Writerly Round Up: November 2015

Writerly Round Up monthly template (1)Happy November 30th! For many, today is a bittersweet day: the end of NaNoWriMo. Throughout the month, you’ve likely fallen in and out of love with your story a million times, and it’s both relieving and saddening to close the cover on a beloved (though exhausting) 30-day challenge.

We’re here with our monthly round up to help you both celebrate and mourn the end of November with some great articles we spotted across the web this month. So take a breather, do some reading, and set your sights on the road ahead!

Outlining… Or Not: Some Tips For Discovery Writers

Posted by J Young-Ju Harris

With NaNoWriMo officially coming to a close, there are plenty of writers out there who have learned something new about themselves and/or their craft this past month.  For many, that thing is a love for discovery writing. If you’ve found yourself loving the less structured approach these past 30 days, check out J Young-Ju Harris’s tips on discovery writing like a pro!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals for Writers (and Those Who Love Them)

Posted by Joe Bunting @ The Write Practice

The title says it all! Though Black Friday has passed, there are tons of great writerly deals out there today for Cyber Monday, from cheap e-books and e-readers to discounted writing courses.

The Character Evolution Files, No. 4: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 2 – The Comfort Zone (Act I)

Posted by Sara Letourneau

This month, Sara Letourneau posted part 4 to her wonderful “The Character Evolution Files” series, which explains the various stages of the Character Arc in great detail. Take a look at the series from the first post on—there’s lots to learn, especially if you plan on revamping some of your characters when editing your new novel!


Have you read any great articles this month? Feel free to share them with us!

6 Secrets To Winning NaNoWriMo Early

For most people, dedicating a whole month to writing 50,000 words can sound a bit shocking, and that number alone can scare a lot of newcomers out of even trying NaNoWriMo. But for the insane percentage of people who do participate in it every year, we know that 50,000 words is not that daunting once you break it down into daily goals of 1667. I know that I personally have a few people on my buddy list who stretch for 200,000 words in the month of November, which is way too intense for me, but all the power to them. It’s all just a matter of setting your daily goals a little higher than the suggested word count.

But sometimes the word count isn’t the scary part. Sometimes, it’s the time that people have to set aside to work on NaNoWriMo on a daily basis. It’s not always possible for people to work on their project for 30 days straight, and this is where finishing your 50k early comes to be most handy.

Today we are going to be talking about how I beat the clock and win NaNoWriMo early every year. Here are some of my secrets to getting ahead and staying above the suggested daily goals:

  1. I personally write an average of 2200-3000 words a day on days that I am working, and 5000 words on days that I am not working. I tend to split up my writing sessions into 3 separate times (early morning before work, before dinner, and before bed). This helps me split up the times and helps me gather my thoughts before binge writing.
  2. I try to do at least one write-a-thon a week. Sometimes I don’t even set big goals for them, but I don’t separate the sessions. If you want to learn more about my tips for write-a-thons, check out my post about them!
  3. Sprints are my absolute best friend during writing sessions. I am generally a focused writer and don’t have a procrastination issue, but I do get easily distracted by the Internet, by my kitten and by all kinds of chores and things I could be doing instead of writing. So I set up a schedule for my sprints. I will write down what sprint times I want to do, and then I will also schedule my break times and what tasks I want to do during the break times. Whether those tasks are switching my laundry over, or sweeping the apartment, or anything that helps me feel more productive, they really help me justify sitting down to write for longer periods of time.
  4. I scout out fast writers in the forums and add them as buddies on the NaNoWriMo website. I often find myself racing a lot of them or trying to keep up with them. I am very competitive by nature, so it’s really easy for me to get motivated when I see people 4000 words ahead of me. I keep a tab of my writing buddies page open at all times.
  5. If you don’t think setting a word count goal for yourself will motivate you, try using the daily-suggested word counts on the NaNo Stats page. Usually, if I can’t get motivated to write a bunch of words, I tell myself that I am going to write ahead two days and set my goal for the one on the website accordingly. For example, if it’s Day 5, I will tell myself to write ahead to get to Day 7 on that day instead. Even if you only write ahead one day, you are still a step ahead.
  6. When you get ahead, don’t stop writing. Even when I am 10,000 words ahead of the suggested goal I make sure I am writing at least the recommended number of words per day, because as soon as you stop writing you will start losing momentum and you will start losing progress. One day will turn into 2 days and that could and has easily turned into a week of no writing. The goal is to win early to give yourself free time at the end of the month. Obviously if you have plans on a day that you would normally be writing, don’t hesitate to take a day off if you have to, but do make sure that your reason is never lack of motivation.

