I have been asked this a few times by some of my writer friends. Of course I plague them with the same question, for we are all interested in how we each approach our work.
For me, I just start writing. An idea may pop into my head to get me started, but I do not sit down and create an entire layout of a novel or short story. Once I get going though, the story seems to unfold on its own as ideas and suggestions relay themselves to me.
There are times–I admit–that I do get a vague idea of how I want the story to go, but, nine out of ten times, those ideas don’t work. The characters run the show, and if they don’t like it, it doesn’t happen.
Writing, to me, is like writing down a fantasy or fairy tale that changes day-by-day just like real life. It is complete joy to create a world full of characters and scenes that make me laugh, cry, fret, and become happy again.
There is nothing better than a happy ending, which is why I feel free to torture my hero/heroine with any kind of conflict because I know they will forgive me when their happy ending comes.
So this is how I write–usually have blind until I get what the characters want to do and where the story decides how it will go. I guess that makes me a panser, but I like to think of myself as a mix between panser and planner. (Shrugs)
Oh well. I think the more important thing to remember is that sometimes the journey is not as important as the destination, though the process of editing and revising is vital to any novel.