Pantsing My Planning

I seem to have a tendency to plan on doing Camp NaNoWriMo during both available summer months, and then only participating in the second month. Last summer it was August, and this summer it will–hopefully–be in July due to calendar changes within the Office of Letters and Light.

But this post isn’t about my inability to follow through on summer noveling marathons, or even the bad timing of said marathons where real life was concerned. This post is about pantsing. Sort of.

As I mentioned in my post “Trying Something New” , I mentioned being bitten by the new idea bug. For months I’ve been obsessed with telling and re-telling parts of this story in my head. I have names and functions and motivations for the necessary characters, and I have two great settings and an awesome beginning. It was my intention to draft as much of this MS as possible during July Camp. Key word being ‘was.’

Between the making of that decision some two or three weeks ago and today, at the end of June with Camp three days away, I’ve been forced to rethink that hasty, inspiration-fueled choice.

You see, I’m a devoted planner. I need at least some semblance of an outline to get anywhere, as well as a handful of possible plot points and some kind of ending to work toward. When I sat down to actually outline about a week ago, I got through about nine chapters of potential materials before realizing two things. One, almost all of it was pointless and led nowhere, and two, that I had no idea what happened next.

That’s right. None. Zip. I can’t remember the last time I’ve walked into a manuscript without a central external and internal conflict, or at the very least AN ENDING. And yet, I didn’t even figure out why I was having so much trouble right away.

When I got tired of staring at my computer screen, I grabbed a packet of lined paper left over from the days of homework, and sat down to see if I couldn’t hand write my way through my writer’s block. Nope. No luck.

Two days ago, utterly brain-dead and fed up, frustrated with the idea that I was going to have to skip my second Nano Camp session of the summer, it hit me that my issue wasn’t block at all. My issue was a complete and utter lack of knowledge.

Without a basic plan for what would happen to the major characters, what they would struggle with, and fight over, and work toward, I couldn’t do anything. Since then, I’ve wondered if the story I’d been mentally writing for myself simply hasn’t translated well to the page, but at the same time I’m not sure I believe it.

What I have isn’t a great story but a great idea. I’m fond of that idea, but its potential just isn’t there yet. It’s a seed that can be grown into an adventure worth telling. Unfortunately, that seed will probably take a lot of watering and sunlight and time before I can do much with it.

So, where does that leave me and Camp Nano? I still intend to participate, but instead of drafting a new project at high speed, I’m going to push myself toward something else that should’ve been finished a long time ago. I’m going to get as much of the rewrite done for Facing the Music as I can. I’m still not a pantser, but I’ve been pantsing the most important piece of all: my choice of project.

Soon enough you all will find out exactly how this rewrite is going to work, as well as what inspired it. But that’s a whole other blog post. 🙂


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