If you haven’t yet figured out that I’m a huge evangelizer and participant of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) then you haven’t been reading the blog for very long. I love telling people about the challenge and urging them to join me in a crazy month full of literary abandon.
What I don’t usually love is planning my story in advance. I’m a bit notorious in my region for not having my idea until the very end of October (sometimes even Halloween). This year I’m trying something different. I’m going to follow along with the regional prep workshops to try to get my idea together over the next week, so I’ll be ready for the plot and character workshops after that.
I’m going to try to have a clear idea of not just the vague ending, but major plot points on the way there. I’m even going to try to sketch out characters in advance. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do all that, but I’m sure going to try.
This year probably isn’t going to be a very formal outline and it may be written down in a journal, in pencil, to make it feel less permanent and more open to the changes I discover through drafting. But maybe It will be a digital draft because that’s malleable and interactive and I could have version control. I’m still working on the details. It shows how much part of me dreads this that I’m focusing on the actual mechanics.
I have a lot of friends who are plotters, and I plan to ask all of them how they usually do it and what kinds of structures they like for their outlines and what methods they prefer. Maybe some year I’ll try the snowflake method, which is supposed to be so in depth and so detailed that you end up with two thirds of the book in words before you even start the first draft. I think that might be a bit too intense for trying out my first attempt at planning in a long time.
I’m not averse to planning generally, in fact I’d much rather plan ahead in most other aspects of my life. But there’s something about having a written outline that paralyzes me. Not having the freedom to run off on a tangent and completely change the story dries up a lot of my creativity. Or at least that’s what it’s always felt like. I’m trying to have a more growth mindset about the entire process and see if maybe I can draw the right things from the right part of the process and find a better, more efficient, more enjoyable way to write.
Not that I don’t enjoy drafting. I definitely do. It’s more that I’m hoping this will help me have to do less revision and thus enjoy the entire writing process better. I’m not a fan of revision. It’s hard work and it takes a lot of time and I’d often rather chase after a new shiny idea than follow the old one back to its lair so I can remake it.
I’d love to hear how other people are prepping for NaNoWriMo, or even just your favorite plotting resources and strategies.
Here’s to a productive month of planning for all of us!