5 Ways To Prep For NaNo Without Worrying About Your Novel [NaNoWriMo Prep]

NaNoWriMo begins in less than two weeks. Everyone has been talking about novel prep all month long, myself included.

But when it comes to prepping for NaNo, it doesn’t have to be all about your novel. That sounds weird, I know. But there are plenty of other things to think about for the month of November.

5 Ways to prep for NaNo without writing

Writing Space

Where are you going to spend the majority of your time writing? In your office? Your bedroom? Maybe sitting in your living room or porch? Maybe, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll lounge outside.

If you’re going to be sitting somewhere like your desk, make sure that it’s cleared off. Give yourself plenty of room for your laptop, a notebook, a few pens, your mug filled with your drink of choice, etc.

Time

Clear your calendar or at least organize it. Plan our your social obligations, let everyone know you’ll be busy each day between this time and that time. You can get your writing time in and you can also continue to be social so people know you’re alive.

Food

Stock up on your food supplies. Coffee or tea, chocolate, dinner, everything. You may or may not forget to go food shopping.

Clothes

Wash any comfortable clothing you have now. Get that out of the way so you can kick back with your laptop and lounge in your pajamas while writing.

Blog Posts/Work/School

If you have any work to do now, get it done. Any school assignments that you know will be due during the month? Get it done.

Plan, write and schedule your blog posts for November as well. This will leave one less thing for you to do. Because, let’s face it… after writing your novel, you’re not going to want to look at words anymore much less the computer screen.

What else have you been doing to prep for NaNo? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!
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5 Fun And Useful Books Of Writing Prompts [NaNoWriMo Prep]

How do you prep for NaNo?

Most of the time, when I talk about outlining on this blog, pretty much everyone who comments tells me that they don’t outline at all.

So, how do you exactly prep for NaNo, if you prep at all?

I find that writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

5 useful books of writing prompts

3am Epiphany 

This book by Brian Kiteley is filled with various writing prompts and exercises. Prompts that have to do with point of view, characters, emotions, time, and much more. It’s really a great read and great practice.

4am Breakthrough 

Like the previous book, this one, also by Brian Kiteley has more great prompts and exercises. The themes around the prompts are a little different. These exercises have to do with various themes in writing such as love or death. It also goes deeper into friends and family as well as school and the like.

The Amazing Story Generator

This writing prompt book by Jay Sacher is unique as each page is broken into three pieces. It’s spiral bound on the inside and you can move the pages around as you wish. This means endless prompt possibilities for you.

The Write-Brain Workbook

Written by Bonnie Neubauer, this is a big book of prompts. It ranges from scene prompts, scenerio prompts, first lines, pictures, and more.

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts

This is a great one by Martha Alderson. These prompts cater to where you are in your book: the beginning, halfway point, climax, and end. These prompts are pretty in depth, but they’re helpful.

Have you used any of these books? What other books of writing prompts do you use? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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Are You Ready? (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 6)

We can complain that the days and sometimes the weeks can drag on forever. But, if you really think about, the year always flies by. How the days can go so slow and the year go by fast is beyond me, but time is weird. What can I say?

I’m always eager to begin a new NaNo session, whether it’s Camp in April or July, or it’s the hardcore one in November. I’m always waiting and, like always, it comes up way too fast.

But no matter how much you’re prepared (or not prepared), you’re not always 100% ready for it to begin.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo 2016?

October is NaNo prep month for everyone who participates in NaNo (unless you don’t prep at all, but still the anticipation of the challenge is there).

Whether you finish flushing out your novel or not, you’re never going to be ready for NaNo.

I’m sure you’re trying to tell me that you’ve done NaNoWriMo X-amount of years prior to this one. You’ve always outlined and managed to reach your goal. Or you’ve always winged it and managed to reach your goal. Along the way, you came up with new ideas and expanded on old ones.

But while your novel is prepared, your life might not be.

November is a busy month for most. It’s filled with holidays, Thanksgiving at the end of the month, and preparations for December began long ago.

Aside from that, though, you have a job or you have school. If you’re in school you have homework as well. That takes a good chunk of time out of your day.

Of course, you also need to write up your blog posts, read a book or two, occasionally hang out with friends and family.

Oh, and don’t forget that this is when the colder weather really starts to settle in, so get those tissues ready and drink up that orange juice. Getting sick in the middle of NaNo is the worst!

So, what I’m trying to say, if you haven’t gotten it already, is that you can never be too prepared.

You can plan out your novel all you want even set a schedule for yourself for when you’re going to write. However, things come up and plans change.

