How I Learned to Write by the Seat of My Pants

I write by the seat of my pants

by Kassandra Lamb ~ The story of how I discovered I should write by the seat of my pants is a good lesson in two things—everybody is different and trust your instincts.

Like most of us, I was taught in English class to write outlines before starting an essay or story. So for years, I dutifully wrote outlines of stories, and then shoved the outline into a drawer and never finished the story.

There was one story, in particular, that periodically insisted I write it. It was about platonic friends—a female therapist and a male lawyer. They have an anonymous common enemy, who is not only threatening them but is also going after their loved ones.

So I wrote an outline. And I even wrote the first three chapters. And then life happened and my interest in the story faded. A few months later, I got out the outline, revised it and wrote another chapter. A year or two later, I revised the outline again and wrote chapter five.

This went on for 15 years!

But I never got past Chapter 5. I would redo the outline, edit the first few chapters, and then back into the drawer it went (or later, it was left languishing in my hard drive).

Finally, after I retired from my career as a therapist myself (hey, write what you know), I sat down one day, intending to, once again, rewrite the first chapter. I’d had what I thought was a brilliant idea for a different opening.

Something took over and I wrote almost nonstop for six weeks. And voila, the first draft of my first completed book was done (now Multiple Motives, Book 1 of my Kate Huntington series).

And I never once looked at the outline during those six weeks.

That was when it dawned on me that the outlines were the problem! Once I’d written the outline, the story was told. I’d lost interest in actually fleshing it out.

A pantser's closet -- I write by the seat of my pants
A pantser’s closet…LOL (photo by bbiddac on

I realized that I am what is called a pantser in the writerly world. I write by the seat of my pants.

And I am not alone. Quite a few authors are pantsers (as opposed to plotters; the ones who adore outlines). We’ve learned the hard way that our muses must be unfettered in order to produce a steady flow of words.

There are two problems with being a pantser, however. One is that it’s easy to get to the middle of a story and get bogged down (I call it the murky middle). I solved this by brainstorming and listing a number of plot points ahead of time—events, twists and turns that can happen in the story somewhere.

When I write by the seat of my pants, I can get bogged down in the murky middle.
Not me, but could be me, trapped in the murky middle. (photo by Elisa Ventur on

This becomes my crib sheet that I can fall back on when I can’t readily find the answer to the question, what next?

The other problem is that a pantser’s first draft is often quite messy. We may spend more time and energy on revisions than our counterparts (the plotters) do. But they spend that time up front on writing outlines, character sketches, etc. So it all evens out.

Every writer’s writing process is uniquely theirs.

Personally, I love to write by the seat of my pants. It is so much fun to sit down with a story idea and watch it unfold before my eyes!

Is there anything you do a little differently than others, but it works for you?

And we have a new release coming up next week! Kirsten Weiss’s Book 6 in her Wits’ End Doyle Cozies…

The Woman from Planet X

All Susan Witsend wants is some well-deserved R&R in small town Nowhere, Nevada, home to the world’s biggest collection of the world’s biggest things. But when she discovers a murdered mystery knitter who’s been planting her creations around town, Susan, her boyfriend Arsen, and her dog Bailey aren’t about to stick to their knitting. They’re on the case.

These wacky amateur detectives will have to untangle a big mystery and fast. Because if they don’t unravel the truth, a friend-in-need may wind up in jail for life.

A fast-paced and funny cozy mystery, packed with quirky characters, pets, and murder, it’s perfect for fans of Jana DeLeon, Janet Evanovich, and Donna Andrews.

ONLY $0.99 during PREORDER~ Releases 2/28/22


Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida. Plus she has started a new police procedural series, also set in Florida—The C.o.P. on the Scene mysteries. And she writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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  • Reply
    Barb Taub
    February 22, 2022 at 4:23 am

    Panthers of the world unite!

  • Reply
    Barb Taub
    February 22, 2022 at 4:25 am

    Damn you autocorrect! (Apparently it’s a plotter. Or the universe is against pantsers. )

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 23, 2022 at 2:05 am

      LOL Panthers probably need to unite as well. And of course autocorrect is a plotter!

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