Let the Noveling Begin

This is my third NaNoWriMo, and, unlike last year, when I meticulously outlined an idea throughout October, then scrapped it, and pantsed my way through a fanfiction novel instead come November, I’ve decided to keep the planning vague, and let the plot bunnies roam where they will. Possible stories involve a library, a missing book, and a girl with prosopagnosia (that’s face blindness to you and me); dragons; and lighthouses.

This is not to say that November is catching me unprepared. Despite not knowing where NaNo 2015 will take me, I’ve been stocking up on resources to help me through the times when inspiration fails. Firstly, I picked up this year’s NaNoWriMo Writing Tools StoryBundle, which includes Marie Brennan’s excellent Writing Fight Scenes, and Mark Teppo’s Jump Start Your Novel, both of which I’ve read this week. The latter turned out to be ideal for ‘plantsers’ like me, as it offers ways to create a minimal outline which keeps you on track, but doesn’t require a lot of preparation; something which could also help last-minute NaNoers.

My first port of call for writing prompts is usually WriteWorld whose Image, Sentence and Music blocks offer a range of ways to jolt creativity. The writing.com prompt app also has it’s uses; not only does it offer suggestions from it’s own database, but you can set it to pull random stories from the internet to use as prompts. When I need a name for a new character, the Name Shake app (which links to behindthename.com) is a godsend. If I’m working offline, I pull out a Writing Map, or dig into my writing file (always to be approached with caution as the writing file is an easy route to procrastination).

As NaNoWriMo coincides with a time of year when I’m mostly parenting solo, I know that I’m unlikely to get to any write-ins in person, so I’ll be making the most of the online camaraderie of @NaNoWriMo, @NaNoWordSprints, and @IgglesWrite, over on Twitter. Our Region has a ML for the first time this year, and I’m appreciating the regular email encouragement from them too. Other good sources of coaching are books like Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! (pep talks, exercises, and reminiscences from previous NaNoers, for each week) and Chuck Wendig’s 30 Days in the Word Mines (daily, occasionally sweary, motivation to get that novel written).

It’s also worth thinking about the practical aspects of where, when, and how the writing will be accomplished. My preference is to write longhand, but my first ever NaNo taught me that it’s not the best approach when speed is important.1 Last year I used the Evernote app on my smartphone to write snatches throughout the day, and copied the text over into Scrivener at regular intervals, in order to fit around my newborn’s schedule.2 This year the Tiny Tyrant is old enough to have a regular bedtime, so I’ll be writing straight into Scrivener at my desk each evening, while any stray daytime novelling thoughts will be captured in Evernote. I’ve stocked up on Pukka Three Cinnamon tea, and mini packs of Haribo Tangfastics, and prepped some playlists of film soundtracks to keep me going.

Now I just need to write a novel. Easy.


1. I also didn’t know that I could validate my novel without typing up the manuscript – I should have read the FAQS
2. The downside being that Evernote doesn’t give you a word count.

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