I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about how NaNo can benefit me if I treat it as a serious writing exercise. As I've said before, my goals are to ignore my inner editor-- as in, don't get it right, get it written-- and to focus on my perceived weaknesses in craft and characterization. It seems as though a lot of people who participate in NaNo are changing their writing habits, whether out of desire or necessity.
A strange phenomenon is the planning that occurs in the time leading up to November, before any of the actual novel can be put down. Ordinarily, I'd love this time, plotting and writing character bios and researching. But since I'm also scrambling to finish up my WiP-- don't get it right, get it written!!-- I have very little time to devote to pre-November planning. Another reason I'm glad I chose a project that already has an established story/plot arc I'll be more or less following.
But does this expectation in October turn pantsers into plotters? How many self-proclaimed "fly by the seat of my pants" writers give in to creating plot arcs or storylines, or-- Heaven forbid-- even the dreaded outline before they're allowed to type that first sentence? There's nothing I'd love more than to snuggle into a chair tonight with a notebook and some cocoa and flesh out my characters for NaNo. Instead, I'm going to be forcing myself to finish my WiP's first draft. The end is in sight for Mara's story. Which is good, because we need some space. So you can understand the allure of Hans and Greta and a new notebook right now.
In my world, there's nothing more promising than a blank notebook. I have a bit of an addiction to adorable notebooks about 5 by 7. When I first started writing, I was afraid to write in anything other than an old, half-used Mead from my grad school days, 8.5 by 11. I didn't trust myself to break in a new notebook. As if what I wrote wouldn't be worth the paper it was inked on. It actually took quite a while for me to believe in myself enough to know my ideas were worthy.
It's a little thing, but now a get a distinct thrill of expectation when I start a new notebook. A new notebook means a new story, new characters to love and torture and dream about... well, you get the picture. Nothing promotes creativity for me, and helps me get the characters and the story straight in my head like writing it all out longhand. There's no way I can sit and stare at a blank screen and wait for the story to come drizzling out one line at a time, so I applaud those who can. Instead, the smaller the notebook, the easier I find it is to face those blank pages, to fill them with worlds of words and exciting detailed character backstory.
So if any of you pantsers feel the need to get your story started before November gets going, don't forget about the allure of the new notebook. ;)
“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” ~George Orwell
I'm a YA writer who delves into urban fantasy, paranormal and romance, and who loves reading good books almost as much as writing them.
When not writing—or working—I enjoy daydreaming, drinking tea, and walking in cemeteries. I used to spend the rest of my time checking my inbox for manuscript requests, but am now proudly represented by Rosemary Stimola, of Stimola Literary Studio.