My NaNo Survival Kit

I figured with NaNoWriMo drawing ever closer, I’d share my own list of items that I’m collecting for my November survival kit. Some are ready to go, some I still need to get ready.

1. Laptop – The laptop itself is ready; in fact, I have a new one this year. It’s a work laptop, which comes home with me, and it’s very nice. The keyboard is a little frustrating though. I can’t say exactly why, but when I type my normal speed, I end up skipping letters way more often than I do on my desktop.

My writing space around my laptop is what I still need to work on. It’s piled high with papers and notebooks, related to both work and writing. I have a wooden filing cabinet near my desk that I plan to use to start organizing work papers, and go from there. That’s on my to-do list for the rest of October

2. Outline – I keep starting on this, and keep running into questions. I may need to stop worrying so much about a physical outline, and at least think through all of the broad points (it helps that I do have a timeline with key events listed out) to make sure there aren’t any more huge questions that need answered now, while I have more time. And this is just one plot thread I’ve been trying to outline. There will be another one, that I just realized yesterday might actually be a bigger thread than I thought, that I haven’t even started thinking about yet. So yeah, lots of work left to do on this, and I have how many days left?

3. Timeline
timeline Vin
I may not have an outline yet, but, as I mentioned, I do have a timeline. Because my 2017 NaNoNovel encompasses several other books, with some intertwining characters and plot points, I had to get this timeline set up a long time ago. Events have moved around a lot since then, even a lot just in the last couple of weeks, but I think it’s set now. And if I don’t end up with much of an outline, this will at least be something.

4. Notebook, pencil, & eraser

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And believe me, I has all the notebooks!

I still love the tactile feeling of writing by hand. I don’t do it much during NaNo, because it’s just…so…slow. But I always have at least one notebook with me when I leave the house during November, in case I have a chance to write, or even just a stray idea to jot down.

4-b. Thinkink Pen
fidget pen
The pen is metal and bendable, and comes with attachments that are either magnetic, or at least metal. It’s a fidget pen. I’ve noticed a tendency to take apart mechanical pencils when I’m in a meeting, or when I’m writing and have to stop to think. I’ve broken more than my share of pencils that way. This thing has been great!

5. Leftover Halloween candy & other snacks – It’s become a tradition for my husband and me to go out on the day after a major candy holiday (mostly Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter) and get a few bags full at half-off. It’s really the only times we buy candy, and then we split it between the 4 of us in our family, and make it last as long as we can. I tend to stress eat when I’m writing. It’s not a good habit, but one I can’t seem to shake during NaNo.

6. Full stock of coffee – For me, this is about more than the caffeine. I enjoy coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate when I’m settling in for my writing time simply for the taste. And the warmth, since it tends to be cold here during November.

7. Thumb drive – Somewhere I have a thumb drive with my writing backed up on it. It’s probably 2 years out of date, since there’s no way I was organized enough to back anything up during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ll have to dig it out, catch it up, and then use it to store my writing on. I tend to go back and forth between my laptop and desktop, because the laptop is upstairs in my bedroom where it’s quiet, but sometimes it’s nice to be at my desktop–more comfortable, amongst the people (downsides there, of course), and usually warmer.

8. AlphaSmart Neo

I did an entire blog post on this already, so I won’t go into much detail here. This will be my first NaNo with it, and I am really looking forward to it. I’ve already gotten quite a bit of use out of it during prep time. In fact, after using it for 3 days to “interview” one of my main characters as a way to break through some blocks, I had transferred the writing to my computer, and tried to finish it there. But it just wasn’t the same, and I couldn’t quite focus. This thing may transform the way I do NaNoWriMo. Or it may just be a fun toy. (Though if nothing else, it will definitely come in incredibly useful for writing away from the house.) Either way, I’m hooked!

What’s in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? Are you prepared for November 1st?

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Daily Writing Check-in: October 19, 2017

Words/Time: 137 words written, and 34 minutes of work done

The words were a short bit of free writing using another word from the list I’ve been using. The work was ACTUAL OUTLINING for my NaNoNovel! After several attempts and only an empty Scrivener file to show for it, I finally realized that I just needed to outline by hand first. I was trying to outline in Scrivener so I could just put the scenes right into there as I wrote them in November, but I realized that I don’t know where scenes will be separated yet. The way I normally outline is just plot point after plot point, and sometimes one line is an entire scene, but sometimes one scene comes out in 8 lines. I need to get the outline going before I can put scenes into Scrivener (if I even do that in advance). So I have almost a full page’s worth of outline, and barely got far in the story. But it did show me one thing.

I have this tendency to want to obfuscate as much as I can in a story. If I can fool the reader into thinking something else is happening than what is, even if just for a sentence or two, I do. If I can take two somewhat separate storylines and merge them together, but not give the reader any clue as to how they connect until 2/3 of the way through the story…oh, I love it!

I had it in mind to do something like that for this book, but since this book (I think) should be released after a few others, the things that I’m trying to keep secret are going to be pretty obvious to anyone who’s read the other books. So now I have to decide if I can salvage that obfuscation, or if I should just write it more normally.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 8, 2017

Words/Time: 330 words of free writing, followed by 14 minutes of NaNoPrep work.

A few days ago I read a post on a site I have really come to like, and the author had given a word list as a way to inspire some writing. I’ve been wanting to do some free writing alongside my NaNoPrep since I returned to writing a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to go and dig out my various ways to begin free writing. Word lists have always been a favorite type of writing prompt for me, and today was no exception.

