Tips for NaNoPrep

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In 2015, I wrote a series of posts about NaNoWriMo, covering things like tips for prep time, tips for November, help in the actual prep work, and even some of my favorite writing tools.

The problem now is that, though those things are all still helpful and relevant, there’s not a lot to add to them. I have picked up a few extra tips since then, sure, but those things I wrote about 2 years ago are still some of the most helpful advice I could give.

I could just reblog those posts throughout the month, but I don’t like that idea. Instead, I’m going to pick some of my favorite tips and share them in a few, boiled-down posts, while also suggesting that anyone who is interested in learning more visit the page where I’ve listed all of those posts from 2015.

1. Start writing now.
Take the next 2 1/2 weeks to learn what works best for you, so that by November, you know how to make the most of your writing time. Do you require absolute silence? If yes, when can you find that? Is your ideal time late at night when others are asleep? During your lunch break? First thing in the morning?

It doesn’t have to be the amount of time you will need to write 1667 words each day in November, but find maybe 15-20 minutes when you can sit down and write. For planners, work on the plot, characters, outline, or whatever you’re doing. For pantsers who are doing absolutely no planning before November 1, you can still make time every day to free write in anticipation of daily writing in November. In fact, free writing can be a great use of your time whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between.

Try to write every day, which is a good habit to have even outside of NaNo, but also keep in mind that if you can’t get to it one day, it’s not the end of the world. Just remember that if you’re like most of us, the longer you let yourself stay away, the less likely it is that you’ll keep the habit you’ve developed.

2. Find your space.
In a similar vein as figuring what when you work best, it can also be good to know in advance where and how you work best. Do you need a comfy spot? Maybe you work better at a desk or table with a straight-backed chair.  Where can you go to have the solitude you need? Or do you prefer some noise? Give coffitivity.com a try for a steady coffee shop background noise available anywhere you happen to be. Sometimes a little noise is good, but too much (people in the room, or even music with lyrics) can be bad.

Use your planning time to try out different locations and environments and see what works best. Do some work with pen/pencil and paper and some with a computer. Do you enjoy the tactile feel of writing by hand? Do you prefer the speed that typing can provide? This is the time to find out!

3. Gather your NaNo necessities.
Whether this includes consumables, physical tools, or making sure your laptop is set up and ready to use, make sure you know what you want to have handy for NaNoWriMo now, and procure as much of it as you can. When November starts, you don’t want to find yourself lacking.

4. Involve other senses.
I touched on sound above, so we’ll start there. Some people create a playlist for every story. I’ve read about people who will find music that matches the theme of their story, make a playlist from it (even if just on YouTube), and listen to it all month. Then, when November is over and they want to go back later and either finish the novel or revise it, they can listen to that music again, and it will put them right back in the mood.

Whatever your taste in music is, an alternative to creating an audio scene for your story is creating an olfactory scene. Scent memory is said to be very powerful. Go to the store and smell all the candles or all the scented wax (if you have or are willing to buy the wax melter to go with it). Think of your story, what it’s about, where it’s set, who the main character(s) is/are. Is it a romance? Maybe something flowery or sensual. Is it set in a tropical location? Something with coconut or tropical fruit, perhaps. There are outdoor scents if your story involves a lot of forest or other outdoor scenes. Not every story lends itself easily to a scent, but pick something that smells right and have it burning/melting near you while you write all month. Then later, you may just be able to immerse yourself back into the book by activating that scent again.

Check out this post for some NaNo-related music, comic strips, and even a musical!

5. The midnight sprint.
NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1. That falls in the middle of the week this year, but if you’re the kind who stays up late, or can make an exception for one night, you can start writing right at midnight and get some words under your belt before going to bed. It’s purely a mental trick, getting a jump start on the day’s word count, but many people love to do the midnight sprint.

When November looms closer, I will post tips about the writing itself, and how to survive–and even thrive–during NaNoWriMo. If you’re don’t want to wait, by all means, here’s the link again to the series of posts I made 2 years ago, from which I’ll probably be stealing some those tips.

What about you? How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? If you’ve done this all before, do you have any tips on how to get ready?

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December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo is over, but I just have a few more things to say. This year was different than past NaNo experiences for me in multiple ways. It was full of a lot of highs and lows. My first write-ins, my first word crawls, a new writing buddy, and the 25k on day 1 all made this a November to remember. I also wrote a full novel and probably 2/3 of another, which was new for me. One thing I learned is that I’m better not pushing for a huge word count in a single day. If it happens, then I’m probably in the right mood for it, and great! Otherwise, I risk burning out, and I really did teeter on the edge of that during the rest of the first week.

I just have to say a huge thank you to my husband who gave me everything I needed this month–time and encouragement to work, but also a reminder that I don’t have to overachieve if it’s just not feeling right. Oh, and lots of fun and relaxation right when I needed it. And to my sister who came to the write-in with me, even though it was so far from where she lives. It was so much fun doing that, and we were even in the paper!

