My writing process- Brainstorming

Lately I’ve had writing on the brain. So much so that I’ve yet to finish reading a book so far this year.

*hangs head in shame*

Anyway, since I’ve been writing so much, I’ve been thinking a lot about my process in an attempt to make it more efficient and less stressful for me.

And I thought I would talk with all of you, to see what works for you. Maybe I could take bits and pieces of your ideas and create something that helps me focus more. For most people, their writing process begins with brainstorming. I’m no exception to that rule. So let’s start there.

my writing process- brainstorming

For me, brainstorming is a very general process.

I usually something in mind that I want to build a story around. It starts general, and moves towards something more specific until I have a setting, character, genre, etc., that I want to build a novel or story around. Even then, the specifics don’t often come to me until later.

Mind mapping is often what helps me go from general to specific details.

Starting with an idea or two, I branch out and find/create more specific details about the idea and try to discover connections between them. What fits together? What would help create a world? What character traits can I use? Sometimes more than one mind-map is useful as things get more specific and break down into smaller parts.

Listing is usually the other way I go about brainstorming.

Similar to mind mapping, this generally consists of me writing down things. It’s not unusual for those things to make absolutely no sense at all whatsoever. Even to me. This method is often how I come up with ideas for blog posts as well as story ideas. It allows me to go through and find ideas that I can combine, or further develop.

Some people do all of this on the computer, but I find that for me hand-writing everything is the best way to organize my thoughts. There is something about scrawling ideas on paper that really helps me to focus, or find ideas buried in my mind.


Check out the post I wrote for NaNoWriMo on Brainstorming.


What is your brainstorming process like?

Do you have an ongoing (and constantly growing) list of ideas? Do you come up with ideas one-by-one (that’s usually how it works for me)?

How do you keep everything organized?

To Pants or To Plan (that is the question)

Badges from

Badges from

Are you a planner, a pantser, or some kind of combination of the two?

Before researching and beginning to plan my NaNoWriMo novel last year, I never really thought of my own writing process or the steps I could take in preparation to write my novel. I was always one to have some sort of idea in mind of the shape I wanted my stories to take. I allowed my writing, plot, and characters to naturally flow every which way until I had some sort of jumbled mess that took forever to wade through and come to a conclusion with. In short, before last year I was a serious pantser.

But pantsing (flying by the seat of your pants with a story) really works for some people.

Sometimes the natural flow of a story works (which I discoverd while writing a YA contemporary novel that still isn’t completed). You can allow things to naturally progress at their own pace. And then they take off, which can be really exciting.

Image credit:

Image credit:

The trouble with pantsing for me was that I got so lost in my own story and didn’t remember where I began and had no idea of where I wanted my novel to go next. So I got discouraged and my novel got put on the shelf, and hasn’t been touched since.

“But I can’t handle not having my outline!!!”- says the hard-core planner

Found on:

Found on:

In the beginning of last October, I began my research and planning for my NaNo novel. I found some amazing character sketch sheets and filled a notebook with notes, character sketches, and a very basic outline. It was the first time I really planned my writing out. But I read about the dangers of over-planning my novel and didn’t want to have such a tight, constrained outline for my novel that it couldn’t progress naturally. Some people can create a beautiful outline that is stunningly fool-proof and that they can directly transfer over to their novel.

I am not that kind of person.

Actually I’m kind of a hot mess while writing.

Maybe you can have the best of both worlds.

My character sketches were helpful, even though I didn’t really look at them. My outline kind of went out the window except for major plot points which I knew I needed and a lot of the details that I researched.

Found at:

Found at:

Actually I discovered that my structure for outlining was very constraining, and a loose outline was the way to go with my writing style and with this particular novel.

Having a good outline structure really helps too.

It wasn’t until I was revising that I finally found that outline structure that helps me outline basic plot points that push the plot along. You can get as detailed with the outline as you want, but this makes sure your novel is actually going somewhere. This video explains everything really well. Katytastic is one of my favorite vloggers and has great information about writing.

I now have this plot structure in mind as I write, and only outline a couple of chapters ahead in advance, so I have an idea of plot movement and let my novel progress naturally.

Could this be the best of both worlds? I don’t know, but it works for me!

It’s really all about what works for you.

There’s no right way to go about it. Each writer’s process for planning (or not planning) is just as different than their actual writing process. That’s the beauty of it. That’s why we have such radically different novels and stories. Which is pretty awesome if you ask me 🙂

Are you a pantser or a planner? What is your process like?

Related posts:

Things You Can Do to Prepare for NaNoWriMo