In preparing for NaNoWriMo, I have stepped outside my normal writing-mode, and attended a “plot planning party” put on at an area library.
“What?” you all ask, “I thought she was a barfer?”
Yes, it’s been well established I normally do not plan, write outlines, or even think about plot; rather, I sit down at the keyboard and let the characters lead me by the hand into the fairy-tale forest of my lavish imagination. I find that at the end of it all, a story has emerged that is engaging, perhaps even pithy, because my characters brought me to it.
But, for NaNoWriMo, I thought I might need to break from that in order to write 50,000 words in a month. So, I attended the Plot Planning Party.
I enjoyed the snacks. I ruffled through the wonderful array of reference and inspiration books the local NaNo liaison brought (found a wealth of Gaelic names I could use for my characters—I mean, who uses Gaelic names? Who even really knows what area of the world I’m talking about when I say Gaelic?). I listened to inspired young and old people discuss their ideas, or more frequently, their snacks.
Yet, despite the fact I stayed for a couple hours, I did not emerge with a plot. In fact, what I came away with was a book entitled, “No Plot, No Problem!” written by the NaNoWriMo founder himself, Chris Baty. I highly recommend it whether you plan to do the ridiculous thing of writing a novel in one month or not; he’s hilarious. He also has a way of inspiring you to follow your muse. He beseeches you to not try so hard that you quash all creativity. He implores you to ignore your inner critic who is telling you that what your imagination is spilling out, is garbage. He encourages you to go ahead and jump into writing with both feet whether you think you are “prepared” or not. My kind of guy.
So if you’re hesitating to engage in the world-wide, collective insanity in November because you’ve no time to plan in October, don’t. Just put butt in chair on Nov. 1st, and let your characters spring fully-formed from your head like Athena, then follow them for the ride.