NaNoWriMo update -pantster vs.plotter

So far I have written a little over 20k words on my new novel since the 1st November and the start of the National Novel Writing Month challenge for 2017.

When I wrote my first novel, I just sat down at the keyboard and started ‘at the beginning’. I had absolutely no idea what would happen and it was wild and exciting and as author Ian Rankin has said about his approach, the ‘flying by the seat of ones pants’ meant having the most delightful surprises when my characters did unexpected things. Only once did I lose my way - I sat in front of my keyboard in a state of absolute panic. I had no idea what to write next. I took inspiration from one of the NaNo writing prompts - ‘kill off a character you cannot possibly kill’ it said - and so I did, and from that point the word count flowed and I ‘won’ (in the terminology of NaNoWriMo) the 50k word target way before the end of November 2016.

For my current novel I have plotted. Some might say obsessively. I have a time line. I have character profiles rich in detail for all my main characters. I have over 60 ‘scene’ cards planned out in Scrivener which may not eventually appear in their current order in the final edit, but do give me a very clear starting point at the beginning of each writing day. I even have my writing time planned out in my calendar with minimum word counts scheduled. Last time I did NaNo I grabbed whatever time I could when I could and typed away until my fingers hurt or I just needed SLEEP! So many very late, late nights in 2016. Not this year though…

However, I am not enjoying this project so much. It feels appropriately committed. I am developing a sustainable writing process, I am being disciplined, I am evidencing commitment to my writing and the development of my writing skills but it is not quite so much fun as creative storytelling can be. The story I am happy with (generally) but the structure of writing feels as if i have given myself a burden. Hugely successful writers (Stephen King for example) have developed their processes over time. King writes every day - birthdays and holidays included and that is his process. I guess I am still working out the right process for my creative writing.