I am a pantser by nature. But on November 1, 2017, I was more prepared than I’d ever been for NaNoWriMo.
Scrivener template ready to go.
At 12:00 am on November 1st I tore into my first few words with the literary abandon NaNo is meant to engender. As the month wore on, my enthusiasm waned. I found reasons NOT to write. My heart just wasn’t in it.
Somehow, even with all the preparation and planning, I ended November 2017 with fewer words written (~10k) than I’d ever completed in a NaNo month.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always win. And I’m totally aware that any words are better than no words. But those 10k words felt like a failure.
This year, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to face NaNo again, so I put everything off until the very last minute.
I didn’t even announce my novel until Oct 31st.
I completely bypassed November 1st, afraid to start.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about until I sat down at the computer on November 2nd.
And now, about a week in, I’m much further along than I was last year at the same point. Granted, I’m still not hitting the overall NaNo goal (though miracles can happen). But the writing is coming easier. Instead of pulling myself through molasses, I feel like I’m gliding on fresh snow, leaving my joyful mark on the once-clean pages.
Is the difference that I didn’t bother with an outline this year? On the contrary, I did write an outline (on Nov 2nd), and have been fleshing it out since. The hybrid pantsing/planning model I’m going for this year has definitely made writing easier.
So what is the big difference?
I think it’s about loving my story. Last year, the story felt stilted. I couldn’t get traction with the plot or the characters. And the main character and I didn’t get along very well. However, the mistake was NOT in my planning. It wasn’t really even that I left my comfort zone, nor that I got mired down.
The mistake was that I stopped writing.
So you hate your main character? Introduce a foil to your main character who you love. Plot feels wrong? Throw in a curve ball. Or if the story is just not working for you at all, scrap it altogether and write something different.
There are so many stories to tell and we only have so much time allotted to us to tell them. So don’t stop. Don’t let yourself get in the way of your writing. Don’t let your writing make you feel bad about yourself.
We’ll see how it all turns out this year, but I fully expect to at least feel proud of myself (and my word count) at the end of the month. In fact, even though I’m only at 5k so far, I already do.
Photo of crumpled paper and wastebin by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
Photo of ‘man in blue coat walking on snow pulling grey wagon with luggages near trees during daytime’ by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash
Photo of dogs pulling sled by 🔮🌊💜✨ on Unsplash