As we enter the final week of preparation for NaNoWriMo, it’s time to make some important decisions. Tea or coffee? Music or silence? Word or Scrivener? And, of course, plot your novel in advance or write by the seat of your pants? Let’s break down these two approaches to help you make the best choice for your writing style and goals. I can’t really help with the other important decisions.
Choosing between plotting and pantsing for NaNoWriMo can be a dilemma. Both approaches have their merits and challenges. First, let’s talk about plotting. This is where you plan your novel in detail before writing. Advantages include a well-structured story and less risk of writer’s block (see my post on NaNoPrepMo Day 9: Two Basic Plot Structures). However, some writers (🙋♀️) feel that too much planning stifles creativity.
On the flip side, we have pantsing, which means writing “by the seat of your pants.” This approach lets you dive into your novel without much planning, offering more creative freedom. But beware, it’s easy to get stuck or write yourself into a corner without a roadmap. Or write a plot with no idea how it’s supposed to end… or forget you created characters and have them quietly ghost the story.
However, you don’t really have to choose one or the other; a hybrid approach is also an option. Some writers plan key scenes and let the rest unfold naturally. This middle ground is sometimes called “plantsing” and combines the best of both worlds. This is what I do by and large. I always have some key scenes ready in advance, and then try to write the in-between parts as I need them.
So, how do you decide which approach is right for you? Consider your comfort level with uncertainty versus your need for structure. Are you excited by the idea of discovering your story as you go, or are you more eager to craft something really intricate with as few plot holes as possible? Answering these questions can provide valuable insights into your best approach for tackling NaNoWriMo.