It’s that time of year again. Where the world narrows down to one mug of caffeine of choice (coffee, tea, coke, all three mixed together?) and the words on a page, and how fast you can get them down for the next 30 days. Or, while I type this three days into the event, 27 days now.
That’s right. It’s NaNoWriMo. Or, for those that don’t know the lingo yet, National Novel Writing Month. 30 Days, 50,000 Words.
A challenge I have accepted for the last nine years.
And for the first seven of those years, I was a complete and total Pantser. Which, for me and my writing style, may be why those first seven years I really failed at finishing my 50,000 words.
What’s a Pantser you might ask? It’s someone that starts NaNo with little to no plan and just writes by the seat of their pants. Usually they have characters, maybe a semblance of an outline, but they let the characters drive the word count and just run with everything that happens. It’s a well used way of writing for some people out there.
I have found, through trial and serious error, that it’s really not my cup of tea for writing. If I don’t have a general outline to keep me on task, my characters will usually run themselves right into a brick wall, and I’ll spend the rest of my November trying to find a way to write them out of it. Which doesn’t do much for the actual word count itself because I find myself having to back track and edit in order to fix everything.
While I don’t like everything planned out to a T, I do need a serious outline in order to make sure I don’t end up at a dead end in the story. Something I can periodically check and look at in order to go yes, I am on the right track this morning. Or, no, I need to curve my kids to head toward where I need them now, because this section is taking far too long.
The last two years I was able not only complete NaNoWriMo with my 50,000 word count, but it also meant that I was able to finish a novel I had been working on for quite a long time. The novel went through two serious outline and plot revisions before it came out into a rough draft that’s currently on my editing desk.
This year I’m starting a new novel, and I’m really hoping that I can achieve both finishing NaNoWriMo and my novel at the same time.
So how about you, dear readers? Are you a Pantser, flying where the words take you? Or are you a Planner, keeping your kids on a loose leash to make sure you get where you need to go? Leave a comment and let me know!