On Writing

Why I’m halting my NaNoWriMo novel already

It’s November 3, and I’m already stopping my NaNoWriMo expedition for this year. Not to worry, fellow writers, I’m not abandoning my project—just reevaluating.

This year, I tried to be something I’m not: a pantster. For those of you who don’t know, a “pantster” is someone who writes their novel without planning before hand. They fly by the seat of their pants, if you will.

October usually serves as time to plan a project for November for me. Although because I haven’t finished one of those NaNoWriMo projects yet, I thought I would try something different this year.

I’ve written 500 words so far, and I struggled doing it. It didn’t flow like my normal writing does. For short stories, articles, and poems, I know I don’t need to plan before. I can write, then edit, then edit again, and it will turn out just fine. But I’ve gotten to know myself a little better in the past few days, and I must admit: I am a planner, not a pantster.

So, in the spirit of being true to my own nature and committed to NaNoWriMo, I’m taking this weekend to plan my story. Yes, this side trip is setting me back a few thousand words (about 10 thousand if we’re being exact). But I know I will have the drive to write and not waste my own time if I plan.

nanoprep.jpgSo if you’re like me, and you feel like you’ve already messed up your NaNoWriMo 2016, take a breath. Evaluate what is going wrong by asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I prepared to write every day?
  • Have I traditionally written with an outline or plan?
  • Do I really want to do this?

It’s okay if the answer to question three is no. Maybe you aren’t ready to commit the time to write a novel. This has been my case for the past three years; I wanted to write it, but I didn’t actually want to write. If this is your case, take November to write daily, but work on smaller projects: poems, short stories, etc. Set a goal to write a certain number of short stories during the month. If your goal is one per week at about 5,000 words a story, then you’ve cut the daunting NaNoWriMo word count in half.

If you’ve found other issues—like I have—don’t be afraid to take a day or two off and evaluate your position. It will set your word count back, but if you aren’t reaching it daily because of these issues, it will ultimately help you accomplish whatever goal you set for yourself this November.

Good luck and happy NaNoWriMo!

-H.R. Gordon

Follow @geezitshannah on Twitter for writing musings, funny quips, and a hodge podge of cool retweets.


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