This year I decided to participate in my first-ever NaNoWriMo, which means, in the month of November I will be attempting to write the entire first draft of a brand new novel. Since I consider myself a strong Plotter with a few Pantser tendencies sprinkled in, I decided to take the month of October to prep and plan for this endeavor. If you missed it, check out my Preptober Planning Essentials blog where I shared all of my strategies on plotting for NaNoWriMo.
But throughout all of my novel prep, I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the more practical strategies that I am devising to be sure that I win NaNoWriMo. The following are my survival kit throughout the month of November:
Writeordie.com - I have always been fascinated by the concept of this writing app. If you've never heard of it, it is essentially a tool for writers to keep you typing without pause. There are settings you can choose to decide how many words you want to write within a set amount of time. If you begin to fall short, a slew of "consequences" appear on your screen. To me, this sounded like exactly the kind of tool that could be helpful in pounding out 50,000 words in 30 days.
Writing Sprints/Write-ins - Another tool for getting words on the page is a writing sprint. I'm typically someone who has to think through everything that I type before I actually type it. If I didn't turn off my inner editor while I'm writing, I'd probably never complete a draft. For this reason, sprints are a great tool to let the creative side of your brain out to play. Within a small window of time, you commit yourself to pumping out as many words as you can, usually alongside a writing buddy. Not only does this amp up your competitive nature to beat your partner, but after time you learn to write faster and produce on-demand.
Music Playlist and Pinterest Board - If ever I fall short of motivation to write my story, one thing that always gets me back in my writer's seat is a great source of inspiration. I like to create a music playlist and at least one Pinterest board for my current story. These two things combined create auditory and visual stimulation to help me get in the mood and spirit of the story that sparked my interest in the first place. My playlist is something I generally like to listen to while I'm driving by myself, as I can let my mind wander a bit and brainstorm scenes. My Pinterest boards, on the other hand, are my lifeline whenever I'm feeling stuck in a scene and need a boost to get me back on track.
Outline - Because I'm a Plotter, my outline is absolutely essential to me as I'm drafting. I consider a good outline to be like a road map. For me, even if I know where I'm going, it's hard to figure out how to get there without my map. I get distracted, play games, and make too many pit stops. If you're looking for tips on outlining and story structure, check out my latest Preptober Planning video where I shared my strategies on how I get from my initial concept to a finished outline.
Books in my genre - Reading is another major source of inspiration for me, particularly when I'm reading books in the genre that I'm writing. Whether it be well-written passages that help develop my writing style, conflict ideas, or techniques on character development, there is always something I take away from this practice that helps me write a better story.
Books on craft - As I've mentioned before in my blog and YouTube channel, I'm something of a writing book freak. When I'm not reading fiction, you'll usually find me with a book on something to do with story structure, character development, or any of the various subjects in between. While I'm not planning to do any hard-core research during November, I want to keep a couple of books on hand if ever I get stuck in a scene. Whether I'm not sure how to end it or how to keep it interesting, the book Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell has become my go-to resource of these kinds of structural issues.
Thesaurus - The online thesaurus has become an essential tool for me as I'm continually developing my writing style. This was a practice I didn't use to do, but during my last revision, has been exceedingly helpful in word-replacement. Whenever I find myself selecting the same default words from my usual vocabulary, I type the word into the thesaurus and find a replacement. If you haven't tried this, you'd be surprised by how tremendously this exercise can elevate your writing.
Setting & Emotion Thesaurus - While on the topic of word-replacement, there are two other books on craft that I wanted to include in this kit. Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglish have produced a series of excellent resources for writers. My favorites are the Emotion Thesaurus and Setting Thesaurus two-part companion series for urban and rural settings. I find them helpful in both the pre-planning and drafting stages. These books take an idea, be it a setting or emotion, and break apart all of the ways to write about it using all of the five senses.
Get Outside - While the weather in my hometown is temporarily nice, I plan to take my writing sessions outdoors as often as possible this month. Nature and a nice breeze on my face stirs so many ideas that are hard to replicate in a stuffy office space.
Meal Plan - I definitely want to take advantage of all of the tools in my kitchen to bulk-prep meals for the month of November. Whether this is in my slow cooker or my giant dutch oven, brainstorming meals that can last a week will save me hours of time that I can use for drafting. Even if I'm preparing a regular meal, knowing what I'm going to make ahead of time or doing my shopping for the entire month as opposed to week-by-week, will save me precious writing time. And if you like to plan and prep ahead but aren't sure what to make, I highly recommend Pinterest as a resource for big batch recipes.
Lumbar support cushion & yoga - Any other writers out there struggle with back pain? I hear ya. I've been on the struggle bus for years now. Writing paired with a desk job make it harder to find ways to stay active and loose. However, I've found that getting a good lumbar support cushion (I recommend one with cooling gel) to place in your chair can help tremendously with back aches. This, paired with yoga in the mornings, has made an incredible difference. Since I'm going to be spending even more time in my writing chair for NaNo, I know that I'll be happy to have these tools to keep me pain-free and more productive.
Kanban board - This is a new one for me, but I recently discovered using Kanban boards to track my goals and productivity. You break the board into three sections: To Do, In Process, and Complete. You can use a cork board or an erase board works just as well. This practice, I've found, is especially helpful for the more visual, list-inclined writers out there. I plan to break my word count and/or scenes into sections and place them on the Kanban board for a visual of my progress to keep me motivated and keep my eye on the end goal.
When your confidence wanes, go for the pep talk! Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner is full of 52 different topics to boost your confidence as a writer and creator. Whether it's listening to your favorite writing podcast, asking family and friends to help build you up, or repeating your power mantra to yourself in the mirror every morning, pep talks are essential to remaining confident as a writer and definitely an important item in my survival kit this year.
So that is my NaNoWriMo Surival Kit for 2019! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know what items are in your survival kit in the comments!
This post is part of the October 2019 Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers here!