I’d really like to do more regular features like the great resources post last week. However, as you read this, there are only two days left until the end of October at that means NaNoWriMo is looming like a big dark word-filled cloud about to rain stories upon the world. Are you ready?
Your feeling of readiness may well depend on what type of writer you are. Broadly speaking, when talking about NaNoWriMo there are three types of participant: Planners, Pantsers and plantsers. Planners like to go in with a detailed plan. Character sheets, scene breakdowns, even maps or ‘blueprints’ for settings and locations. Planners are detail people, organisers, control freaks. Pantsers are to polar opposite. A pantser goes in all guns blazing with nothing more than a vague idea. And sometimes not even that. Pantsers are impulsive fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types, inspired by the adrenaline of the unknown and undeterred by the blank page. That leaves the ever expanding fraternity of the plantser and we sit somewhere in between. I say we because I have tried it both of the other ways and know now that I’m somewhere in between. Plantsers really want to be planners but they aren’t afraid to go into an adventure unprepared. Plantsers can also be Pantsers that just feel a bit more secure with something, anything, prepared. We don’t want to go in with a full-on plan, because we don’t need to be tied to structure, but we feel a little more comfortable when we have a half-inflated life jacket.
Which is the right way? It’s entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to write a novel and there are advantage and disadvantages to all three approaches. Last year, when I completely pantsed my novel, I wrote thousands of words that I’m going to cut from my final draft and thousands more that will be almost entirely rewritten. Howev, when I planned a couple of years before that, I went completely off track about two thirds of the way through and almost didn’t have enough to reach 50,000 words. The danger of pantsing is that you waste time on rubbish that ends up unusable, while the danger of planning is that you miss the marvellous creative unexpected gems that work in your story, gems that you didn’t write because they weren’t in your plan. It’s easier to motivate yourself through the tedious middle of the month when you have a plan, but you run the risk of falling short of word count and have nowhere to go.
Whichever you are, you only have a couple of days left to pull your pants on, or make your plan, or plant those ideas. And this is, as far as I’m concerned, the most exciting bit. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the writing experience of NaNoWriMo, but there’s something special about the last few days of October when the tension and anticipation begins to build. By this time, I’ve been thinking about my characters and my plot and I’ve got a few ideas about at I might write. I’m wondering if I’m going to make it this year and how it’s all going to pan out and I’m also wondering where my characters will take me, because they always take me off at some weird tangent I didn’t expect. I’m looking ahead to November and thinking “Bring it on!”.
At this stage, whatever your approach, I hope you’re where you want to be and you’re as excited as I am. All that remains is for me to wish all my fellow Wrimos the best of luck this year. I’ll see you on the caffeine addled, sleep deprived other side.