Preptober// 8 Things To Do Before NaNo Starts

Oh hey there

 

 

 

This post was originally written by me for a site called Sprint Shack that I used to write for back in college, I asked if I could use this post because it had a lot of really good points and helpful tips, and Cristina said it was totally fine! So here we go!

 

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves start to fall, the crisp air bites at your cheeks and all of the coffee shops are full of the smell of pumpkin… and crazed over-caffeinated writers preparing for the impending storm. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but for people like me, this is the month of readying yourself for the battle against a novel that seemingly never wants to be written. Ideas for stories or novels swarm my brain on a regular basis, but as soon as NaNoWriMo is in arm’s-reach, it’s like they go into hiding.

There are millions of things we suddenly remember while NaNoWriMo is in progress that we wish we would have thought about before–or, at least, that’s the case for me. So I took it upon myself last year to keep a little ongoing list of all the things that I should have done before NaNoWriMo started. Here are some things you can think about or start working on now to have a more productive November.

Find Character Inspiration and Names: 
We all know the struggle of character naming in the heat of the moment. Even if you are a “pantser” at heart, you know the time that building a character can take away from your word count. So why not do some minimal planning and figure out your characters before you have to stress about them?

Create/ Brainstorm your Cover Art:
If you are anything like me, you know the pain of going onto the NaNoWriMo forums and seeing all the beautiful cover art all ready in the signatures of all the eager and prepared Wrimos. You try to ignore them, but in the back of your mind, every sentence you write is backed up with an unbearable longing for your own cover. For me, it was my greatest downfall and distraction in the first week of last year’s festivities, and I will definitely be working on mine before November this year.

Research your Genre and Take Note of Any Applicable Conventions:
This is a great thing to do, especially if it is your first time writing within this genre. Knowing the conventions or other common features of your genre will really help you get in the groove, and it’s one less thing you will need to research when you get started.

Do the Math, Plan Your Numbers for the Month:
If you are a student or work full-time, you will need to work around your life’s schedule to win NaNoWriMo. The lovely word count tool on the website will try to tell you that you need to write roughly 1600 words a day, but for some people that’s simply not doable. So go through your schedule, find the best writing days, and try to amp up your word count on those days. This is also good if you suffer from chronic stress and need to give yourself a little break once or twice a week from novel land. If you need a few days off, just calculate that into your weekly numbers and make sure that you can make up for them on another day. The biggest part of NaNoWriMo is keeping a steady pace and making sure you take care of yourself and life outside your novel, as well.

Book Some Days Off for Catch Up or Damage Control:
This one kind of ties in with the last tip. Slipping and falling behind is pretty easy to do–life happens and you can’t expect the world to stop for NaNoWriMo (not yet at least). If you can afford to do so, I highly recommend keeping at least one day near the middle and end of the month dedicated to catching up. I personally keep a few days closer to the beginning of the month to get ahead so that I can focus on all my duties as a Municipal Liaison, and that works best for me.

Figure Out Your Goals and Rewards:
I’m a big believer in setting goals and planning rewards for when goals are achieved. If you are someone who finds themselves unmotivated often, then you should definitely set multiple short-term goals and rewards, such as for every 10,000 words written. But if you just need that one big push to get to the end, give yourself one big end goal and work towards that. Every year my reward is a winner shirt for the year and a big celebratory dinner with all the friends that had to put up with crazy-NaNoWriMo-me.

Prepare Your Inner Editor:
I want to talk more about this in a later post, but for now, I am going to explain what you can do to get ready for your novel frenzy month. Any seasoned Wrimo knows that the biggest word count killer is your inner editor. That little voice in your head that moves your fingers to that backspace button, makes you read back 8 pages, or convinces you to delete whole chapters. You need to start training yourself to fight against that little voice. I have some tips and tricks to help you beat it once and for all, but right now, you can start by practicing the ever so simple mantra “write now, edit later.” It will seriously change the way you write anything and everything. There are settings for you to turn off your word-processors editing tools if that helps you at all, but just start practicing, I promise it will make a huge difference.

Clear Your Workspace and Computer of Distractions:
Nothing is better than a well-organized workspace. All your references in order, the perfect little spot for your coffee… it all helps everything flow better when things are in place. I always make sure to clean up my computer while I’m in the cleaning mood. I hide all the distracting files or games in a folder and flood my desktop with motivational quotes and inspirational images or references. It’s really helped me out when I am looking around for something to distract myself.

