I don’t know if that means anything special for you, but for me that means Camp NaNoWriMo is starting. I did a post on this a while back, just before the April edition. Doing NaNoWriMo during school is usually unnecessarily stressful for me. I’m doing so much writing and reading and other stuff already that writing 1677 words every day on top of it usually isn’t feasible.
But it’s July and, although I work, I don’t have homework. Even if I’m terrible at the consistency thing, I can read and write as much as I want—theoretically speaking.
I’ve been doing “a lot” of preparation. For me, at least.
See, I used to be what NaNoers (and other writers) call a pantser. Fly by the seat of your pants, don’t plan anything ahead of time, and just go. I would get an idea, I would sit down, and I would write. Sometimes I got a lot written doing that. I’ve gotten some 30 thousand words down doing that (not in one sitting, but in one NaNo). However, I think that this pattern contributed to my inability to finish anything. Once I’d started something, I didn’t always know how to continue it, or how to connect the scenes that I’d written out already. I still have quite a few unfinished projects that I’m keeping, wondering if I can do something with them at a later point in time. Maybe I can.
For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to become more of a plotter—I’ve been attempting to plan and organize and predict before I actually sit down to write (or even as I’m writing). In terms of school papers, this has sort of worked. I think, in some ways, it’s made writing easier. My fiction is still largely a hit or miss. Sometimes, I prepare and plan and plot and nothing ever comes out of it. I have a journal with three or four plots that I just never got around to writing. Sometimes, I give up on the plot and just write, and I usually find myself in pretty much the same situation as before: I don’t know how to continue (sometimes even when I know what needs to happen next).
As a whole, I do think that plotting has helped me become a better writer. That’s just me, though. I’m not saying that plotting is better than pantsing (some people call this architect versus gardener, too), or even the reverse. I’m saying that maybe plotting works better for me.
And I’m saying that what works for you is what you should do.
But that maybe trying something new won’t hurt either. I know some pantsers find plotting restrictive, and prefer to go back and edit than to prepare for writing. I know some plotters get lost without an outline, and like having something structured to come back to. I’m not entirely sure where I fit—I need to find my own personal balance.
That’s kind of my point with this whole thing. Do what works for you. Don’t worry about what anybody else is doing.
I have my world loosely set up. I have an idea for the 9 parts of my plot structure (using two different sources to help me out). I’m trying to figure out my characters a little bit more before I get to writing—and leaning a bit on archetypes to help me out. I plan to write 50 thousand words this July. I don’t mind if I don’t finish. I don’t mind if the first draft isn’t great (in fact, I’m of the belief that any first draft can be improved). I’m going to try and post maybe weekly updates on the blog, to let you guys know how I’m doing and a bit to keep me accountable as well.
Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
What sort of preparation do you do for writing?