and current WIP.  So this is not where I tell you that I've thrown all of that out of the window.  For all those who follow me regularly, firstly thank you :) and secondly you'll be aware that I've spoken a lot about the challenges I've been going through recently.

Trying to edit and prepare my original work for querying was gruelling and I'm not going to lie I found myself wanting to scream with frustration trying to write a synopsis.  Procrastinating on Twitter more than I should have did actually bring some comfort because I discovered that's how everyone feels.

In addition my non writer life has been throwing time challenges at me left, right and centre and I have found myself treading water rather than making progress.  I have accepted that these pressures and challenges are not going away any time soon, so I feel like it's a case of do something different or accept defeat.

I don't give in lightly so I decided to rethink my goal management and realised that the popular trend of bullet journaling might actually offer me a solution.  So I am only two weeks into my first month but I am enjoying seeing myself make progress across the stepping stones that end in achieved goals.

I will keep you updated on how this works out but for the first time in a while I feel like I'm working my way out of this quagmire.  

Springtime Plans


For the last year I've been working towards a singular goal; write my first complete novel, edit it and begin the journey to publication.  Throughout all that time I utilised a goal setting method using monthly objectives.

This system has worked particularly well for me keeping me focused and determined during the tough times. I'm now at a point where I can start ticking off some of those first lofty goals:  Book written - check; editing - more than half way through; journey to publication in progress.

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll remember that during the start of my editing process I was missing the creative process of writing so i began a new WIP which I have subsequently put on a back burner because it wasn't really working.  You'll also know that I then made the decision to begin the second book of the series I had begun with my recently finished project.

Now I find myself in the realisation that I haven't been using my goal system as much since the turn of the year and I guess this is because the editing and journey to publication are much more fluid activities which can't be tethered and controlled by goal setting.

As we enter into the Springtime and a new quarter of year is heralded in it seems a fine time to get myself back into a productive routine where I hold myself accountable.   So today I've taken my battered notebook which has held the measure of my goal achievement and jotted down what I expect of myself between now and the end of April.  

I'm not being to hard on myself to begin with: 

  • 5000 Words of my WIP

  • A weekly Blog Post

  • Regular Social Media Activity

  • Continue Editing

  • Complete Spreadsheet of Potential Agents

I'll keep you updated with progress.  In the last year I have learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of that I move into this new era of my writing where I am both looking back and forward in my writing.  It's exciting and scary in equal measure.  I have a greater understanding of my personal writing process now but I'm not under any delusion that it's going to be any easier second time round.  I am also painfully aware of what I don't know.  I don't know if my work will find a home with an agent and a route to traditional publication.  I don't know what the world will think of what I've written. 

There are so many unknown entities there's also the things I do know.  Writing is a part of me, I feel so much more fulfilled now that it's a permanent fixture in my life, so as I move forward I look forward to the road unfolding in front of me knowing that I have what it takes to weather the storms, negotiate the twists and turns and enjoy every minute of it.



In my quest to take my writing seriously and to take myself as a writer seriously, which as a side note is equally as important, I realised that organisation was the one thing I had never really given much if any attention.

I set about thinking of what needed to happen from here (in this case here was not the beginning it was about 7000 words in) to the finish line.  The finish line, I quickly realised was not writing 80000 words.  In the bigger,  this book is ready for publication yeehah, plan 80000 words was definitely an important landmark an amazing achievement, but not, however the end of the journey.

No wonder so many people give up or put it in the I’ll do that one day pile.  I did my research and I discovered that “real” authors were talking about word count plans and monthly/quarterly goals.  

Could this work for me?  Was this the piece of the puzzle I was missing?  I mean I am pretty certain my idea is awesome, I love writing and I love my characters but I’ve been here before and there are awesome ideas in my ‘I never got round to completing’ this file.

I knew I had to do something different this time.  I had to think about the business side of writing.  I want this to be my full time occupation (now part of a pretty damn fine five year plan BTW) so I have integrated a shed load of planning and organising and scheduling into my writing.  Goals are just one part of this.  Now I have a route map for my journey and each goal or set of goals are points of interest.