Some people think that writing a novel in 30 days means a TON of planning. I know plenty of planners that do just that too. They spend the whole of October getting their desk ready, figuring out outlines, and mapping out character profiles for their NaNo book. Personally I’m not quite so careful, and while I do some planning I enjoy the freedom of pantsing. I love it when a novel takes a surprising left turn. The NaNo Blog had an interesting post about how folks plan out their novels for the November writing marathon, including describing the well-known pantsing and planner methods. They also added a new method though, the percolator.
Per Sarah’s definition of being a planner, though, I realized I’m not the pure pantser I thought I was. I don’t wake up to a blank sheet of paper and dive in. It’s more like I’m a percolator. I let the drips of a story filter through my mind over a long period of time, letting it steam and swirl about without determining it.
I think it takes a mixture of all three to do a novel justice. Even while I’m writing this blog post, I’m churning over ideas in the back of my mind for the upcoming book. Personally I start out with a very loose bit of structure, because I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by a blank page. The concept of knowing how much I want to put down on paper, and the long road ahead of me, can freak me out before I’ve even begun. It’s nice to have a bit of a structure to refer back to in order to get the mental juices flowing, a lifeline in an wide, expansive ocean.
Pantsing is a requirement too, and despite the best of plans, storylines can and do go off on their own tangents. Really that’s what writing under a strict deadline is all about though. You can plan yourself into a corner far too easily, and having a looming deadline can be just the momentum you need in order to knock out the story that’s been collecting dust in the back of your mind for too long.
How do you all prepare for NaNoWriMo? Do you think a mixture of all three methods is necessary, or do you stick with your outline from beginning to end? I have to say, I’ll be astonished if someone comes on saying that they never have a percolating stage when writing. That’s what helps me get through the work day!