I am such a lying liar! I said I was going to fly through National Novel Writing Month by the seat of my pants, and what did I do right after saying that?
You're right. I started planning.
There are different degrees of planning, and I am happily paddling around in the shallow end. Some tenacious individuals who are chomping at the bit cannonball into the deep end and cover their walls with color-coordinated Post-Its based on character and plot threads. Others use the Snowflake method (which, people, if I ever do hardcore planning, that is the method I will use. I've semi-used it before and it really helped me wrap my head around my plot and its accompanying holes).
Other bold people such as myself do no more than a little dabbling with characters, a little poking around with plot, and a little note-taking about pivotal scenes. Honestly, I find myself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to planning.
If I plan too much, I tend to kill the motivation and drive I once had for the New! Exciting! Idea! Part of this is because once it's written down, I have a hard time deviating from an outline at which point I stomp around a little complaining that I'm bored because I already know everything that's about to happen. A small part of my brain implodes and the document goes stale like an open package of Saltines. But I always end up liking what I wrote when I go back three months later. Absence makes the heart fonder and all. (Either that or I'm humiliated by it).
On the other hand, if I don't plan enough, the first snafu I hit sends me for a loop and I stomp around complaining loudly that I'm frustrated because I don't know what's happening next. The process looks something like this:
1. I get surprised by an idea. It doesn't happen often. (Having them, I mean. I am almost always surprised by them).
2. Oo-er, is that a pesky gap in logic already? *Eyeballs plot hole* I think...yes, I--I think my arm could fit through that.
3. Three hours later....
4. I accept defeat.
In the end, what usually ends up working best for me is sitting myself in front of a blank document or notebook, putting the same song on repeat, and staying that way for an hour. This is also how I study. I think very vaguely about beginnings and endings and arcs and characters until I have a sense of what I want the reader to walk away feeling. Then I make a couple notes about characters, important scenes, unimportant scenes, and plot. I like index cards for this, or a couple sheets of notebook paper. If I know how it begins and I know how it ends (and this I feel in my gut when I've got it right) then I'm usually good to go. This was just the long way around the barn of saying I take the middleground.
If you're doing NaNo, how do YOU prepare?
If you're not doing NaNo, do you have strategies for writing outside of November?