6 Things Other Writers Do That I Can’t

Writers are creatures of habit, but each writer has their own particular set of habits. As I watch my fellow writers spin their tales, I’ve noticed them do some things that, for better or for worse, are simply out of my reach.

Here are six things other writers do that I can’t.

Improvise (a.k.a. ‘Pantsing’)

I live and die by the outline. While I firmly believe in allowing the story to grow organically and giving myself room to discover and be surprised by the process, if I try to write a complete story with no framework, no visual indication of where I’m going, I guarantee I won’t finish that project.

Write scenes/chapters out of order

Even though I always know what’s coming next thanks to my rigorous, often obsessive, outlining, I refuse to (and cannot) write the events of my story out of order. It just feels wrong. I know a lot of people have no problem doing so, and for some it even works better. But not me.

Write in cars/trains/planes

I’ve traveled a lot, and I’ve written in a lot of different countries. But try as I might, I can’t seem to write as I’m traveling. Writing in the car makes me carsick. Plane seats are too uncomfortable, and there are bound to be at least a dozen different movies playing on people’s screens to distract me. I’ve had minor success writing on trains, but more often than not I end up staring out the window.

Work on phones/tablets

A lot of people do this, and I wish I could because it looks so handy. But I can’t. I can’t keep notes, or write sections, or really do anything writing-related on my phone or tablet. Maybe my thumbs are too clumsy. Maybe the screen is too small. I don’t know. It just won’t happen.

Get up extra early to write

I’m not a morning person. I have, however, disciplined myself to be up at a decent hour and get to work (as long as there’s coffee). What I can’t do is force myself to get up earlier than my schedule dictates and expect myself to focus on the creative process. My brain functions far better late at night than early in the morning.

Write in my bedroom

This is mostly choice, but I can’t write or work in my own bedroom. Perhaps such proximity to my bed is too tempting, or perhaps the bookshelf behind me would be my undoing. Either way, I try to keep my work-space separate from my leisure/relax/sleeping space.


What are some of the things other writers do that don’t work for you? Drop a comment below! As always, I’m super glad you stopped by. Enjoy your day!

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25 thoughts on “6 Things Other Writers Do That I Can’t

  1. I can’t write an entire story on my computer xD I know I’ll have to do that later on but I’m just so used to handwriting stories.. y’know?

    I was a bit surprised when you said you couldn’t write on your bedroom. However, you have some good reasons…

    And maybe I should improvise less. That might help me write the story quickly xD

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  2. I’m with you on panting and writing things out of order. How do they do it? :O I don’t like writing on my phone but I do if I have to. And I write all the time in the car or plane… I get distracted waaaay easier though. And I’m definitely not a morning person. Kudos to all you lovely people who can actually write coherently in the wee hours of dawn. I only can do that if I stay up all night lol. I love writing in bed in the evening but for serious work (like a 10k day or editing) I must be somewhere outside of my room… But I’m pretty flexible on where that elsewhere is. πŸ˜›

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      1. Lol! Oh… it’s annoying when you read over your comments and then after its published STILL find an odd typo somewhere. I meant pantSing in the above comment. πŸ˜› Please just try to ignore my awkwardness…. πŸ˜€

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  3. Great blog post, Nate!

    I turned into a pantser when starting to write flash fiction series.
    There is no need to write in cars/planes/trains – it is more important to observe the world around. A bad habit of mine: When an idea strikes, I take out my little black book and start scribbling like mad (or take out my smartphone for seemingly hundreds of snapshots) – normally during family get-togethers or boring lunches.
    Writing in the bedroom – what for?! I love working on my big screen, at my desk way too much.

    We are all individuals with needs of our own. I would never envy writers who claim to have their best ideas while working in their bedroom. It is about authenticity, not being someone else’s copycat..

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  4. Great post. What I thinks most interesting is how each of us and our habits are truly unique. For instance I found myself agreeing with some of the things you can’t do, and completely disagreeing with others. I think we all have a strange combination going on! Just means there’s something we can learn from everyone though πŸ™‚

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  5. I do all of these besides getting up early. πŸ˜„ I’m usually up very late though. I don’t go many places, although I could still write in a car etc. I write anywhere really. I have sat on the concrete outside and wrote. And I’m a semi panster.

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  6. Although I outline, I have to leave room for improvising, because very rarely is my outline “final.” The story keeps growing and sometimes changes; I try not to change anything I’ve already written, but if the story demands it, I will go back and rewrite.

    I will also write out of order if a particular scene or chapter is one I really want to write before I lose the passion I have for it! Why wait till I get there?

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  7. Working on a phone or tablet…just no. I did once or twice, but it takes forever. I do write in my bedroom though, because it’s (sometimes) the quietest room in the house. I can’t stand writing out of order either. Or not outlining. I hate not having an outline, despite currently working on a story without much of an outline because NaNo didn’t wait for me. So inconsiderate…

    And I can’t eat as I write or outline. I’ve tried. It doesn’t go well. Except chocolate. I can eat chocolate and still stay fairly focused on what I’m doing.

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  8. I’ll use an app on my phone for making quick notes when I’m out and about or already in bed and inspiration strikes. But other than that, I either write on my computer or, more comfortably perhaps, in a notebook.

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  9. I don’t see how any writer could write out of order. I have to start at the start and work my way forward until the end of the story no matter how long it is. I write without outlines so I write like I am the reader reading it. Helps to keep the story flowing forward. I do take notes and set up a forward path once I realize I have a story to write, but most of it happens off the top of my head. Great post.

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  10. Interesting post! I’m a planster…plan part and so the rest on the fly! Only if deeply motivated (say, by a deadline) or inspiration when on the move, though. I love to people watch too much…
    I can’t write for the sake of putting words in the page and hitting a high word count, like some do during NaNo. I’m too type a to throw bad words at the page. Not that I think all my words are good, mind you, I just can’t stand knowing I’ve written crap that needs heavy editing! Thx for the post and happy trails!

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  11. I agree with pretty much all of these. I’m not much of an outliner, so I suppose you could say I’m a pantser. I write vague notes on my phone if there’s nothing else for me to write down my sudden ideas. But everything else, I am 100% the same way. Especially with having to write things in order.

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  12. It’s strange how many of these are true about me, haha. I usually can improvise with one-shots that I write just for fun, but for anything longer than that, I need a plan. And I cannot for the life of me write scenes out of order. If I do, I just end up skipping the boring parts of the story and it never gets written.

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  13. I am a pantser and while its a whole lot of fun, it requires a lot more work in the editing process. I am thinking of combining the two, pantsing and outlining and seeing what becomes of it. Maybe i will pants the first draft and then outline the subsequent drafts?

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  14. I can do all those things but work on a pone/tablet. Never tried actually.
    But I just wrote my NaNoWriMo novel with absolutely no outline whatsoever. Not even written out in my head! But, I think it works. Maybe.

    What I can’t do is write late at night. When I do it ends up sounding like this…

    “Of course, my dear.”
    “You mean it? I can really go up in the attic today?”
    “Well, your brother’s had the chance, and now you should too. Be careful though, at night the white people of my dreams come out to dance the dance of moonlight. Watch your step.”

    I get random sentences in my dialogue as evidenced above.

    Liked by 1 person

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