I really hope that all these tips have given you some ideas on amping up your writing sessions and have given you some insight into the processes of those people who have already won. The biggest thing to remember is that while NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a challenge, it’s also supposed to be a fun experience full of writing habit-building as well as a way to meet other writers locally and around the world. Don’t rush through NaNo just to “get it over with.” With all that extra time, you could set a higher goal, you could start editing and take up some of the sponsors on their winner offers, or you could just spend the rest of the month cheering on your fellow Wrimos!

If you have any tips or tricks for getting ahead and winning NaNoWriMo early, please feel free to leave those in the comments below. I would love to hear them and maybe try a few out!


Mazie Bishop is a fiery 23 yeaMazie-Bishopr-old writer and journalism graduate from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

The Power of Write-A-Thons

For NaNoWriMo participants, the word “write-a-thon” tends to mean a few different things. It can either mean that you plan to plot out a bunch of chapters, set a daily goal and write your heart out until you hit that goal, or join an insane write-in event where you are surrounded by people who all plan to write a certain amount of words in a set period of time and will stop at nothing to get there. These options can all come with varying stress levels, but the common denominator is that you are setting a goal and not stopping until you write your way there.

Write-a-thons can be an amazing tool for people who find themselves procrastinating or falling behind in word count or who are just more goal driven. I personally do write-a-thons on a weekly basis during NaNo, and this year I plan on doing at least two 10,000 word days.

There are a few important things to plan before you sit yourself down for a day of intense writing, so here are my fool-proof tips to surviving a write-a-thon:

  1. Schedule your sprints and breaks. Do the math ahead of time and calculate your average word count within a set time. Then figure out how many sprints of that length you will need to do to get to your goal.
  2. With that information, you are going to want to set aside some time just for your write-a-thon and make sure that you won’t have any long-term interruptions. It is really easy to lose momentum when you are writing for a long period of time.
  3. If you need to be held accountable for your word count, pick a writing buddy or tweet your goal. I find that as soon as I put my goal on my social media or tell someone about it, it helps me hold myself accountable and push myself there.
  4. Race a friend! This will be a great motivation if you are a competitive person. (Co-founder note: Check out our past posts on NaNoWagers for inspiration!)
  5. Take 5 to 10 minute breaks in between each sprint. Make sure you are staying hydrated and snacking frequently. Stand up, walk around, and get the blood flowing!
  6. Reward yourself at the end or per sprint. If you are sitting down to write 5000 or 10,000 words you are more than deserving of a reward or two! I find guilt-free video game time or Netflix time to be a great reward so far this year.

I really hope that these tips help you a bit when getting ready for a write-a-thon and I hope that you consider trying it out. If you are used to writing the suggested daily goal of 1667 words, I would really recommend you try a 3k day or a 5k day—they are so rewarding and really can boost your NaNoWriMo spirit!

If you have any other tips for having a successful write-a-thon, please leave your tips in the comment below, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website (username is DaisyforMazie)!


Mazie-Bishop

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 23 year-old writer and journalism graduate from
Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

Finding Balance: Why I Shouldn’t Have Done NaNoWriMo This Year

With 5 days left in the month, I crossed the 50k finish line and nabbed my NaNoWriMo 2014 “win”.

I use the term “win” loosely, because – and this is a horrible confession for me to make – I truly feel like I shouldn’t have participated in NaNoWriMo this year.

