Sunday, November 9, 2014

This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m a Pantser

I’m in the midst of my third NaNoWriMo experience. (Third!) This is the ninth day, and right now I'm on pace to finish on time. Achieving the daily word count has been relatively easy so far (did I just jinx myself? I hope not), but now that it’s closing in on the middle of the month, I’m waiting for that to change. (Remember this post on the muddy middle?
I committed to this NaNoWriMo with a concept I dreamt up two months ago. I had plenty of time to prepare an outline, write character and setting profiles and even a prologue before November 1st. However, life happened *cough* vacation *cough* and I didn’t get to it. In the days before NaNoWriMo, I had to make a decision. Should I use precious time at the beginning of November to work on and finalize an outline and profiles? Or should I try something different?

On a whim, I decided to try something different. I decided to become a pantser. Meaning I write by the seat of my pants with no outline, little preparation and only an idea of what I want the story to be and where I want it to go.

Honestly, the word pantser has always frightened me. I’m a plotter. I’m organized. I like outlines and extensive lists and detailed documents and notes on calendars. My boyfriend regularly calls me Monica from Friends for my organizational skills (and occasionally my clean freak nature). But truthfully, the plotter thing hasn’t been working for me lately. And last month, someone told me that using the method I'm not accustomed to can get me out of my comfort zone.

So I decided to try it. Armed with only a concept document (ten pages of random ideas and loose scenes), I dove into NaNoWriMo. Every day when I sit down to write, I let the characters lead the way with only a few gentle nudges on my part toward my vague idea of an end.

And I’m happy to report that being a pantser has been working for me. I’ve written 15000 words in eight days!

*raises half-full glass of orange juice* Here’s to being a pantser! May it continue to work for me.


Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried the one that’s outside your comfort zone? Did it work for you?

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