NaNoWrimo is Almost Upon Us | To Plan or Not to Plan

Don’t panic anybody, but…


Just let that settle in for a minute. Deep breath in, and out. In, and out.

Great, now we can freak out:


Firstly, if you have NO CLUE what NaNoWrimo is, here’s the gist of it: It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and is an annual project that takes place in the month of November. The goal is to write 50,000 words before the month ends. For more info, I’ve linked there website here!

I don’t know if you guys are all mentally ready, but I know that I’m not. Do I have a rocking idea that involves a super tragic backstory? Heck yeah, I do. But has that idea been developed into something resembling an actual plan? That’d be a no.

BUT, the question is, does a writer truly need a plan? I’m serious. Last year, as I tried in vain to get to 50,000 words (when I barely grazed the 8k mark), I spent the weeks leading up to NanoWrimo bent over a notebook, writing out descriptions, backstories, likes, dislikes, sexualities, fears, hobbies, characteristics, you name it. I even did intense research for the characters’ home town (which they were going to evacuate a couple chapters in anyway). And let me tell you, when I sat down to write, I felt like a caged animal.

I’m not hating on planning. If it works for you, that’s fantastic. Maybe it even works for me, and I was just doing it wrong. All I know is, last year, I felt restricted with my outline. I felt like I couldn’t stray from the original idea without everything falling apart. I dreaded having to sit down to write those words every night. I think that it was for one reason:

I wasn’t creating anything.

I mean, yeah, I was writing. Writing dialogue, and descriptions, and thoughts, and feelings, but I wasn’t inventing.

It’s like when we get a thesis statement to write a paper on in school. There’s barely any wiggle room. I can only pick evidence from certain articles, craft commentary in a certain order, write a certain number of paragraphs. I have to pick a claim, and stick to it.

Writing creatively – and writing for myself – is supposed to be the opposite of that. It’s supposed to make me free.

When I want to get out of the world for a little bit, I sit at my computer and just let myself go, barely noticing the seconds, minutes, hours, that are passing. I just fly.

For me, a plan was like a shackle chaining me to the earth. And I couldn’t find the key to unlock myself (ooohhh, metaphor). Needless to say, I did not win NaNoWrimo last year, and I also ended up ditching, closing, and never seeing that WIP again.

But it was also my first time trying it, and I’m glad that I did. Maybe I planned wrong, maybe outlining just isn’t for me, but this year, I’m doing things differently: no plan.

No plan, you say.

NO PLAN! I say.

Now, if I think of something I want to incorporate in my novel (that word sounds so official!),  or a curve I might want the storyline to take, than I’ll most definitely jot it down. Will I still be thinking about what I want to write next in my book while I’m eating, reading, going to school, etc.? OF COURSE. And will totally still be having daily word count goals? YEP. The main point of this ‘experiment’ is to see what works for me, to just let myself write and see where it takes me. I love writing, and I never want it to become a chore.

For example, I just wrote this whole post without a plan. I just thought Hey, maybe I should do a post about the upcoming NaNo year… and this is what I spat out!

PLUS! I’m still in high school. My career isn’t riding on this. I can afford to play around with my writing style; what works for me and what doesn’t. AND, NaNo is about rough drafts! Not perfection!

I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m delving into the unknown reaches of my mind. I’ll most likely do some posts about NaNoWrimo in the coming month, and maybe post a couple short excerpts on here if anyone is interested…?  Hint: my story is a contemporary!

On the flip side, the next month is going to be interesting, and (hopefully), really, really, fun! I’ve been bouncing this idea around in my head for a while now, and I’m bursting with the excitement to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as it were).

If you’re participating in NaNoWrimo this year, leave your profile link below so that we can connect! Here’s mine!

Do you plan your NaNoWrimo journey? If so, how do you do it? What applications (Scrivener, Google Docs, Word, etc.) do you use when writing? How do you feel about NaNoWrimo this year? Tell me in the comments! 🙂

Stay bookish,



17 thoughts on “NaNoWrimo is Almost Upon Us | To Plan or Not to Plan

  1. Hi Jordyn, Great post.
    I’m a newbie on the NaNoWriMo scene. No planning as I just found out about it the day before it started, like seaofgold2012! I seem to have run out of steam and have virtually finished my story in 12000 words. Not much left to write, without doing loads more research. Any advice, you guys?


  2. I discovered this NaNoWriMo October 30 and I am in. My single goal is to write 50000 words organized into some loosey- goosey semblance of a story. No plot, no plan. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to good this time around.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey, This is my first year doing nano. I am normally a pantser but in the past this has pushed me into a corner for anything bigger than 5000 so for this I have storyboarded most of my plot but in a way that I can move around if I need to (I love sticky notes). I have added you as a buddy on the Nano website, my user name is The_Other_Sam. I really enjoyed this post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I participated in Camp NaNo the first time in July this year and I did plan all the way through and frankly, it helped me a lot but for next month I’m going to be a both of a plotter and a panster!
    I’m using Word for now but I hope to get Scrivner by next year!
    I’m so nervous yet so excited for November! All the very best for your novel. Oh and btw, I added you as my buddy (My username is DaydreamingBooks).


    1. I’ll totally add you! I don’t know if you know this, but Scrivener is having this special promotion thing, where if you’re participating NaNo, you get to use the trail until December 7 even if you download it now. And if you win NaNo, you get 50% of Scrivener if you decide to buy it. I think even if you don’t reach 50k, you still get 20% off. I just found out about this yesterday and I downloaded it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome! 🙂
        Yeah I downloaded the trial version just now but I’m kinda on a tight budget so I can’t buy it right now but definitely next year!


  5. Love your post! This is my first year doing Nanowrimo and I am TERRIFIED but all excited! 🙂 Narratives for school can get WAY out of hand so I think I’m going to be making a really basic outline just to let myself know where I’m going! I still have heaps to think about but I think I’m going to hopefully let myself feel about the book freely! I really want to know how this plan (or lack of plan 😛 ) works for you! (I’m going to be a contemporary as well! Hopefully everything will be turning out okay!) Really great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m terrified too! The closer it gets to November, the more freaked out I get thinking about those daunting 50,000 words! I’ll definitely let you know how the lack of plan works, and in the meantime, what’s your username? I want to add you XD Also, are you using Word or Scrivener I write next month?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi! This will be my first year at NaNoWriMo and I am a planner to the core, usually, so I am trying to plan a lot of things (but that’s mostly because I feel more secure this way) even if the plan is really going slow! But I am trying and I am really excited about all of it (even if I am freaking out every day a little bit more! ;P).
    I add you as a buddy, I hope you do not mind! My name on NaNoWriMo is Susy’s 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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