Nanoplans or Nanopants?

by limebirddennis

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo 2013 starts in just over 24 hours.  Every time I think about it I get a little panicky inside.  I have neither an outline nor even a name for my main character (I have a problem with that, I wrote a novel last year and have yet to name the main character).  All I have is a title and like many other pansters, precious little else.  I only decided a short while ago to even do Nano this year.  My computer can’t find my Scrivener (I‘ve decided to try it), I don’t have Word and I never got that Dragon software either.  In other words, I’m starting in exactly the same place I did last year.

That’s right, I am a Nanopantser.  I admit I was surprised to find that out.  I wanted to be organized like so many I’ve read about, plotting chapters and making character maps and making my word count every day and then some.  I began a week before and did the synopsis and then tried to think of some characters.  Nothing. I sat down on November 1st to start and soon that first sentence came to me.  Quickly pieces of the female main character began to reveal themselves and off I went – or should I say off she went.  It didn’t take long to realize that my writing was like a block party – I never know who is going to show up until they walk through the door.

I did okay without an outline. There are many scenes that I need to go back and rewrite of course, but I also wrote a lot that I really like and want to keep.  November is for writing, the rest of my life is for editing, right?

Come one come all, pantsers and plotters.  The siren call of NaNoWriMo chills the blood and quickens the heart (okay today IS Halloween here in the US).  You don’t have to have expensive writing programs or complex organizational skills (although I still think it would be very nice).  You need only something to write with and something to write on.  Believe in yourself and your imagination and join NaNoWriMo 2013.  Write a novel!   

Facebook users don’t forget to look up the several Facebook pages on Nano; they are a phenomenal support group!



I can totally sympathise with Neeks about the panic of starting NaNoWriMo with no plan; I only even heard about NaNoWriMo on 31st October 2010 so, that year, I was the ultimate pantser, not even an idea of what I was going to write!

In the years since then, I have reverted to my psychological type and have been the supreme planner.

This year I’m even luckier; I’m writing the second in a series, so I already have a series bible and my main character is already fully formed in my head. But, on the other hand, my series is not so straightforward – Book One was set in 889AD Wessex while Book Two is set in 4BC and ranges from Nabataea (Jordon) to Judea to Aegypt; so, while I had a main character, the setting and supporting characters needed a lot of research. In that, Google and Wikipedia are your friends. I now have a folder in Scrivener full of documents on each location, architecture, politics, customs, even one on Roman swear words!

That brings me to the second support for planners – Scrivener. This just has to be the best program out there for writers. I used the free trail for last year and then bought it as soon as I could. Everything a planner needs is there; virtual index cards that can be moved around on a corkboard, the ability to import pretty much anything (pdfs, jpgs, mp3s etc. etc.) into your research folders, colour coding of files and folders, project management tools, you name it and it is probably there (I have still only scratched the surface in my own use). If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo you can find the free trial here plus, if you win, you get a 50% discount on your registered copy!

My plotting is done, the research is there; now I just have to wait 14.5 hours and I can start the really fun part, writing my novel!

So, whether you’re a pantser or a planner, enjoy your writing and we’ll see you when you resurface on December 1st!



19 Comments to “Nanoplans or Nanopants?”

  1. I’m going to seriously miss it this year. I’ve done it since 2000, and on trying to enroll this year found I was banned from the site. It really sucks. Doesn’t stop my writing, but it does destroy the muse.

    • That sounds very strange! They are always migrating to new sites, so that could be the reason. If not, then do like Neeks suggested and register as a new user. But I would want to find out WHY if it was me.

      • I did go the back door with a new email and such. Hated to do that. Anyway, There are about 200 of us in our area that are having the same issue. We banded together to form our own group and web presence for the month.

  2. How can anyone be banned? Really? How does that happen?

    I will miss it this year too. Last November, I thought I’d jump in with both feet, a newbie with barely an outline. The excitement and highs and lows of each day was a blast. I learned a lot about writing that I wouldn’t have any other way.

  3. Your account was banned? How can that be? Neeks should be right: you should be able to create a new account (maybe use a new email, to be safe), but that shouldn’t stop you from participating if you’d like to do.

    I salute everyone doing NaNo this year and every year, from pantsers to planners and every writer type in between. Personally, I have three WIPs I should be concentrating on, instead of a completely new story. Though, that new story idea will continue to percolate in my head, I’m sure. Characters who grab me even a little bit prior to the airhorn start of November 1 tend to hold on with both hands. 🙂

  4. This will be my first year. I’m slow to warm up to “new” ideas. Can you tell? 😮

    I’ve got lots of backstory and a piece of the novel that I started nearly 20 years ago. I won’t be looking at that attempt, though. I took what Richard Ford said at Squaw Valley this past summer to heart: “When I started to write my novel Canada, I couldn’t look at the ten pages I’d written 20 years earlier. I am a different writer now than I was then.” So he started over. My characters remain the same, but it’s going to be a fresh start. Good luck to you both!

    • I’m doing the same (when I can get to it) for my novella “Faerie Fire”. I started it as a screenplay in 2000 and have tinkered since then, but I’m going to start the actual writing of the novella from a blank screen. Good luck with your 20 year old novel!

  5. I actually managed to gather some vague ideas for myself this year, which is different than in the past where I just sit down thinking I want to write something, but not sure what. Good luck to everyone!

  6. My body clock is totally mixed up at the moment (I don’t know why…) but I’m not complaining. I was up at 3.30am and wrote 2,093 words before I had to get started on job searching. Currently on 7,454 early on day 4.

    On a panster/planner note: for all of my planning, as I was writing I came up with a whole new section (for those who have read Book One, it’s a way ’round Shara’s mum having to find her unconscious every time she goes on a mission) and it neatly ties in with what will be the main thrust of Book Five. So you shouldn’t try and plan everything!

  7. Nice insight from the two of you, good luck to you and all the other nanoers!

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