NaNoWriMo Countdown – 3: To Plan Or Not To Plan

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For many people, the only way to get through NaNoWriMo is by extensively planning their novels ahead in October. Everyone seems to have a different strategy for doing this. While three days is perhaps a little too soon to start planning, it’s still enough time to get some sort of outline prepared.

I can’t sit here and tell you HOW to plan your novel and how to structure your outline because everybody has a different, unique way of doing it. You need to sit down and figure out what works best for you. I read a book once on ‘how to write creatively’ which basically said you shouldn’t read books on how to write. In a lot of ways – although a little ironic – this makes a lot of sense.

Figure out what works best for you. Experiment with your story lines and chapters, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, no amount of planning is ever too much. That’s really the only advice I can give.

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The way I plan for NaNo may surprise some of you (especially if you’ve picked up on how obsessive-compulsive and anal-retentive I can be). You see, my plan for my novel is not to plan.

Sometimes I feel that writing out an exhaustive outline can be just that – exhausting. If you’re anything like me then you’ll equate an outline with as close as you can get to writing your novel without writing your novel. Since your novel is thus ‘quasi-written’, it can become awfully boring and dull to flesh it all out with sentences and paragraphs. I know it is for me.

I think that sometimes, dependent on how flexible you are willing to be with your outline, planning out a novel extensively can take away from the spontaneity of creating a novel worth reading. Chances are if it becomes a struggle for you to write, it will be a struggle for a reader to read.

The most planning I generally ever do is to acknowledge the end. As a writer, you have to know where the novel is going. As long as I know how the novel is going to start and how I want it to end, everything else will fall into place during the writing process. A lot of times, I don’t know how it will all tie together or how it will even progress, but eventually it all begins to become clear to me.

That, I think, is the beauty of writing. It’s as if my mind knows the novel, but I have to work and write and progress to uncover what my mind knows – which is really just another way of saying “it just came to me.”

So, for November 1st, I know where my novel will start. The first few pages, and probably even chapters, are mapped out in my head already. I won’t reach the ultimate fini during November (I generally aim for novels over 100,000 words), but I know where I want the characters and to be at the end and how I want the plot to go.

Exactly how everything is going to get there is still a mystery. But it’s my mystery. And I intend to inspect the hell out of it.

By the end, I should have something that resembles a novel and I won’t be tied down or held back by an outline. That’s more a comment on my inability to outline than it is a critique on outlining.

If planning and outlining is how you write and is what is going to get you through November, then all the power to you.

Good luck, everyone.

Let’s get ready to NaNo.

Till Next,

-Will

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Categories: Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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