Preptober// 8 Things To Do Before NaNo Starts

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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?

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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

Preptober// Planner, Pantser…Plantser?

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I am super excited to be starting my first Preptober series on this blog! In the past, I have done guest posts and other Preptober publications, and this month I’m going to be gathering some of those posts to put here. I’ve been an ML in my region for 3 years now (I’m going to write a post about this), this will be my 4th and during my time in this position, I have loved observing and learning for tons of different kinds of writers. So as a first post I decided it might be beneficial to discuss one of the most used, and most confused set of terms in all of NaNoWriMo: Pantser, Planner, and Plantser. 

 

pantsher_badgeA pantser is a writer that goes into NaNoWrimo with absolutely nothing. No preparation, no planning, no outlines, and sometimes even no idea what they are going to write. They write as they go and that’s what they prefer.
I have tried to pants it before, and though I still won, it was the most stressful experience ever, and I don’t think my personality type benefits from that kind of lack of preparation.

planner_badge
A planner is a writer that will stay up all night thinking about their novels, they will outline, and plan and plan and basically craft their novel into a math equation! (This is me by the way) Some people just need the blueprints. Planners are organized, a lot of the ones I know have binders of notes in categories for their novels. If you write fantasy, planning is your best friend, in my opinion.

 

plantser-badgeAnd here is the new one! THE HYBRID PLANTSER!
This writer is a happy medium of both living in the moment and living in a premeditated preparation plan. Not obsessively planned out but not ill-prepared, these writers tend to be cool and collected and they kind of just go with the flow. Many that I have seen in my region end up writing completely different novels than they thought they were going to, and that’s totally fine with them!

Overall, it doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are, just as long as you write and keep true to what makes you comfortable! I will tell you this though! Find a mixed group of wrimo types to write with! You should not just pick a writing community of wrimos that are all planners if you are a planner! The variety will actually save your life during November and it will keep everything super interesting for you. There will be less of a chance of you getting stuck in that mid-month RUT! Which is going to be another post in this month’s series!

I hope this helped, let me know in the comments below what kind of wrimo you are!

mazie bones

october: small goals

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Let me tell you, it has been an absolute ride this month. A strong start, a big loop in the middle and now another amazing start for this month! If you follow me on social media, you may have heard that I got a new job! I haven’t shared much about it publically yet, because I plan on doing a post, but I’m very excited about it, it’s all falling into place and I seriously couldn’t be happier.

So here is how I did in September!

September Goals:

Portfolio: I was offered a pretty awesome job near mid-september and I just completely fell out of portfolio mode. Its definitely being migrated to this month AGAIN.

Prep-tember: I’m going to do a round up post of all my Prep-tember posts but if you liked those posts, you’re going to love all the Preptober posts I have planned for this month!

Outline my NaNo Novel: I started brainstorm more scenes but I didn’t actually write any of the outline down. Which is not very productive. Thats what this month is for though right? RIGHT?!

Print My Zine: I have successfully written and illustrated a whole new zine, but neither of them are printed yet for some reason. I need to sell some during NaNo though since I won’t be working as much, so it’s definitely a priority!

Blog Every Week Day: I was doing really well up until Navi’s vet adventures that I wrote about here. I tried to redeem myself a bit in the last week of September but it wasn’t the best attempt! I got all the important posts I needed to get up though! So that’s a thing!

No Spend: I killed it this month on the no spend! No slip ups, I didn’t forget once, I was super mindful about what I was spending! On October 1st I rewarded myself with a beautiful Luna the Cat Backpack! When it arrives I’ll be writing a post about it!

October Goals:

Inktober and Vlogtober: This month I’m doing the Inktober and Vlogtober challenges over on youtube. At the very least I want to do what ink drawing each day, my expectations are a bit lower for the vlog challenge but I’ve been doing okay so far!

Preptober: As I mentioned before I have a huge Preptober series planned for this month. I’m a NaNoWriMo ML and prepping my novel now is super crucial for my wellbeing in November!

