I started writing my series on Book Two. I didn't know at the time it was going to be a series. A few chapters in I realized I didn't really have the main character's voice, so I decided to pause on the novel and write a short story to get to know him better. That "short story" is 130k into the first draft, and as the supporting characters started to talk and add their ingredients to the soup, I found out that there is story that needs to be told to get to Two, so what began as "a book" is now Book Three of what will be a Quintology. Probably.
"Pantsing" (i.e. writing by the seat of your pants) is no less valid a way to write than any other, easily illustrated via a quick google search. The specifics of how, why and what are up to you. There are no rules to writing. Are there pros and cons? Of course. Don't sweat them in this case though, because you'll figure it out as you go, and one of the advantages is its fluidity. The story tells itself, or perhaps better: the characters tell their own stories.
But if you're like me, I still need a roadmap.
So throughout my own writing journey of 180k words in my series, there is another 45k of planning: timelines, character histories, research topics, etc. I also found now and then that I would get overwhelmed by the tedium, or worried that I was "overdoing it". (I realized there is no such thing, btw, you will naturally put in as much work as you need, and don't let anybody tell you that you need more or less.) But there was a simple fix for that: When you get bored, switch gears.
Because boredom is the death of a story.
If you don't enjoying telling your story, then your readers won't enjoy reading it. Full stop. This is not to say that writing is easy, but the work of it should be gratifying despite the inherent tedium and monotony. It took me six months and at least a dozen tries to write a chapter where I was struggling to describe an operatic song to the reader. After three or four failed attempts, I considered ditching it completely; this is too hard, I'm just not good enough a writer to do this. Whenever it got too tedious, I just stopped writing that selection, only returned to it when I felt ready for another try, or new inspiration struck. It honed my workflow and ultimately made me a better writer. And the beauty of it is that the reader will never know. They'll read right through it smooth as butter.
Because writing a book is not specifically a linear task.
Write three chapters ahead so that you can go back and foreshadow properly. Move chapters around if you need to. Add some. Remove some. Or characters. Or books. The sweet spot I think is when your characters start telling you their story, and when that happens, your job is to listen to them and be their voice. I would go so far as to say that if you're writing linearly, you're likely missing opportunities. And if you did manage to plan out an entire series to the letter before you start writing prose, you'd probably be the first person who's ever done it. :)
That might be an exaggeration. Planning is no less viable than pantsing, and I am a character writer moreso than a plot writer. But no matter; at the end of the day:
- Never mind the rules
- Make up your own
- Break or change as needed
- Enjoy your book