In the past, NaNoWriMo has done wonderful things for me. It’s bolstered my confidence in my ability to write every day and it’s produced interesting and impressive pieces of writing. And above all, it has connected me with other writers who are just as enthusiastic about writing as I am.

However, this year NaNo went a bit south for me. While I pounded out those 50k words, dutifully writing nearly every day this month, I did so for no other reason than to get the 50,000 words done with.

I’ve hated everything I’ve written this November – and sure, that may just be my inner-critic talking, but going off past experiences, this manuscript is so far from saving (even with some heavy editing), that I feel I truly wasted my time writing what turned out to be a mere shadow of what someone might call a “novel”. It wasn’t at all what I had envisioned for the story or the characters. After all is said and done, I feel like I took a promising idea and mutilated it.

But here’s the thing: it’s my fault that I feel this way about this year’s NaNoWriMo experience. I knew, going into November, that I had next to no free time. That doing NaNo would mean less sleep – which leads to less energy and creativity – which leads to less fruitful writing. And instead of saying to myself: “Maybe I should sit this one out and focus on creating a smaller amount of high-quality writing”, I raced head-long into the gauntlet that is NaNo.

The result has been a month filled with stress, frustration, and negative self-talk.

As a disclaimer, I want to say that this post is in no way meant to discourage people from taking on the NaNo challenge. It’s only to make the point that sometimes you need to be honest with yourself about your limitations. By all means, take risks and push yourself with your writing. But don’t lose sight of your own mental, emotional, and physical health. Make sure you have the time – or can feasibly MAKE the time – to take on a month-long novel-writing marathon, before you sign up.

So I learned something valuable this November: If you know with certainty that you are too busy to churn out a sloppy, yet satisfying 50,000 words, take a break from the writing craziness and focus your efforts on creating what you can.

I’ll be wearing my NaNo winner’s shirt come December 1st, but I’ll be feeling like I did anything but win.

~

How did your NaNoWriMo experience measure up this year? Hopefully better than mine! What did you learn about yourself and your writing? Tell me in the comments below!

Time Change – One More Hour of Writing

Hello all you lovely writers. Fall is crisp in the air and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is here…and so is the time change (at least in North America).

In case you haven’t done so, we’re serving up a reminder to set your clocks back one hour today! And what better way to take advantage of that extra hour than by using it to write! Get your word counts up for NaNoWriMo (join us for #SundayScribes word sprints on Twitter – 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern) or finally edit that one tricky chapter you’ve been putting off.

However you use your extra hour today, make sure it’s well-spent.

Happy writing!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Kick-Off!

It’s here! NaNoWriMo 2014 has arrived!

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

We know you’re busy plunging into your novels and building the foundation for your word counts, so we’ll keep this short. Here are a few things we’ll be doing here around The Sprint Shack (in addition to writing our own NaNo novels), to help you hit that 50,000th word by the end of the month!

Word Sprints

We’re hosting our normal schedule of word sprints each week in November. You can join in any of these sprints that we host on our Twitter account:

Mondays: Competitive #wordscrim at 14:00 PDT / 17:00 EDT / 22:00 GMT, hosted by Faye.

Tuesdays: #TNightSprints at 18:00 PDT / 21:00 EDT / 02:00 GMT, hosted by Cristina.

Wednesdays: Competitive #wordscrim at 14:00 PDT / 17:00 EDT / 22:00 GMT, hosted by Faye.

Thursdays: #TNightSprints at 18:00 PDT / 21:00 EDT / 02:00 GMT, hosted by Cristina.

Saturdays: #TalesAndTea Party from 08:00-10:00 PDT / 11:00-13:00 EDT / 16:00-18:00 GMT, hosted by Faye.

Sundays: #SundayScribes from 10:00-11:00 PDT / 13:00-14:00 EDT / 18:00-19:00 GMT, hosted by Taylor.

