About ten months ago I wrote something about planning versus pantsing. In this article I was hell-bent-and-determined that I was a pantser and would be forever that’s just the way it is no question about it thank you very much and good night.
To recap, there are two basic camps when it comes to writing: plotters, those who plot out their story ahead of time; and pantsers, those who fly by the seat of their pants and wing it.
Well, since then I’ve managed to write a lot of blog posts (none of them really planned out to any degree before I sat down to write them), written a few odd things here or there that haven’t amounted to anything, and I’ve got within five thousand words (or so) of finishing the first draft of my first novel. What was interesting about the novel is that any progress I made over the summer was entirely due to the fact that I started mapping things out.
Was my obsession with organization and planning spilling over into my writing? It appeared so, but what did it mean? Well, for starters it meant that it’s entirely possible NaNoWriMo wouldn’t be a complete bust this year. Intriguing. But, it also meant that my excuse list for not finishing my first novel was down to a single item: laziness. Hmm.
Let’s focus on National Novel Writing Month (http://nanowrimo.org) instead of the laziness.
NaNoWriMo is upon us and this year I have a plan. Well, I have a plan for a plan. Two NaNos ago I did not even have that much. Life intervened and derailed my writing and I couldn’t get back on track. Last year, I finished but it was an exhausting effort and took more discipline than I thought I had in me. This year, now this year is going to be different. I can feel it. At a minimum I will have all the main points I want to cover written down and in some order. This way, if life intervenes and writing gets derailed at least I’ll have an idea of what’s left so I can start chipping away at it.
Naturally, I started out with the idea that I would map out this book in excruciating detail with oodles of back story and character development and all that fancy stuff, but to be honest it started to feel a lot like work and it started to resemble real life, so I scaled it back. I write because I have stories to tell, and I take a great amount of joy in crafting them on the fly. If I were to map them all out piece by piece I don’t know if I’d enjoy writing them as much as I do. I haven’t missed a week of blogging this entire year and the only plan I had was a few post subjects queued up. After that, each post came together in the moment, and it was a lot of fun.
For another novel though? Well, at least at this point in time I don’t think that’s going to cut it. Not if I want to make thirty days of writing 1,667 words a day a little less manic than it was a year ago. Even if it’s just a few bullet points that read “MC freaks out” or “Antagonist does something antagonizing” at least I’ll have something to work with.
So, whether you’ve mapped out everything for NaNo from start to finish, have no plan at all and are just going to wing it, or if you’re somewhere in between, I wish you good writing! Look for me on Twitter and Facebook for word sprints and support:
- My NaNoWriMo 2013 Facebook group. Please join!
- On Twitter @andrewbutters (and don’t forget the infamous #NaNoWriMo hashtag)
- “Row of hanged blue jeans in a shop” courtesy of foto76
- “Tired Man” courtesy of graur codrin