Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Seven Days til NaNo Can Change Your Life

In writing on October 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

You know, being the pantser* that I am, I’ve managed to surprise myself these last few days. And that, in itself, is saying something. It takes a lot to surprise a pantser.

Let me explain:

With NaNoWriMo still being seven days away, and with me already having decided on my story and not wanting to lose any of the plot that’s coming to mind (and seeing how you’re not supposed to begin writing your actual novel until the gun fires) well, I’ve actually done a bit of outlining. Outlining! Yes! Me! And you know what?

I love my outline!

Granted, it’s extremely loose and resembles a worn-out, moth-eaten, shot-through hockey net. But an actual outline IS there, even if just barely. Some of the threads are holding! And I’ve fallen for those threads. They make me want to cry. I’ve never had this experience before, thus my surprise. (Am I crazy? Plotters, please tell me.)

My main reason for joining NaNo this year was to face my fear: My fear of thinking I’ll fail the challenge because of my obsessive revising tendencies. Fear of not being able to move forward at a pace that will reward me with 50,000 words at the end of 30 days. (Gah! That thought still makes my heart stop!) But I decided to do it anyway; decided to channel Hemmingway and with him declare, “The first draft of anything is sh*t!” And be okay with that. I’ll be okay with that and I’ll try my best to get my word-count in. And I’ll be a better writer because of it. Either that or I’ll be driven to drink.

So, I’ve already reaped an extra benefit from doing NaNo, and it hasn’t even officially started yet. Not only will I (hopefully) enjoy the experience of bulldozing my need to revise as I write, I may never again be afraid of outlining. (Geez, I sure do have a lot of writing hang-ups, don’t I?) I’ve already experienced the joy of having an (almost) outline, something I never thought was possible. I always thought the only way for me to write was to dive right in and ask if there’s any water later. (Most times there’s enough water. Other times … ouch!) But not being able (allowed) to start writing immediately, and having no choice but to wait and write down my ideas so I don’t lose them has resulted in something amazing. I actually have a foggy idea of where I’m headed!

Huh. Who woulda thunk that could be a good thing? Not this pantser.

*pantser = one who writes by the seat of her pants

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  1. That’s wonderful Claudia. As a former pantser myself, I find that outlining has become my life line as of late. I now have a process that I use for every book:
    1) Meet my characters
    2) World build
    3) Make some pictures of my settings
    4) Get to known my characters further
    5) Figure out at between 5 – 10 stops on my characters route to “the end” (aka plot points)

    And all this I learned while trying to come up with something worthy of NaNoWriMo.

    I’ll be right there with you this year too. I’m currently working on step 5 of my outline and I’ve got 7 days to get it all ready to go. So excited that you are taking the leap into NaNo this year. You won’t regret it*.

    * even if you don’t win, it’ll be a learning experience like you’ve never had before.

    • Yes! I’ve realized that my natural bent is still okay and that’s how I’ll probably still accomplish most of my writing, but it’s also okay to learn/add something new to the writing mix. When we stop learning, that’s when we get in trouble. Pantsing between plot points will be my new motto! For NaNo, anyway 😉 Thanks for the comment, Tina.

  2. I know how you feel! I was a pantser until I started taking a class, for which I have to submit an entire outline for a novel. Enter panic attacks. (I’m exaggerating a little bit, but you know what I mean.) So I started working on my characters, and my plot points, and I think I might actually like outlining! Who knew?

    I’ll see you in NaNoLand!

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