If something like that happens, and maybe you even get a little behind on your word count because of it, don’t freak out. Remember you still have the same amount of time as the rest of us. You can easily catch up, but don’t write until your fingers bleed, either.

Take your time, allow your novel to breath as you write it. Keep your mind open and fresh.

And if you don’t reach your word goal, remember that you still accomplished something. Even if you only reach 10,000 words, that’s still 10,000 more words than you would have had. You still had more planning done on a novel than you would have without NaNo. You still made new friends and writing buddies.

NaNoWriMo is a fun, stressful challenge. You’re still accomplishing something huge even if you don’t “win.”

Be proud of that and do your best.

NaNoWriMo starts one week from today. This is the home stretch before it all begins. Rest up and good luck!

Are you and your novel ready for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!

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Write What You Don’t Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 3)

Yesterday I explained why, in my opinion, writing what you know is good advice.

No one expects you to write complete nonfiction works of your life. No one expects you to base all of your fictional work on real life experiences.

You need a good balance between what you know and what you don’t know. I mean, let’s be honest here. If you’re writing fantasy, are you ever going to encounter a dragon? I’d say those chances are slim.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep: Write what you don't know

How do I write what I don’t know?

Research, research, research!

I was that kid in school who loved doing projects and essays that you needed to do research for.

Not mention that I’m a 90s kid so I grew up with the evolution of computers and technology. So any excuse to get me to be on the computer was good enough for me.

These days, the Internet is your best friend, though you have to wary of the types of websites you find. Sorry to say that not everything on the Internet is true.

Not even this blog as this is all my opinion. And that’s a fact.

But to be serious, there are many different ways to research.

How do I research?

Like I said, the Internet is a great one. As long as you find credible sources, you have a vast amount of information at your fingertips.

There are also books. The bookstore and the library are your friends. No one goes there as often as they should anymore. Even if you don’t have any research to do, just go in there and sniff a book or two. Better yet, buy a few.

Talk to people. Are you trying to research what it’s like to be a doctor? How to become a doctor? What they’re typical day is like? Talk to any doctors that you know. Ask to interview them. I babysit for a family and the kids’ father is in the Fire Academy. My main character is a detective, but I’ve been getting good insight on what the Police Academy is like. Fire and Police aren’t the same, but they run similar drills and are just as tough to get through.

Another form of research is (wait for it…) real life experiences.

Yes, I just did that.

Wait a minute!

Hold on, I’m still explaining.

I’m not telling you to do research on that hypothetical flat tire you got the other day. No, I’m telling you to research by hands-on experience.

For example, I have to research archery for my novel The Lost Girl. I’ve Googled archery and even looked up writing-related information about it through Pinterest. However, there’s only so much I can read about archery. There’s no feeling behind it.

I can explain how my protagonist holds her bow and pulls back the arrow, but I can’t describe how it feels to actually release the arrow. So, Kris is going to accompany me to an archery class. I’ll tell you all about that when the time comes.

But I’m sure you get my point now. Research is important and so is living. Everything counts and everything helps towards your writing.

Write down all your life experiences, good and bad. Find something that interests you and research it. It’s great material for your stories and you’ll learn something new.

Do you research a lot? What are your methods for researching? Or do you write more true-to-life type stories? Let me know in the comments!

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Write What You Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 2)

Some wise person said to write what you know. Some people agree with this, some people don’t.

What about you? Do you agree with that?

Whether you do or not, I’m not going to tell you this:

Write what you know and write what you don’t know.

Easy enough, right?

Write What You Know NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Why should I write what I know?

You know a lot more than you think, that’s why.

You can draw in most life experiences into your stories. The best research would be your own memory. Look things up in your journal, if you have one and write in it frequently.

How can I write what I know?

Did you get a flat tire on your way to work the other day? Put your character in your shoes. How does getting that flat tire make your character feel? Is he angry because maybe he just got the car fixed? Is he frustrated or worried because now he’ll be late to work? Or maybe he’s heading out to pick up his date and he’s already nervous enough without the flat tire. Or maybe he feels indifferent because he’s in no rush and it is what it is. He can’t do anything about it other than fix it… Or call someone to come fix it for him.

What did you actually do when you got that flat tire? Is that how your character would act? Which character would be best to put in that situation? Play around with it, the possibilities are endless.

But wouldn’t I just be telling my life story as a memoir with a fictional character?

Yes and no.

If you write what you know, you’re creating a relatable situation for your characters and readers to have in common. Yet, you’re not explaining the true story word for word. You have to embellish a little. Fictionalize the situation.

