Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Prepping and Planning

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?



  1. I'm doing it this year, and I haven't prepared anything recently. Over the summer I had a great idea for a book and I wrote down a huge summary of a lot of great ideas. Come November 1st I'm going to dig up those ideas from somewhere on my computer and try to write a book! Haha, I don't know how it will go but I want to try!

  2. I'm still trying to decide if I am going to sign up and I think I better decide really soon, like in 3 days soon!

    I like what you are doing here on your blog, you seem to be having a lot of fun. The Twilight rants are funny. I too have a shirt and button from the Dazzle Store (or whatever it is called). A friend picked them up for me (because I asked her to).

    I'm a new follower and I also have an affinity for colorful nail polish!

  3. Hilarious post! I'm loving your graphics.

    I'm not doing NaNo, but I'm planning on doing it next year. Or maybe calling December by November's name and trying it then. I'm actually a planner. I have to work out the plot, and then the scenes I need, and then take it from there. That seat-of-the-pants stuff *scares* me.