On Day 7, I wrote about how I’ve decided to commit to NaNoWriMo next month. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the community at all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I know, right?
In the world of NaNoWriMo, there are two camps: those who are Planners and those who are Pantsers. In laymen’s terms, those who plan their book ahead of time and those who fly by the seat of their pants and wing it on November 1st. Neither is right or wrong, it’s simply preference.
I’m a planner. I remember when I was a teen working on my first novel, having character profiles, numbered outlines, chapter summaries, the whole nine. Otherwise, I was just meandering along the pages of a story that I had no control of. Some writers take delight in a story that just goes where it may but my planner’s heart can’t do it. While I don’t have the time for all that intense planning these days, my need to plan ahead of time still calls to me as the November 1st gets closer and closer.
Dwight Eisenhower once said that “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” I don’t know the context from which he said this but it’s an intriguing thought. Planners plan because we believe that the plan is going to help accomplish a goal. But so often life gets in the way and you have to make changes and tweak your plan.
It definitely happens when you write a story. It happens when you plan your day. It happens when mapping out a large project. But while I think that the ability to go with the flow is an important one, planning fulfills an important purpose. It makes you think about the task in front of you. It makes you consider many variables, options, and angles. Planning forces you to slow down and let your mind process the possibilities and address your desired outcome.
Good planners plan as an act of engaging with life and what they want to accomplish. That way, when life does get in the way, they know how to respond, how to get back on track, and where sacrifices and compromises have to be made.
But you have to know your mode of operation. Are you a planner or a panster? Do you like lists and outlines or do you prefer to just deal with whatever comes to you? I think there needs to be a good balance between the two but you gotta know which comes more naturally to you so you know how to make that balance happen.
Whether it’s writing a 50,000 word novel, creating the menu for the week, planning an event, or drawing up your business plan, understand your MO and determine whether it’s going to serve you best or if you need to make some operational changes.