Fine. But how do I do that?

Play the “What If?” game.

What if your character’s tire got flat because someone poked holes in it? What if some unknown force caused the flat tire? What if the mechanic comes down to help fix the tire and that person ends up being your character’s soul mate?

Maybe your character wants to avoid the situation altogether and goes back in time to avoid it. But then maybe he gets stuck back in time. Or maybe he makes it back without realizing he changed one important detail about his life accidentally.

You can twist and turn your own situation into something book-worthy. Turn your own situation into a plot, or into a bigger situation to help move your plot along.

There are a lot of twists and turns out there. There are a lot of, “should I have,” “could I have,” “would I have,” and “what if?” questions out there.

I mean, tell me there hasn’t been a situation in your life where you thought back on it wondering how you could have done things differently.

So, good advice or bad, you should still write what you know. Because your experience by getting fired at your job could be the beginning of your bestseller.

Of course, it’s always best to write what you don’t know as well. Just to mix things up a bit.

But there will be more on that tomorrow.

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October 1st

It’s October Already?

 

Oh, dear Lord…I can’t believe it’s October already. Yesterday when I left work, right before my co-worker got into her car I shouted, “We survived a whole month with these kids! Only eight more to go!”

It’s said because we have very low enrollment. We’re a small, private preschool and have two classrooms. One room is for two- and three-year-olds and the other room is for four- and five-year-olds. We have three kids in the younger room and 12 in the older room leaving our enrollment a total of 15. I was promoted–I have way more responsibilities and I’m also working 40 hours a week now. However, I am still making the same amount I was because we can’t afford to give us raises…we even had to lay one of the teachers off (which is basically the main reason I got bumped up to lead teacher). My paychecks are much bigger than last year, which I am hugely grateful for, but if I was paid what a lead teacher is supposed to be paid…well, I would have an easier time paying for school, wouldn’t I?

Ah, school…one month down, three more to go. My teachers are stupid. Have I mentioned that? All five of my classes end on December 14, but at the beginning of the semester, one professor thought it was a ten-week accelerated course. Do you want to know why he thought this? He thought it was the summer semester, not the fall. Um…I can see mixing up the days of the week, like thinking it’s Friday when it’s really Thursday, but mixing up the months? I mean, there’s a big difference between June and September. Does he not own a calendar? And he (and a couple of my other teachers) re-use lesson plans. I’m all for that, I’m a teacher, I understand what a pain it is and make a new lesson plan. It’s perfectly okay to re-use the same material, but…can you at least proof-read? I mean, this is an English degree, these people are English professors, don’t we know how to proof-read? In one class, the class that was an “accelerated course,” everything is supposedly due June 2013. For another class, this week’s assignments are apparently due in February 2013. I am paying 6,000 dollars this semester. I feel like I’m being ripped off somehow.

But it’s October. And I’m sick. Tomorrow will mark me being sick for a full week. I thought my sickness would start and end in September, but apparently not. I had a really bad cold and from that I got laryngitis. I still can’t talk all that well, but I am doing much better than I was. I know when you get laryngitis the best thing to do is not talk. Yeah, well I’m with a bunch of preschoolers for eight hours of the day. I can’t really rest my body let alone my voice. But as I said, it’s getting better. It’s all a matter of time now.

But I have to admit that I’m sick now rather than later because, well…it’s October. And we all know what October means, right? 30 days (31 days? I was never good at math and never will be) from now it will be the start of…

NaNoWriMoOh, yes! I have been waiting a long time for this. I would rather be sick now during NaNo Prep month rather than NaNo itself. I’ve been sick during November before and it sucked. I wasn’t able to get anything done.

But then I think to myself, “Crap…it’s October 1st.” How am I going to plan? How am I going to make the time with school and work? More importantly, what am I going to write?

Now I have tried to write two novels at the same time before. I’ve tried this a couple of times. It does not work. Not for me, anyway. Especially since I’m at work eight hours a day five days a week and then trying to get homework done in between. Oh, and I have to attempt to have a social life. That’s important…but maybe not for November? I don’t know.

Anyway, I have tried thinking of what I should write. I started this thinking process a couple weeks ago. I thought of something to write, but of course I’m beginning to change my mind. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen because I’m at a loss right now. All I know is that my time is limited because I need to do some serious planning if I want to win. If I don’t plan, I’m most likely going to fail due to being smothered by school and work. At least if I plan, I don’t really have to think. The point of NaNo is to not think and not edit, right? Then again…if you think you’re going to fail, aren’t you setting yourself up to fail?

Oh, well. I never listened to wise quotes like that.