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo? Will you be trying any of these tips this October? Let us know!

mazie bones

Preptober// What is NaNoWriMo?

Oh hey there

I realized about halfway through my last preptober post that I hadn’t really explained exactly what NaNoWriMo is. So just in case you have just stumbled upon this post and have absolutely idea what it is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge that encourages writers to stop procrastinating and just write the first draft of their novel. The idea is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. There is a website where you can get involved with the official community, where I personally have made so many amazing friends.

So a traditional NaNo is considered to be a month where you write a 50,000-word novel, but there are rebels out there that don’t like writing novels (like me!) There are people that write poetry, screenplays, multiple short stories, blog posts, business-related writing, and even consider their freelance writing to be writing for NaNo. Last year I counted any blog post I wrote into my word count because I was so busy and it was either write 2000+ words for my story or write a couple blog posts a week. It all ended up working out in the end, but personally, I feel like rebelling from the tradition of novel writing can actually be more difficult sometimes. It’s hard to keep track of word counts, especially if you don’t use Scrivener.

50,000 words can definitely seem taunting! Especially if it’s your first time participating but it’s important to not get overwhelmed or discouraged. Try not to fall behind too much and if that number scares you, just break it down into sprint sized numbers.

50,000 words in one month

Overall, NaNoWriMo can definitely be stressful, especially if you are already a super busy person, or writing for a living, but it has the most amazing and supportive community that thrives on motivating others to meet their writing goals. So if you stay on top of your goal with these little baby steps of 417 words, 4 times a day, I have no doubt in my mind that you will be able to win this year. It’s not too late to start planning now.

If you do sign up to participate, feel free to add me to your buddy list, my username is MazieBones.

Let me know if this has peaked your interest! I’d love to know if my post has inspired someone to start the challenge!
mazie bones

Prep-tember//Asking Why

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I’m super excited about this post, as its the first post to kick off my Preptember Writers Series! This topic has been one that I’ve been pondering for a while now and it all kind of started on our car ride home from vacation. For a while now, my partner and I have been kind of jokingly pulling together this plot of a book that neither of us planned on writing. I want to say that this ongoing joke started in the beginning of our relationship and it’s just been growing and getting more and more ridiculous the more we brought it up. But when we embarked on our 7 hour drive home from Magnetawan we eventually ran out of road trip games to play and we slowly transitioned into talking about our plot idea but in a more serious manner.

The longer we drove, the more real the story seemed; it became something kind of possible, and kind of awesome. So we have kind of decided to collaborate this idea. He isn’t a writer, so I’ll be doing all of that, but his skill with plotting and storyline is kind of remarkable. It really is a gift. Which is kind of what inspired me to write this post about asking yourself or your characters “Why?”

As we went on developing our story, I kept asking him different questions, but most of them were starting with “Why?” Why are they fighting? Why do they need to get there? Why are they running? Why is she alone? Why a giraffe? 

Whenever I asked why I was worried that he would get defensive of his story, I was worried that asking why would seem like I was challenging the ideas, but that wasn’t the case. Whenever we asked why we opened up the floor for some of the best reasoning and discussions. The other questions worked but none of them produced conversation like our “Why” questions. I think that asking why is a question that challenges a plot, and as long as it’s yourself or your beta-readers challenging your plot, I think it’s fine. you should be able to defend your plot, but more importantly, you shouldn’t have to.

So as a way to avoid having to answer questions later, answer questions now, while you’re writing, or before you even open that new idea.

What I wish we did was record that discussion, because we would have had 2 hours of the purest plot details and background information that we could possibly get and we might not ever have those true and blatant answers ever again, which is fine, we’ll get there eventually, but it was such an amazing conversation.

Another thing that I learned about myself as a writer while discussing this plot with Drew, was that having a partner or friend to sound board off of, or having someone to ask or answers questions with is SO helpful. If you have a friend that you can confide in and trust your ideas with, I would definitely recommend having a little Q&A!

 


What is your favourite question to ask yourself or your characters? Do you find asking questions helps you develop your plots, or does it take the fun out of it for you?

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Prep-tember posts in the future,

mazie bones

 

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