Affiliates/PR/Sponsorships: Last month I became a part of a whole handful of new affiliate programs and I really want to create some kind of routine on getting my links out there on my Pinterest and in posts and whatnot, so I’m going to try to up my game a bit on that front. I also want to find more programs that pay per click instead of sales.

Portfolio: Migrating this task over from September! Kind of rolling my eyes at myself right now!

More Quality Time: I want to focus on spending more quality time with my loved ones. Things have been super hectic since we got back from vacation and the next couple months are going to be absolutely insane so I really want to set aside some time each week before the weekend to get some good quality time in with Drew and our little fam!

No-Spend: This month on the no-spend list are the usual suspects. No books, no MORE bags ( I bought that backpack on the first of the month with the intent of not buying any other ones until I can get rid of a few.), No yarn unless it’s specifically for a Christmas gift!

What are your goals for the month? I’d love to hear some of them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,
mazie bones

September: Small Goals

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In my last post, I kind of spoke about some of the things that I plan on doing in September but I felt that it might be a bit more beneficial if I post my goals publically, for all that accountability and what not! So Here are the goals I had written down for August and my progress with them!

(Disclaimer: This post will contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a few cents if you click on a link or make a purchase through a link posted here, with no additional cost to you! I appreciate the support!)

August Goals:

Finish Unpacking:  In July, my partner moved into my apartment, and since then there has been a constant stream of plans, events or just road blocks keeping us from unpacking all of his stuff. So I set a goal to find time to finish getting him all settled in! There is at least one more Ikea trip to go before we’re completely organized but at least everything is out of boxes!

Cozy bones Instagram:  I made a goal to post more on Instagram, and a goal to get to 200 followers! I got to 215! A fair jump from 80 followers in July! My next goal is 35o, but I’m not making that a monthly goal.

Label my part of the office: I got a bunch of craft cubes for our shared office, the ones you can see in my workspace tour. Up until that tour, they were labeled with sticky notes, so I needed to upgrade it a bit! It’s been on my task list for at least 3 months.

Complete the zine: I’ve had my zine planned for about a month now, and I finally sat down and wrote it out! I’m excited to share more about it in the next couple of weeks!

Start Couponing again: Now this is kind of a half and half win for me. I didn’t start hardcore couponing again, like the whole clipping and price matching dealy that I used to back in the day. But I did log back into my PC Plus account, but more importantly, I signed back into my Checkout 51 for the first time in a couple of years! I completely forgot how fun it was to use this app! I’ve already got $15 on the app, and a little bit more processing after my grocery shop from today! I’m a bit too excited about it, to be honest, I keep asking Drew if we can go grocery shopping again. If you haven’t checked out the app yet, you definitely should! It truly is remarkable the savings you can find!

Checkout 51 Home

No Spend: At the beginning of the month I wrote down a list of things that I wasn’t going to allow myself to buy. The list consisted of books, makeup, bullet journal supplies, yarn, and purses. I’m proud to say I spent money on none of these things last month!

September Goals:

Portfolio: I need to set up my portfolio page, it’s currently just sad and empty and it’s something that is super important for my career. Time to put the big girl panties on and just get to work on that.

Prep-tember: I want to write at least one or two Prep-tember posts each week. I also need to get set up for Prep-tober. Let me know if there are any posts you’d like to see from me.

Outline my NaNo Novel: Now that I have an idea for a novel, I need to sit down and write a detailed outline for it, other wise it will never get written. I’ve tried the unplanned route, it just doesn’t work for me.

Print My Zine: Now that my zine is written, I need to lay it out, and print it. That’s really the last step before it gets out into the world. I’m pretty excited about making a couple extra dollars from something written and made by me.

Blog Every Week Day: Writing every week day is a definite goal for this month! I really want to see if I can do it! I know there are a lot of awesome bloggers that write every day so week days are super doable I think!

No Spend: This month I’m cutting back on my rules a little bit! This month it’s just no books, not purses and no stationery. I’m sorry, but all the fall colours just came out in the yarn department and I have n0 will power! I’d just be setting myself up to fail!

That’s it for today’s post! Share your goals, I’d love to hear what you have planned for this month!

As always, thanks for reading,
mazie bones

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