Preptober

NaNoWriMo 2021 Playlist

Here is my NaNoWriMo Playlist. These are songs that make me think of my story. Whether that’s the title of the song, the song lyrics or just the general mood of the song. You might be able to guess the direction I’m taking my story just from some of the titles.

I love closing my eyes and listening to music. It really inspires story ideas – I highly recommend it.

Anyway, it’s another fun tool in my NaNoWriMo toolbox – and something else I can cross off my Preptober checklist.

It was a chilly 40 degrees this morning – Fall is finally here!

I’m currently brainstorming and working out character kinks – stayed tuned!

Remember, you can find me on the NaNoWriMo website at take2max if you want to message me or join my Write Away group! Let’s support each other during this writing challenge!

Preptober

Preptober: Time Management

So I’ve been daydreaming about my NaNoWriMo project. I know the kind of story I want to write and I have a pretty good idea who my protagonist is. Which is a win for me because I usually don’t have any idea what I want to write, which of course, means I have no idea who my characters are and then NaNoWriMo comes around and I’m left floundering.

It’s a Dystopian Fiction story. I mean, if you’ve been reading about my work struggles in healthcare these past few months, you won’t be surprised by this. It will also give me a chance to vent my frustrations and air my “conspiracy theories” as well. It will center around a vaccine but my vaccine will be a lot more nefarious and the “United” States of America actually secedes and is at war with each other. Sort of like Hunger Games meets Dr. Fauci kind of story.

I figured out my writing schedule – sort of. Here’s what I have:

Let me talk through my calendar with you.

Mondays and Wednesdays are clinic days with Dr. M. I have to get to work pretty early on those days so writing in the AM is OUT. No way that’s going to happen. I put AM on a few Thursdays and honestly, I don’t know if that’s going to happen either as I will have to get up at 4:00 AM to write an hour before getting ready for work. We’ll see. The bottom line, I want to get at least 1000 words on those days. There is simply NO WAY I’m going to have the energy to write any more than that. My brain is already taxed, I won’t have anything left over for the story.

Which leaves the weekends. As you can see, I plan on writing the bulk of my words on Saturdays and Sundays. You will notice I have 4000 words on the 11th, and the 15th. I have some time off from work and I’ll have more time to put in more words those days. I hope. We’re actually planning on taking a short camping trip so we’ll see how much writing I actually get in on those days.

Overall, if I stick to the plan, (And let’s be honest, I probably won’t), I will have written about 54,000 words by the 28th. I left the 29th and the 30th free because I will likely need some extra time to catch up – it’s my cushion, if you will. Of course, the 25th is Thanksgiving and no writing will be done that day.

I bought Natalia Leigh’s Preptober workbook. If you would like to buy it you can get it here. She has it set up so that it’s a donation-based product, meaning you can pay whatever you can and think it’s worth. Technically, you can get it for free, but Natalia has worked hard on this workbook and offers a version of it every year so she deserves some compensation for it.

She also posted a video of her working some of the pages and I enjoyed working my pages alongside her. It also gave me some additional ideas for my story as well. You can watch that video here.

Anyway, one of the pages in the workbook is my writing schedule.

You can see, at a glance, what my day looks like and when I plan on writing. Again, the weekends are set aside for writing and on the week days I will try and do some writing after work. I planned to relax right after I got home from work so that I have time to eat, watch a few videos, rest my eyes, (cat nap), and then I should have some energy to write a few hours after that before bed. I think the key, for me, will be knowing WHAT I need to write during the week. So I really want to stay on top of my outline so that I can sit down and actually write something as opposed to just staring at a blinking cursor. This will be the first year I’ve really done outlining  so we’ll see how that goes. I just don’t want to waste those few hours and be as productive as I can possibly be.

I’m taking Thursday evenings off to decompress and recharge. And Saturday nights are reserved for the Right From Us podcast that Kevin and I film together.

And in case you’re curious, yes, you’re reading the schedule correctly. I get up at 5:00 AM every day, get ready for work, then I take some time to cool off, relax and chill before actually finishing my routine and going to work. To me, it’s worth getting up an hour early in order to relax and fully wake up before heading off to work. I could try and get in a few words in that time period but again, it will depend on where I am in the story and whether I have anything to write.

I also filled out the Self Care Bingo page in Natalia’s workbook. This is a game of bingo where I do various activities to decompress and once I get a Bingo, I will reward myself. With what, I don’t know yet. But some of the activities on my self-care bingo page are:

  1. Read
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Take day off
  4. Lie in bed and listen to music (this really helps with story ideas)
  5. Watch YouTube
  6. Blog
  7. Buy one Starbucks coffee (Fall tradition. I love Starbucks products but can’t stand the company and the fact their coffees are so expensive, so, one it is).
  8. Podcast
  9. Buy a protein drink (a nurse at work told me about a protein drink place nearby and I want to try it out).
  10. Meditate
  11. Nap
  12. Camp

Anyway, that will be fun to “play” and will force me to relax and recharge which you honestly need during NaNoWriMo because the experience is really fun, but intense.