Don’t forget about #WriteClub (hosted by @FriNightWrites) every Friday and #Wordscrim Wednesday (hosted by all of these wordy folk) every–you guessed it–Wednesday! We’ll also keep you updated on other special NaNo sprints going on throughout the month.

Posts

As usual, we’ll be posting here with tips on how to make the most out of this year’s NaNoWriMo and motivation to keep those words flowing! We’d also like to take this time to announce that the wonderful Mazie Bishop will also be contributing to The Sprint Shack this November in order to help us help you on your NaNoWriMo adventure! Say hello in the comments and make her feel welcome!

Mazie-Bishop

Fun

We’ll make sure to provide a bit of entertainment to you all (via #NaNoWagers and other shenanigans)!

Our Novels

Lastly, we want to give you a look at what we’re all working on for NaNo this year!

Taylor Eaton

I’m working on a fantasy novel. That’s right. A FULL LENGTH NOVEL. This is a huge leap from the flash fiction that I typically write. I completed a full novel last NaNo, but couldn’t bring myself to ever re-visit it. And this year I’m trying something different: I’m pantsing it. All the way. No outlines. No plotlines. Nothing has been prepared. I’m excited and extremely apprehensive to get started. 50k, here I come!

Faye Kirwin

This year I’m rebelling and working on two projects over the next 30 days: one is a novel idea I’ve had for a few years now and finally hammered out a plot for, and one is editing (shock, horror!) a past NaNoWriMo novel. As a result, I don’t know if I’ll reach 50k, but I intend to use all the sprints and writathons of NaNoWriMo to help me make headway on two WIPs that should have been finished a loooong time ago. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Cristina Guarino

I guess I’m a combination of Faye and Taylor: I’m being a bit of a rebel by working on my old fantasy novel, rather than a brand new novel. There are still a few ten thousands of words left to FINALLY complete the first draft, and then I can loop back around and do some VERY much-needed rewrites of the first third or so. I don’t know if I’ll get to 50k either, as the rewriting process might take me longer than my typical NaNoWriMo writing, but the fresh writing I’ll be starting with should take up a good deal of my word count goal… especially since I, too, am pantsing the rest!

~

What are you working on this NaNo? What would you like to see from us to help make sure your NaNo is the best one yet? Let us know in the comments below. Happy NaNo-ing!

The Most Overlooked Part of NaNoPrep (Which Could Actually Save Your NaNoWriMo)

What’s the most overlooked and under-appreciated part of preparing for NaNoWriMo? Straightening out your plot? Interviewing your characters? Stocking the cupboards with biscuits and several tonnes of tea?

Nope. It’s preparing your writing time for the long 50k slog.

It’s easy to get caught up in novel prep and that’s completely understandable–you’ll be spending 30 days living and breathing your story, after all–but don’t let it eclipse other important aspects of NaNoPrep, like planning out exactly when you’ll be writing this November.

Here are five easy steps to figuring out the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘how much’ of NaNoWriMo writing time.

How Much Time Do You Need?

How long does it take you, on average, to write 1667 words? Two hours? Three? More? Try a few practice runs in these last few days before November starts to get a feel for how much time you’ll need to dedicate to writing each day next month.

NaNo pro tip: word sprints will get you to your target word count a gazillion times quicker than writing at a normal pace. Check out our Upcoming Sprints page for the regular word sprints going on through the month and keep an eye out for a Mass Sprint Watch post highlighting all the sprinting events going down this November.

Now that you have an idea of how much time you’ll need to write each day, it’s time to start planning when you’ll write.

Schedule Writing Time and Guard It Fiercely

Visualise your weekly schedule or actually look at it, if you’re organised enough to have it written down. Do you have any long stretches of time that you could dedicate to writing each day next month? Identify time blocks for writing, mark them down in your schedule, and guard them fiercely. Let friends and family know that these times are for writing and that you won’t be available during them. If you can help it, don’t arrange anything else during those times too.

Be Prepared to Grab Time Whenever and Wherever You Can

Don’t get so caught up in planning out big blocks of noveling time that you forget about the short writing opportunities that litter the day. Carry a notebook around with you wherever you go in November and get into the habit of scribbling in it whenever you have free time.

