Personally, I spend a lot of time gathering data and information then reviewing and organizing that information. Once I think I've enough information to start formulating a story, I use Power Structure to create psychological make-ups and conflict within the world I am building.
I used to be a pantser -- well for just one book -- but as I continued writing, that changed.
These are some of the things that happen during the course of one day while in writing mode.
I am completely immersed, consumed by the overall story and whatever character storyline I am writing in particular -- 24/7. I spend every free moment developing that character in my head. During the day, I imagine that character as my companion alongside me all day long, whispering not in my ear, but in my soul. The character gives words to his/her feelings. I simply try to capture those words.
All the while, I am people watching, looking for quirks. I wear shades on the subway so that I don't get killed because I've been staring at someone. I have used quirks I catch people doing in situation like this and given them to my fictional characters in both my published works as well as in my WIPS.
At night, my muse, who by the way, I call "Jheri" always becomes energized just as I'm falling asleep. I then have to get out of bed or grab my iPhone to jot down notes. I can't trust myself to remember the ideas that pop into my head at moments like this in the morning. Sometimes, it's the middle of the night and I wake up because of some dream gave me an idea for something I'm working on.
And the worst thing is when Jheri's timing is off. Why wait until I'm in the shower to pop all these great ideas into my head, huh? I end up repeating the idea over and over and then thinking it through, out loud, in the shower. I am usually still mumbling when I come out. Now, that's crazy!
Some people, as children, have had an imaginary friend or more. I have lots of them -- as an adult; as a writer. That's the best way I can describe what it is like for me.
It's not crazy I can envision the world I am creating with immense detail. It is not crazy that I can tell you what the sky might look like, what the environment they live in is like, what they smell, etc.
The crazy part is that I can only work on WIPS part time at this point in my life. I worry about time passing and only having a short time left in which I can indulge my passion. I worry about potential limitations that can occur based on family health history. I worry about being trapped in a body unable to express myself or write and finally, I worry about being at the mercy of others.
So what do I do?