NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 2: Shall We Dance?

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“The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” — Alan Watts

Here’s hoping it was a good writing day yesterday, no matter how many words over or under 1,667 you did. We’re still at the beginning of the process, and it’s really not terribly surprising that our steps might be just a little bit tentative at the moment. We’re still feeling out the rhythm, getting to know the characters and story who are our partner in the dance this month. Don’t worry that things aren’t perfect or your word choices might not suit the scene perfectly. The idea here is to get the words down, learn the story’s shape and discover the pattern waiting for us.

This is where my difficulty with trying to plot my story out completely before beginning to write lies. Aside from the fact that I’m beset with fears that what sounds reasonable in theory, with all the correct boxes ticked, the spreadsheets filled in, is going to be terribly dry on the page, my main concern is that I keep itching to be actually writing, to dig into the details. That’s where it all comes alive for me, when the words go straight from my brain onto the page. I will also be the first to admit that completely unguided, I’m more likely to be dancing myself off a cliff, which is why at least some planning is done before I put pen to paper.

I can’t write linearly, either. There’s always a scene or moment I’m aching to get to, and while writing out of order could me a disjointed draft or major rewrites when I reach the scene in question, writing that scene early in the process helps unlock the elusive pattern that I’m seeking. This year, I already know that moment includes the line, “I hope you sue his ass off — and if you do, I want a front row seat.” Writing that moment, for me, is the first step, the one that tells me what direction I’m going. Write that, I begin to know what to layer in, what my protagonist is hiding or denying or struggling against. It is, in ballet terms, First Position.

That’s the big difference between Pantser and Plotters. Plotters can “see” the flow much better before it’s ever committed to paper. Pantsers have to discover that flow and there can be some blind alleys along the way. Neither method is more superior than the other, as long as you understand how your process works for you. Even if you were to put two Plotters next to one another, they wouldn’t work in quite the same manner. And there is the beauty of the dance we do. The way we write our stories is as unique to us as the stories we tell. We just need to learn what the best steps for are for us.

Now, let’s dance.

Word Count Goal: 3,334