In the waiting room at the doctors? Write. On the train or bus? Write. Grabbing a bite to eat during your lunch break? Write.

Time is limited and your word count is vast. Take advantage of every spare moment and get those words down.

If You Can’t Find Time, Make Time to Write

If there isn’t enough already available time in your day for writing, then try making some. Look at activities you do each day that aren’t necessary. Maybe you could cut back on watching TV or browsing the Internet or reading (just for November, I promise!) and dedicate some of that time to writing instead?

Alternatively, you could organise your day to make it more efficient, therefore freeing up more time. For example, rather than checking your email at several points throughout the day, getting side-tracked on Pinterest, reading your feed on Twitter and lurking on Facebook each time, you could limit yourself to only doing this once or twice a day, and only then for 30 minutes maximum. Suddenly you have so much more time to spare for writing.

Take Advantage of the Weekends

If you’re busy on weekdays, take full advantage of the weekends to catch up on your word count. Dedicate as much time as you can do to writing and crank out those words. Sprinting helps.

NaNo pro tip: Find large sprinting events and use them to boost your word count. Weekends, in particular, will be overflowing with word sprinting events this year. #WriteClub hosts hour upon hour of sprints every Friday, through into Saturday in many time zones. The Sprint Shack hosts the #TalesAndTea Party every Saturday and #SundayScribes every (you guessed it) Sunday. There are several writing marathons scheduled for the weekends in November too, which we’ll let you know more about in the upcoming Mass Sprint Watch post.

In short, there will be opportunities aplenty over the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of November for you to propel your word count up, up and away. Take advantage of that and plan your writing time so that it coincides with them, if you can.

~

Remember to factor in time for writing when finishing off your NaNoWriMo preparations this week. It really could save you (and your word count) in November. Identify your sacred writing time, schedule it, guard it, and then sprint it out. Oh, and have fun too. Let’s not forget that.

~

Do you write at a specific time or grab time whenever you can?

NaNo Prep: Making the Most of the Last Week of October

The clock is ticking. Only one week to go until NaNoWriMo. Just 7 days standing between you and your next novel.

Are you ready?

If not, here’s a last-minute guide to help you make sure you’re prepared for the month-long writing marathon.

Get your outline in order if you’re a planner
Get that outline cleaned up. Finish naming your characters and sketching out your villains. Clean it all up to make the writing process smoother once November 1st rolls around.

Start cooking ideas if you’re a pantser
Even if you prefer writing by the seat of your pants, it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about your story. Get a few ideas bouncing around you brain (What genre are you writing? Who is your protagonist?) and let them simmer over the next week.

Tell your friends and family that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo NOW
Seriously, send out a mass text or a Facebook post. Make an announcement with a mega-phone. Tell everyone you know that you’re doing NaNo. This not only keeps you on track (there’s nothing worse than a judgmental look from your significant other followed up with “why aren’t you writing?”), but it also lets the important people in your life know you’ll be busier than usual for the next month.

Set your daily word count goal now
How many days do you want to write each day in November? Do you want to do the standard 1,667 words per day? Do you want to write double that each day and be done by mid-November. Do you want to write less during the week and more during the weekend? Figure it out now and then stick to it come November.

Sign up for the Writember Workshop
Need help staying on track during November? Our very own Faye Kirwin is running a workshop that will keep you writing. For more info or to sign up, click here.

Get your playlists in order
Take some time to hand-pick your music before NaNo starts. Doing this will keep  you inspired through the month AND it saves you from creating more and falling into a pit of procrastination when you should be writing next month.

Create your Pinterest inspiration boards
Pin to your heart’s content. If you’re constantly looking for visual inspiration, create a board full of inspiring photos or quotes that will keep you writing through November.

Stock up on the snacks
Or coffee, tea, alcohol, etc. Make sure you’ve got enough of your favorite munchies to fuel your writing…at least for the first couple days of NaNo!