Then I opened my “Pursuit of Power” outline in Scrivener and started looking at what it would be like to cut out the first 1/4 of the story, so the true plot for this book could get started a lot sooner. I also plan to incorporate a character who’s supposed to be a secondary main character in the story more, so I’ve been toying with the idea of starting the story more from her perspective. I didn’t get real far, because I got to my writing late today, but at least it’s something.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: February 9, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour working on “Pursuit of Power.” Most of that time was spent copying & pasting the entire story into Scrivener, one scene at a time. My next revision task has been trying to figure out how to get an important plot to start sooner. In the image below, the red is the main plot. The blue, though is an important plot line that will carry into the sequel to this novel. It’s also the catalyst that makes the red plot go where it needs to go. But there’s a lot of red at the beginning (which is mostly just my protagonist growing up and being positioned where he needs to be when the blue plot starts).Scrivener scenes PoP
I have two ideas for how to go about getting that blue to come in sooner, and I’ll probably have to incorporate both of them. I’ve already taken the first 3 or 4 blue scenes and spread them amongst the early red. And I may try to condense some of what happens in the red. It may not all be vital to the story, though so far, it seems vital enough that I can’t condense it much. But that’s always the problem with revising your own story.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 27, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes listing out the rest of the scenes in “Pursuit of Power” in Scrivener. While doing that, I realized my timeline wasn’t entirely accurate in some areas. I hadn’t referenced the timeline while writing, apparently, and I’d made the first part of the timeline many months before writing the first draft. I had to make some decisions about whether to change the dates in the timeline or to change it in the story. I could have saved that work for when I start reading soon, but it was bothering me.

Scrivener scenes PoP

This is my novel in a very boiled down, zoomed out, and color-coded sense. The different colors are different plot lines. The red is the main plot. The purple is the one I need to work on most. It may seem unimportant and worth deleting entirely, but it’s the personal life of the secondary main character. I always found it difficult to remember to include what was going on in her life throughout the story, and when I did, it seemed like a waste of time. So I need to spend some time figuring out what about her life is important enough to include, and the best way to slip that in here and there.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 26, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes revising “Pursuit of Power” during the writing group meeting at the library. To start the real revision, I’m writing out a list of scenes and color coding them by plot line. I’m also tagging them with the characters who are involved, and may add setting to it later. Hopefully this will help me to make sure my subplots are tight (and worth including) and that there aren’t random plot strands that shouldn’t be in the story.  It’s also giving me a chance to re-familiarize myself with the story as a whole before starting to read.

I was going to do this on paper with a pen, and then highlight different plot lines with different color highlighters (I got the idea for this here, but the rest of the process I do in a different order or a different way). But at the library, I didn’t have a pen, only a pencil (which wouldn’t work well with highlighter). So I figured I’d see how it worked in Scrivener. Once I figured out how to color code it and how to add characters to each scene that could be grouped later, it went pretty well. And I can see the whole story board at once, which is nice. I got through about half the story today, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish it tomorrow.

Daily Writing Check-in: December 12, 2015

Words/Time: 1.5 hours breaking “Pithea,” into chapters in Scrivener, then compiling the finished draft, and formatting the manuscript so that it’s more readable by everyday people (since Scrivener formats it for publishing companies, at least so they say).

Then while we were at a Christmas get-together today, during some downtime, I started reading through “The Triangle,” looking for any small edits I want to make before I try to self-publish it. It’s been years since I wrote it, and at least a year since I last read over it. I’ve grown as a writer even in that time, plus I’ll have very fresh eyes, so hopefully I’ll get it into a decent shape.

But I think “Pithea” is still going to be coming first, so “The Triangle” will be left to work on only when I’m not in the best position to work on “Pithea,” or when I need a short break from “Pithea.”

Daily Writing Check-in: December 11, 2015

Words/Time: Almost 2 hours inserting chapters into “Pithea,” in Scrivener, after finishing breaking it into scenes. I’m 3/4 of the way through the story, so I’ll be done soon, and then I can finally proceed with reading through it again. This weekend, my family has enough Christmas-related plans that I may not get much done. And I won’t stress over making sure to do some work every day, if I’m tired in the evening or something. Though I’ll probably finish this chapter thing before I go to bed tonight.

Daily Writing Check-in: December 10, 2015

Words/Time: 1 hour transferring “Pithea,” one scene at a time, into Scrivener. I’m not sure why it took me an hour to only get 2/3 of it done, but it did. I guess there’s more to it than that, as I did a few other things at the same time, like figure out how many words part 1 is, and how many chapters it would be if I averaged 5000 words per chapter.

Either later tonight or tomorrow night, I will finish this and divide the chapters. Then I’ll bug a few people to read it while I also start into reading it again.

Or maybe I’ll go give “The Triangle” another read-through. That’s one I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog. It’s a novelette-length story, which I hope to self-publish soon. More on that later, maybe.

Daily Writing Check-in: December 9, 2015

Words/Time: 30 minutes revising “Pithea.” I put the finishing touches on the draft that I did declare done a few days ago, but I neglected to remember the few more edits I needed to make. Tonight I call it done. And now I have remembered that I haven’t finished laying out the scenes in order to find the best chapter breaks. I was using Scrivener for that, which was the free trial at the time. I can use my code for winning NaNo to purchase the full version, but I don’t know if I want the Mac or PC version. (My husband just acquired a MacBook, which is our household’s first Mac. And since Scrivener was originally made for the Mac, it has features on that version that it doesn’t on the PC.)

Tomorrow I’ll see about downloading the trial version on the MacBook and work on the chapters there, while also trying to decide which full version I want to buy. I am almost ready to share my novel with some close friends and relatives who I know are wanting, or at least willing, to read it before it’s finalized and/or published, but I feel like chapters would be good first.