I’m now going to focus on starting my outline and trolling Pinterest to start boards for my characters. I did that last year and it was fun to put a face with a name.

I’m also Take2max on the NaNoWriMo site if you want to look me up. Once you find me, go to groups and you can join my Write Away group. Writing is lonely and it’s fun to have someone to talk to throughout the experience.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what are you doing to prepare?

Preptober

It’s Time for Preptober!

NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is an annual writing challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November, for those of you that may not have been aware of it’s existence. (NaNoWriMo also offers Camp NaNoWriMo every April and July. The camps are more laid back as far as “requirements.” They are just another tool to add to your writing toolbox to try and motivate you to write).

Here’s a good article to read if you’re waffling on whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Preptober is a term someone clever came up with to prep for NaNoWriMo during the month of October.

First of all, you don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo if you don’t want to. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. But let’s face it, writing is lonely. And I personally need something to motivate me to write, whether it’s this blog, or my bullet journal because I’ve had a bad day and I need to VENT and PURGE my thoughts and feelings because doing so in real life could cost me dearly. *ahem*

You could prep … any month you chose to.  You are the king, or queen, of your castle. There are no rules.

First things first, what project do you want to work on?

  • Novel
  • Short story
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction
  • Autobiographical
  • True Crime
  • Blogging
  • Other

Whatever you write, whether you’re published or not, YOU’RE A WRITER. If you can put words to paper and make them coherent and/or interesting, then you’re a writer. There are no requirements to this challenge, if you want to write and you’re up to a challenge, then you’re in.

You don’t have to be writing a novel to participate in this challenge. Maybe you want to write several blog posts. Or poems. Or your life story. Or short stories. (I did that one year for NaNoWriMo). Whatever writing project you want to do, you can participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s not about writing a novel, it’s about writing in general. It’s about pushing yourself to do the thing you’ve always said you wanted to do. It’s about unleashing your creativity and shutting down your inner critic. Your inner critic can be released at the end of the challenge. For now, it’s just you and your imagination. This challenge gives your creativity permission to be run naked and wild through the sunflowers.

(Figuratively speaking, of course).

Secondly, when you plan your writing, do you want to use:

  • The Synopsis Outline (a one/two page summary of your story)
  • The In-Depth Outline (the detailed outline that most of us [or me] run from)
  • The Snowflake Method (you expand your story, little-by-little)
  • The Bookend Method (figure out the beginning and the end and free-write the middle)
  • By the Seat of your Pants or Pantsing (little to no planning – you just start writing)
  • The Headlight Method (plan, write to the end of the plan, see where it goes, plan, write …etc)

I’m sure there are other ways, but these are the most common.

It’s important to know how you plan on writing before you actually write. For me personally, I love the pantsing method. I love to see where my characters take me. And they often take me to surprising places. It’s fun and I thoroughly enjoy it.

However ….

I inevitably get to a point in the story where I have no idea where it’s going, how it’s going to end and does it even make sense at this point? I then get frustrated/discouraged and just chock the whole project. This is why I love short stories because I can write to the point where I get stuck and then, well, it’s a short story, it’s SUPPOSED to end, right??

I’d like to flex my writing muscles a bit this go around. I want to combine both the bookend method and the headlight methods. I want a start, a general ending, and then loosely plan the chapters, allowing my characters to take me somewhere, but at the same time, put up road signs for them to follow along the way. I could write a full outline but ZzZzZzzz .. it sounds so boring. But then again, I said I would NEVER outline, in any form, a mere ten years (minutes?) ago, so, don’t hold me to that.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the Preptober stuff.

I’ve participated quite a few times in NaNoWriMo over the years, I’ve won a few years. But I never plan ahead and by the time the proverbial gun goes off at the starting line, I’m left in the dust blinking in confusion. Where to start? So. In an attempt to avoid that feeling, I want to actually be as prepared as I can be this go around.

Hence, Preptober.

Because I’m a big child at heart, I like to make things fun. So when I found this Preptober Bingo placard, I couldn’t resist to share it with you guys.