Pre-write your November blog posts
Or at least outline them. Instead of having to break from your NaNo novel to write your weekly blog post, get it done now.

Get pumped with pre-NaNo sprints
Head over to our Twitter account for sprinting throughout the week and get the creative juices pumping!

~

What do you have left to do to prep for NaNoWriMo? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Ways to Prepare Yourself and Your Story for NaNoWriMo

4 Ways to Prepare Yourself and Your Story for #NaNoWriMo | www.sprintshack.wordpress.comNovember 1st is only two weeks away. (WHAT? When did that happen?)

Whether NaNoWriMo has crept up on you or you’ve been planning for it since December 1st 2013, there’s one way to set yourself up for a super successful noveling month: a little bit of novel prep work. And don’t worry–it’s the fun kind of prep too.

What follows are four ways I use to prepare myself and my story, so that I can dive into NaNoWriMo on November 1st and not surface again until midnight on the 30th. Here’s how you can do the same.

1. Do all your research now

Nothing stops you in your writing tracks during NaNoWriMo quite like realising you need to do research. You open up Google, intending to do a quick search and then return to writing… and 3 hours, 15 articles and a sneaky sojourn on Pinterest later, you have nothing written. Instead of forging ahead with your daily target of 1667 words, you got bogged down by hours and hours of searching–time that could have been better spent working on your NaNo project.

The solution? Do as much research as you can do before November.

Get out a pen and paper and note down anything you need to know about your project that you don’t already. Do you need to research the setting? The era? The technology? The culture? Write down any questions you’ll need to know the answers to when writing your novel, then get researching! Remember to make notes on what you find out so that you can easily refer to them in November. It’s no use doing all this research now if you can’t remember it and have to go search all over again.

2. Get to know your characters

Some people like to discover their characters as they write. If, however, you prefer to know the characters you’ll be writing 50k about before you start barrelling through their story, then fleshing out your cast is a prudent bit of NaNo prep for you.

Take some time to get to know your characters. You could do this through:

  • Creating character profiles for your main cast members. Include important details, like their names, ages, appearances, details about their background and personality, and so on.
  • Holding character interviews. Ask your main cast questions about themselves and write answers from their perspective, in their voice, so that you get a taste for their speech patterns and personality as well as find out a thing or two about their history.
  • Creating a board of character inspiration. This could be a physical board, like a collage, or a virtual one, such as on Pinterest. Gather picture inspiration for your characters, such as clothing and hair style ideas, places they like to visit, maybe even photos of actors who resemble them. Put together a board that fills you with the need to write about these characters whenever you see it.

3. Plot out your story or ready some signposts

If you’re a plotter, then knowing where your story is going to go, at least roughly, before November starts is a priority. Use the next two weeks to create an outline of your novel, if you haven’t already. I love structuring and planning out my novels using K.M. Weiland’s The Secrets of Story Structure articles–they give me a framework without being restrictive, perfect for keeping me going during NaNoWriMo.

Even if you’re more of a pantser (someone who writes without knowing what will happen next), there are still benefits to a little bit of novel planning. Give yourself some ‘signposts’, or indications of what you’d like to happen at certain points (this could be a scene you really want to include or a character appearance you want to happen at some point), to give yourself direction should you encounter writer’s block or a sudden drop in motivation.

Both plotters and pantsers can benefit from planning out some ‘candy bar’ scenes before NaNo begins. These are the scenes that make you giddy with excitement just by thinking about them, scenes that your fingers are itching to write. Get some paper or index cards and write a brief outline of your candy bar scenes (exactly how detailed your outline is will depend on how much you like to plan out), then have these at the ready for days you feel uninspired, unmotivated and uninterested in writing during November. They should rekindle your desire to write, no problem.

4. Practice

Writing 1667 words a day isn’t easy, particularly if you’re not used to it. Ease yourself into writing regularly by dedicating some time each day to writing or setting yourself a word count goal for the rest of October. (Try out the Write Chain Challenge if this idea appeals to you.)