I keep saying that the community and mutual encouragement of the community is what makes NaNo so amazing, and it really is true! I felt a lot of that when I was having issues this month, from fellow bloggers, people in my region, and just from finding new ways to be inspired on the NaNo forums. I will always love this event and the people who are involved!

One last time for 2015, make sure to check out the final NaNoToons – 2015 December 1st
And since I apparently forgot to post any more episodes of the musical, here is episode 5. There’s one more after it, and I think it’s linked at the end of this one. I wanted to get to episode 5 specifically, because it contains my favorite out of all the songs.

Now onto the non-NaNo part of the post, today’s daily writing check-in:

Words/Time: 25 minutes organizing notes for “Pithea” in anticipation of the next (and probably last for a very long time) marathon meeting of the TCSTB. We’ve left a lot of things to work on later through the 100,000ish words of this novel, so I went through and found all of the issues, questions, or whatever, and made a list of what we needed to work on.

NaNoWriMo Day 30

The Words: 7999 written today. So though I had decided not to push for 100,000 words, once I started writing today, I really started feeling it again and just kept wanting to come back to it. Then I had to stop for a while for normal family life, and started to get antsy to get back to it. I crossed the 100k mark around 11:10 pm! And I finished the climax, and spent some time brainstorming what else should happen. And I think I have a decent idea for the rest of the story, whether I work on that after NaNo or leave it for a long time. The brainstorming being in text, and not just in my mind, will help a lot if I do put it aside for now.

One of the more important things for me, this year, was this:every day
I wanted to make sure that I wrote some words every day of the month, no matter how many or how few. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that during NaNo before.

This weekend my sisters and I are having what we hope will be one final, day-long editing session for “Pithea,” so no matter what I do with the novel I didn’t quite finish for NaNo, I have to work on getting ready for that this week.

For those of you who came to my blog during November, I will continue to post nearly every day. I make it a goal to write or revise a certain amount every day, which I don’t adhere to quite as strictly as I do NaNo, but it still keeps me from falling into huge lazy gaps. This blog was originally started as a place to keep myself accountable for that, and it continues to be such.

The Story: Missy and her husband happen upon Jonathan and his unanticipated nemesis squaring off. A sudden fight breaks out, and who is left on the other side, and how, is completely unexpected. Of course I can’t really say more due to spoilers, but it should be a neat twist! And in my revision someday, I’ll have to make the whole thing much more grand than it turned out.

I think I’ve straightened out my heroes and villains, and even know what’s going to eventually happen between the middle area I last left off at and the climax that I finished today.

Total word count: 100,383

day 30

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 30th And check back tomorrow, because there’s usually one more comic for Dec. 1st!

NaNoWriMo Day 29

The Words: 854 words written today. I realized this evening that I was only writing because I felt like I had to. I had set myself a goal for 100,000 words by the end of the month, and I felt like a failure if I couldn’t reach it. I’m still not thrilled about the idea of letting that goal go, and I may drive myself crazy tomorrow telling myself I should be writing. Maybe I’ll really push for it tomorrow, but I had to make the decision today that I’d only do that if I felt like it, not because I thought I had to. It’s an arbitrary goal, and I’ve already won NaNo whether I make that or not. But it’s been making me feel stressed because things have been more hectic than usual lately with special activities to do, holidays (though that was planned for in advance at least) and a sick kid. So I’m giving myself permission to fall short.

My main goal is to try to get the climax written completely, so I don’t leave that hanging at least (and yes, I jumped to the climax, though I wasn’t actually there in my writing yet).

The Story: Jonathan is confronting the person who is behind everything that’s been going on. He’s starting to realize how much this person has pulled strings for years now. He doesn’t know why yet. (I have no idea how Jonathan got out of jail, but I know he needs to.)

Total word count: 92,385

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 29th

NaNoWriMo Day 28

The Words: 2252 words written today. This was written a few hours after midnight, when my daughter finally went to sleep. I tried to salvage the night’s writing, especially since I knew I’d be busy today. We spent the afternoon decorating the tree, and then went to an escape room this evening. It was one my husband and I had done alone last weekend, but we got others from my family (Mom, Dad, 2 sisters, one sister’s boyfriend, and our own 13-year-old son) to go do the same room. Then the owner let us back into the control room to watch them solve the room! Then afterward, we went out to eat and sat and talked about the room for a while. It was so much fun! Not so good for the last few days of NaNo, but fun! And fun is nice right now.

I have two days left to try to reach my goal of 100,000 words. I will be frustrated if I come this close and fail, but of course it’s not a necessary goal. 4200 each of the next two days will get me there, but we’ll see how they go. My daughter’s still been holding a  low fever today, so she’s a little needy.

