I have done Nanowrimo — or, National Novel Writing Month — five times in the past. Some years I have been a plotter, and other years I have been a pantser. For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, a plotter is someone who makes a detailed outline of their novel. A pantser is someone who writes with no plan in place. Personally, I am a pantser at heart, though I have come to find that being a plotter can help to reduce stress during an already challenging, stressful month.
For one or two of my Nanowrimo novels, I have in fact written a very brief synopsis of the plot. I have written a very short summary of what I envisioned the novel to be about. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I may choose to do a character analysis of the main and secondary characters.
But more often then not, I usually don’t. More often not, I get very impatient and excited about the very prospect of writing. Prewriting has always felt like a very boring endeavor. I have always preferred just going straight to the first draft part of the writing process.
When I do write an outline, however succinct it may be, I do feel better prepared about the task at hand. Since I know where I want my characters to end up, it becomes less daunting somehow to get them to the destination.
So, in this post, I am going to give you 3 reasons why I think you should plan your Nanowrimo novel.
1–You can participate in Preptober
If you are a plotter, then you can start on your Nanowrimo novel early. This happens in October, or Preptober. Even though there is no fancy website (at least, I don’t think), there is an entire month devoted to planning your Nanowrimo novel. This means that even though you can’t write your novel, you can plan and outline. You can dream about your characters. You can let the spirit of your novel take over your very soul, so that on November 1st, you will be ready.
2–You have less worry and stress
Some years when I decided to write a brief outline of my novel, I felt calm and stress free. I knew what I wanted to write. It was in my head, as well as on paper. Because I had a plan, I didn’t worry so much about what I would do I suddenly ran into a plot obstacle. I would just follow the plan. I would keep the objective in mind, and have the characters go toward that destination. Having a plan makes it a lot easier as I don’t have to live on the edge. I can just write what I planned to during October.
3–You know where you’re headed
If you have a plan in place, then that means that you know where you are going. You know what your protagonist’s favorite food is or what their pet peeve is. You know where they want to go and what their conflict is. You know that you have to first do this, then do that, and so on. You have to follow a series of steps to get where you need to go. There is very little deviation as everything is set in stone. You planned out your novel in October, and now you have to fill in the blanks in November with the details.
Overall, during the years that I have chosen to plan, I have felt more confident and stress free. However, during the years when I didn’t have a plan, I had the most fun writing just because there were no rules. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to write a book that you’ve always wanted to write. And sometimes it’s also nice to write a book that you never expected to write.
So, are you a plotter or a pantser?