If you opt for a word count goal and are unused to writing on a regular basis, start small–maybe 500 words a day–and build up to 1667 over the next fortnight. That way, when NaNoWriMo does start, you’ll already have an idea of what writing every day entails.

What can you write during October? There are a few options.

  • If you intend your NaNoWriMo project to be more than 50,000 words, you could start it early, make some progress, and then write the next 50k of it during November.
  • If you want to save your main project for November, you could focus on a different story until then. (Maybe editing last year’s NaNo project, eh?)
  • Alternatively, you could use your writing time each day to work on the three aforementioned ways to prepare yourself and your story. For example, you could write 500 words of character interviews each day. You could write an outline for your plot. You could write up research notes, ready to be referred to once NaNoWriMo starts. Like killing two birds with one stone, don’t you think?

The moral of the story…

Don’t start NaNoWriMo unprepared. Get your research done, characters created, plot outlined and practice in, so that you can spend November concentrating on what really matters–the words. Best of luck, my friend.

~

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo Prep: Becoming a Pantser

A Pantser is Born
I’m VERY excited for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m sure we all are, but I’m excited because something new has happened. Something weird and strange and entirely out of character for me. You guys: I think I’ve become a Pantser.

It wasn’t until I read Cristina’s latest post that I began to identify what had been taking place during my NaNo “prep” – for once I wasn’t really prepping at all. I wasn’t outlining and I wasn’t picking out character names or world building. I wasn’t doing any planning. I was just…ready to wing it come November 1st.

Metamorphosis
Did you guys know that scientists STILL don’t fully understand HOW a caterpillar turns into a butterfly? Seriously, they don’t. Sure they go into their cocoons, but researchers can’t quite pin-point the details of how a little worm becomes a fragile, winged creature. I’m serious (hear more about it on Radiolab if you’re interested)!

My current transformation from Planner to Pantser kind of feels like a mysterious metamorphosis, too. I’m not sure when it started happening, or HOW, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way I’ve been approaching NaNoWriMo this year.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve always considered myself to be a die-hard Planner. In past Octobers, I’ve always meticulously outlined and set up blank files in Scrivener for each and every scene in my yet-to-be-written book. And up until recently, I always regarded Pantsers as a different breed of writers. A wilder, more spontaneous kind.

But now I’m here, on October 11 – less than 20 days from the start of the biggest writing event of the year – and I have done absolutely zero planning.

Old Habits Die Hard
Okay, so I’ve done a little bit of planning. Shhh, don’t tell the rest of the Pantsers!

I do have a concept for my NaNo novel, and I have a main character in mind. I’m not running into NaNoWriMo entirely blind – I’m not that courageous! At least not yet. But these ideas haven’t touched paper.

Sorry, I don’t think you guys understand how big of a deal this is for me: I haven’t written ANYTHING down. Nothing. This coming from the woman who writes down things like “charge phone” on her to-do list just to have it written down.

Aftermath
I’m excited to see how NaNo goes with my new pantsing approach. But I’m also terrified. Will I run out of ideas or inspiration one week into November? Maybe half-way through? Will my story be full of plot holes and will some characters have no names? Will some have names I use interchangeably because I can’t remember who is who? Will my story make any sense? Will it be any good?

I’ll admit, I swaddled myself in a pretty thick blanket of panic the other day when I realized I had next to nothing prepared for NaNo yet. But I remembered by days as a Planner (aaaahh the good ol’ days) and recalled that having an outline didn’t make me feel any better about my NaNo projects. It never guaranteed that my writing itself would be good. Or that the story wouldn’t develop a bad case of plot-holes. Everyone has these worries. It’s part of being a writer.

So I’m embracing my new-found urge to start writing from scratch on November 1st. Maybe it’ll be a huge mistake. But maybe it’ll be wonderful.

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Are you a Planner or Pantser (or a mix of the two)? Tell us about your NaNoWriMo Prep – or lack thereof –  in the comments below.