Camp NaNoWriMo Questions: Plotting vs. Pantsing

It’s the age-old debate. Plotters form one side of it and pantsers form the other. The two groups of writers have gathered to hold a debate to decide which method of writing is better. There’s a twist, though: the plotters have all of their arguments carefully planned, written, organized, and well-rehearsed. The pantsers haven’t prepared at all. They don’t know what they’re going to say or what arguments they’re going to make. They’re winging it.

Obviously, this debate never took place, but if it did, it would probably go exactly like that. Most writers can be sorted into one of the two groups. Summed up in a sentence, plotters know what they’re writing, and pantsers… most of the time don’t. Plotters like to start with a lot of materials: outlines, maps, character charts, plot boards with sticky notes… you name it. When they finally start the actual writing, they know what they’re writing, where they’re going with it, and how it will all end up.

Pantsers, by contrast, like to start with next to nothing (if they start with anything at all.) They start writing and… that’s just it. They write. No outlines, no characters, no plan whatsoever. They figure it out as they go. They don’t know their story as a whole until they see the finished product.

So without further ado, welcome to my new-ish hopefully blog series: Camp NaNoWriMo Questions! I say “new-ish” because I’ve done a similar series before, and “hopefully” because trying to consistently blog in the summer when I’m also trying to get ready for college is a lot harder than it sounds.

I’m also not even doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month… yet. That may change. Who knows? With two novels sitting on my desk arguing over which one of them is more important (and my Muse not showing up at all), I might just have to set some goals for myself and go for it.

Now I am pretty much a full-on pantser. Which honestly is surprising even to me. Usually I can’t stand not knowing everything, but when it comes to writing, I guess my brain works oppositely.

But… want to know something? Most writers are neither. I know very few plotters or pantsers. Most writers I know, myself included, are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. A lot of people tend to lean one way or the other, which is why we like to use these terms to describe them.

With Camp NaNoWriMo in full swing, and regular NaNoWriMo looming just three and a half months away, you’re probably wondering which method of writing is best for this particular challenge.

Okay, first, if you’re asking that question, I would like to ask you another question: why would you write any differently than you normally do? If you normally write outlines, then spend a few weeks before NaNoWriMo starts working on all your planning stuff. Then you can just focus on writing once it starts. And if you’re a pantser like me, then jump in on the first day and go crazy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world!

I love pantsing during NaNoWriMo, because it’s so fast-paced and high-adrenaline and intense, it kind of just fits. Every time I sit down with my notebook, I have no idea where the words will take me. But I also wish I was a plotter, because the idea of writing outlines and then actually having a plan sounds so inviting. (I tried that once and it didn’t work. But it sounds lovely.)

So that’s my take on plotting vs. pantsing: why change you usual writing style? Especially during Camp NaNoWriMo, when the stakes aren’t as high, and you can set your own goals? The point of these challenges is to get you to write, and what better way to write than to practice the way you’re used to?

Have a question about Camp NaNoWriMo? Or a question about writing in general? Fill out the form below and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post!

Advertisements