Are you a Planner or a Pantser?
Now, for full disclosure, I don't participate in NaNoWriMo. There's no need for me to. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days (November), but I've written that amount (and more) in 30 days many times over just out of necessity. It's hard. I know it's hard. I don't need to put myself through the paces when I'm not writing to a deadline... so I don't! But I do teach a creative writing course, and I use the month of November to give them in-class time to work on NaNoWriMo projects. And I use the month of October to teach them how to plot and plan their novels.
See, I'm a mean old (not really--I'm only 33) novelist who is a confirmed Planner, and as a creative writing instructor, I won't let my students "Pants" their novels. What is Pantsing? It's a newfangled term for free-writing. Don't get me wrong--free-writing is a great exercise and absolutely necessary at certain stages of the game. But I will always believe a better product comes from a well-plotted story than one written by the seat of one's pants. Can I prove this? No. But I believe there's great evidence for it in what I know of the writing methods of some of the most successful authors of all time. I also know--personally, of course--that I wasn't able to actually finish a coherent novel until I disciplined myself to start learning the craft of storytelling and until I planned them out before writing. I know the evidence is anecdotal, and every author's methods are different, but having a method to organize your mad creative whimsies is important. It would be a terrible shame if they were to all blow away on you!
So if you're planning on participating in NaNoWriMo next month, I encourage you to give Planning a try this year, especially if you've only ever been a Pantser before now. It takes some extra work on the front end, but when you get to actually start writing, you'll find the story flows so much easier, and you'll be more likely to finish that novel. If you don't know where to begin with Planning, check back for my next blog post where I'll be explaining my favorite outlining method (and using an episode of the TV show Daredevil as my example). Or you can check out the NaNoWriMo website HERE for some great tips! Happy Planning!