The Story: Missy and her husband have been discussing the situation with Jonathan further. Missy gave him a history lesson of how Jonathan and Lark met and fell in love, since he didn’t know all of them at that time. Still more fishing by me, and soon I’m going to have to move on. I may go ahead and dive into the climax tomorrow. I’m just not sure where the players will be at the start of the climax. But I might be able to make it vague enough. Maybe doing that will give me a better idea of where to go next further back in the story.

Total word count: 91,530

day 28

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 28th    This comic… this one is brilliant. However, if you haven’t been keeping up with them, you should maybe read this one first. This is the very spirit of what makes NaNo so amazing.

NaNoWriMo Day 27

The Words: 2009 words written today. I had planned to write a lot between 10 pm and 2 am. But it was not to be. My 5-year-old daughter started feeling unwell around 7 pm, and it escalated throughout the night. I got a couple of 15-minute sprints in before I had to just go lie on the bed with her watching cartoons. It was only ever a fever and headache, which were both mostly gone when she finally went to bed. So she’s okay for now, and we’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow.

Now I go on to get more words in for Saturday, since I have a somewhat busy day ahead, and I don’t actually know what my writing time will look like.

The Story: Continuing on with what I started yesterday, Jonathan has been sitting in his cell thinking through the entire situation. That has turned into some brief recaps of certain storylines from “Pithea.” This is what happens when I start pantsing and don’t know where I’m going.

Total word count: 89,278

day 27

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 27th

NaNoWriMo Day 26

The Words: 45 words written today (well…yesterday, actually, but I’m dating it the 26th because I’m particular enough that I want to see a blog post every day I wrote, not just when I had time to post about it). This is the lowest amount I’ve written all month, but Thanksgiving day (or whatever day my family gets together for Thanksgiving) always is. We always play board games into the night, and I never get home before midnight. Sometimes they’ll play a game that I’d rather not join in on (I often watch instead of play), so I’ll get out my notebook and write at the table while they play. That didn’t happen this time. So at about 11:30, I made sure to at least write something. This is the first year I’ve been so insistent on writing every day during November, even if it’s just 45 words. It might be because of these blog posts (I did this same thing last year, but had very little audience), or it might be because I want the badge for updating every day. Either way, I like that it pushes me to at least think about my writing a little bit on busy days.

The Story: I wrote a paragraph of Jonathan sitting in jail, going over things in his mind. In fact, I’ll just post it right here:
“Jonathan had a lot of time to think during his detainment. The biggest thing on his mind wasn’t the murder he’d been accused of or even the book that was so important to him and had been violated. His mind was constantly on his wife.”

Total word count: 87,269

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 26th (They’re about to start an epic word war!)

NaNoWriMo Day 25

The Words: 3455 words written today. I was distracted for the first hour of my writing time, and I had to really buckle down with sprints to get the words in before midnight. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and I’ll be gone until probably after midnight. I’ll write in a notebook when I can, but I’ve made sure to have a lead pretty much for this very reason.

The Story: Missy went to talk to Jonathan’s wife Larxis about the things she’d said to the investigators. She mostly got told off by Lark, who said they were never friends, only pushed together because of their shared interest in Lark’s husband. Missy sort of caught Lark in a logic trap, which only angered Lark further, and then she promptly quit their War Games team. It wasn’t pretty. Larxis has a temper, that’s for sure.

Total word count: 87,224

day 25

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 25th

 

NaNoWriMo Day 24

The Words: 4976 words written today. I went to the last write-in at my local library tonight. It was a small turnout, but I did get my normal day’s word count done while I was there. Then I went ahead and did one 1k30min with the Twitter feed, and wrote 1600 words during that.

The Story: Jonathan has been detained for the murder of his apprentice. He and Missy are discussing some concerning issues, like what on earth is going on in general, and why Jonathan’s wife Larxis said that he has a temper and that she thinks Missy is in love with Jonathan. He just keeps telling her to trust the justice system, and not to worry over things she can’t control. He wants her to cooperate fully with the investigation, and he’s certain the truth will come out (whatever that even is). I never knew he was so level-headed and trusting. Even I’m starting to wonder if he’s having a mental break-down.

Total word count: 83,769

day 24

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 24th

And episode 4 of the NaNoMusical! Rick falls down, and there’s a sappy love song!

NaNoWriMo Day 23

The Words: 3984 words written today. I started doing word sprints with the Twitter feed around 10 pm, and didn’t look back. I’m really glad to be back into the writing again.

The Story: Jonathan filled Missy in when he was on his way to confront his apprentice, who wasn’t home. Missy, waiting for some sort of report, decided she couldn’t wait anymore, and went to the apprentice’s home too. There she found a dead apprentice and no Jonathan.

Total word count: 78,793

day 23

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 23rd

Week three is over and we have just one week left (and for Americans, it’s Thanksgiving week). How is everyone out there doing? Ready to finish strong? Limping to the end? Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP!