Some writers identify as “pantsers”, mean they write “by the seat of their pants” making stuff up as they go. This is sometimes called “exploratory writing” or “organic writing” (or one of a few other similar things). Other writers call themselves “plotters”, meaning they write outlines before they start writing their book so they know exactly what to write.
Occasionally you can hear writers get into arguments about which is better, which is “right”, or even if one or the other should even be done at all.
Personally I am of the opinion “whatever works for you.” In fact, I think 98% of us writers are truly in a gray area when it comes to pantsing or plotting. I may be a pantser, but I have plotted a rough outline in my head before I started.
There have been exceptions to this. I have started putting words on a page and then figured out where I was going as I wrote, but eventually that “figuring out where I am going” is a type of outline in my head.
And, while I know a few plotters who even plot down to which character says what in which scene, guess what? They were making it up as they went along doing that outline.
So, the truth, IMHO, is that we are all on the spectrum there somewhere, with very rare instances at the extremes. Like when someone hands you an outline and tells you to make a novelization of it, or you enter a timed writing contest where they give you the starting topic.
That said, NaNoWriMo is coming up.
Some people feel this is a time to throw 50,000 words on a page as fast as you can. No outlining, no planning, nothing. Others feel this is a time to go in prepared with an outline and see if you can get 50,000 words into it in a month. And some people like to argue about which is the “right” way to do it.
Again, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle and “whatever works for you” is what you should do.
But I would like to challenge you this year. I would like to challenge you to consider doing something different.
Are you normally a pantser? If so, I would like to challenge you to spend the next couple of months thinking about what you are going to write, and then, make an outline before you start. *GASP* I know! But, maybe, just this once, go into NaNoWriMo with an outline and see how things go. See if you write faster. See if it prevents you from “getting stuck”. See if you like it.
Are you normally a plotter? If so, I would like to challenge you to spend the next couple of months NOT thinking about what you are going to write, and then, DON’T make an outline. *GASP* I know! But, maybe, just this once, go into NaNoWriMo withOUT an outline, or even an idea (if you can) and see how things go. Will you write faster? Probably not, but see if it frees up your imagination. See if you wander into places you normally wouldn’t go. See if you like it.
Who knows, maybe this NaNoWriMo will change the way you think about writing. Maybe you’ll find a new way to write? Maybe this will be a career changing experience.
I challenge you to…