NaNoWriMo Prep: Becoming a Pantser

A Pantser is Born
I’m VERY excited for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m sure we all are, but I’m excited because something new has happened. Something weird and strange and entirely out of character for me. You guys: I think I’ve become a Pantser.

It wasn’t until I read Cristina’s latest post that I began to identify what had been taking place during my NaNo “prep” – for once I wasn’t really prepping at all. I wasn’t outlining and I wasn’t picking out character names or world building. I wasn’t doing any planning. I was just…ready to wing it come November 1st.

Metamorphosis
Did you guys know that scientists STILL don’t fully understand HOW a caterpillar turns into a butterfly? Seriously, they don’t. Sure they go into their cocoons, but researchers can’t quite pin-point the details of how a little worm becomes a fragile, winged creature. I’m serious (hear more about it on Radiolab if you’re interested)!

My current transformation from Planner to Pantser kind of feels like a mysterious metamorphosis, too. I’m not sure when it started happening, or HOW, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way I’ve been approaching NaNoWriMo this year.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve always considered myself to be a die-hard Planner. In past Octobers, I’ve always meticulously outlined and set up blank files in Scrivener for each and every scene in my yet-to-be-written book. And up until recently, I always regarded Pantsers as a different breed of writers. A wilder, more spontaneous kind.

But now I’m here, on October 11 – less than 20 days from the start of the biggest writing event of the year – and I have done absolutely zero planning.

Old Habits Die Hard
Okay, so I’ve done a little bit of planning. Shhh, don’t tell the rest of the Pantsers!

I do have a concept for my NaNo novel, and I have a main character in mind. I’m not running into NaNoWriMo entirely blind – I’m not that courageous! At least not yet. But these ideas haven’t touched paper.

Sorry, I don’t think you guys understand how big of a deal this is for me: I haven’t written ANYTHING down. Nothing. This coming from the woman who writes down things like “charge phone” on her to-do list just to have it written down.

Aftermath
I’m excited to see how NaNo goes with my new pantsing approach. But I’m also terrified. Will I run out of ideas or inspiration one week into November? Maybe half-way through? Will my story be full of plot holes and will some characters have no names? Will some have names I use interchangeably because I can’t remember who is who? Will my story make any sense? Will it be any good?

I’ll admit, I swaddled myself in a pretty thick blanket of panic the other day when I realized I had next to nothing prepared for NaNo yet. But I remembered by days as a Planner (aaaahh the good ol’ days) and recalled that having an outline didn’t make me feel any better about my NaNo projects. It never guaranteed that my writing itself would be good. Or that the story wouldn’t develop a bad case of plot-holes. Everyone has these worries. It’s part of being a writer.

So I’m embracing my new-found urge to start writing from scratch on November 1st. Maybe it’ll be a huge mistake. But maybe it’ll be wonderful.

~

Are you a Planner or Pantser (or a mix of the two)? Tell us about your NaNoWriMo Prep – or lack thereof –  in the comments below.

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