November is just around the corner and between stressing about what I will be for Halloween [probably whatever I can throw together from my closet], working, and not writing nearly enough, I am readying for November 1st. For those who don’t know, November 1st signals the start of National Novel Writing Month, in which you challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Sounds stressful? Well, yes, yes it is. But it’s also an amazing opportunity to get a solid start on writing. Doing NaNoWriMo the first time four years ago and completing it was my first clue that I might want to be a writer. Since then, I have completed the challenge another three times and loved it each time.
NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to get a first draft done, or at least mostly done. Assuming you’re up to the challenge, there are a couple ways you can go about putting 50,000 words on the page. In the end, it tends to come down to the age-old pantser vs. planner debate. Now I’ve done both, so here are some pros and cons of both, in terms of NaNo:
Pantsing [a.k.a. flying by the seat of your pants]
Pros: Everything is new and exciting, the story can go anywhere, you are unrestricted by outlines and only have a some vague ideas about where it might go.
Cons: The story can go anywhere, whether it makes sense or not, or it could go absolutely nowhere and you’re left staring at your computer screen 3,000 words behind and hopelessly lost.
Pros: You know, to some degree, where you’re going. You have structure to fall back on and it smooths the way when you feel lost.
Cons: The outline you so thoughtfully put together can fail, or be too restrictive and you can end up writing yourself in a corner.
Both methods have worked for me, although I’m gravitating towards a somewhat more planned out grey area between the two this year. The great thing about NaNo is, whatever you write, whether it be fantastic or awful, whether you finish or not, is a step towards a finished product. And if it’s awful, no one need ever read it.