You can find more fun cards at Ink and Times. (I put the free space on there. I figured, free space equals one day off to decompress). The site even offers ideas on what to put on your Bingo card. For example here are the ones that caught my attention from the site and from this site that I think will work for me:

  • Update NaNoWriMo Account
  • Logline and Tagline
  • Brainstorm Your Plot
  • Brainstorm Your Subplot(s)
  • Bookend Beginning
  • Bookend Ending
  • Get To Know Main Character(s)
  • Get To Know Supporting Character(s)
  • Get To Know Villain(s)
  • Get To Know Setting(s)
  • Find Location Inspiration
  • Find Character Inspiration
  • Create Inspiration Board
  • Write A Synopsis
  • Creating A Writing Playlist
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (1)
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (2)
  • Find Writing Groups
  • Preptober Workbook

I want to work toward some sort of reward, and I will DEFINITELY reward myself if (WHEN) I win NaNoWriMo, but for now, it feels weird to reward myself for prepping. (Yay! Good job, Karen! You prepared for your challenge!) Uh … no.

But, I thought it would be fun to make prepping for NaNoWriMo more fun. Feel free to copy this for yourself, if you like.

Here are some more helpful resources in planning for NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo? And How to Win in 2021

Helping Writers Become Authors has a good section on how to outline for NaNoWriMo.

I plan on using the SmartEdit program as my writing software of choice. I’ve been liking it so far and best part – IT’S FREE.

If you Google Preptober and/or use the #preptober hashtag on Twitter, you will stumble across many more resources – the ideas are endless. These are the rabbit holes I tend to get sucked into (hence the reason I gave myself two research days because I loves me some research, ya’ll!) and if reading over these ideas and resources doesn’t inspire you then … I’ve got nothing else.

I’ll try and remember to update you on my Bingo card throughout the month of October. I’d like to post excerpts from my NaNoWriMo project in November, too.

I think my biggest challenge won’t be the writing part – I can write/type fast and make my characters do/say all sorts of stupid things, no, I think my biggest challenge is going to have the energy to actually write. Working 40 hours, making time for family, holidays, and you know, SLEEPING, and then finding the energy and time to actually write something …. that’s going to be hard. The few years I won NaNoWriMo I wasn’t working so …. that should tell you something.

We are also planning a short camping trip in November, which we plan on vlogging, so it will be challenging to find time to write while doing that, too.

Anyway. I hope this information was helpful and that I’ve given you some places to check out and poked your writing beast.

By the way, my Wrimo username is Take2max if you want to look me up on the NaNoWriMo site and friend me. I even made a writing group on the NaNoWriMo site called Write Away if you want to chat. (Search for that name when you go to your NaNoWriMo account under “groups.” Send me a note and I’ll send you an invite).

I freaking love this time of year!

Preptober

Less Than One Day to Go!

Are you ready?

Of course you’re not ready – is anyone truly ready for this monster?

I have a few tricks up my sleeve. As mentioned, I will be working on my novel as well as blogging and/or writing short stories to keep the creative juices flowing. I know me, and I know I will get bored out of my skull if I’m ONLY working on one thing at a time. So. I have my handy-dandy index cards close by so when an idea strikes, I can add it to my stack. Ideas usually pop into my head when I’m reading something, or writing something unrelated. (This is how I prep for my podcasts, too. I’ll be watching a video, or reading an article and suddenly, I have an idea to talk about and I write it in my podcast journal. Yes, I have a podcast journal because I’m TRYING to be organized here).

Some last minute tips:

I’m using SmartEdit Writer software for my novel. It’s similar to Scrivener but it’s FREE. I’m loving it so far. Try it out!

Here’s someplace you can host writing sprints – for either you or for a group! Writing sprints really work well if you need a concentrated time period of just writing. I will be trying the Pomodoro Technique – I think that will work well for me. (Remember the short attention span when it comes to writing … but only when it comes to writing – not sure why that is).

Here are some writing prompts if you’re still looking for an idea …

Sixty things for your characters to do

Character flaws … because let’s face it, our darling characters MUST be flawed. Who wants to read about someone perfect??

Don’t have a story theme? Here are some ideas

These are just a few of my resources. I hope they’re helpful to you. Maybe they will spark an idea … or two. Don’t feel like you HAVE to work on just one project – maybe you have several ideas in your head – write them all. It’s perfectly fine to be a NaNoWriMo rebel. Don’t fight your writing process. Embrace it. The important thing is to continue writing, no matter what that looks like.

My plan? *sigh* Who knows. My next writing project is to post Maya’s PRE story. I think it will help me understand what makes her tick if I write THE moment that shaped her personality and her beliefs. I have quite a few scenes written out in my index outline and maybe I’ll get a few more if I write her PRE story.

I still want to blog and I know I simply won’t if I put all of my eggs into my novel basket. I think it’s important, for me at least, to step back and take a breath of fresh air from my novel and shift gears a bit on to something else. Kevin and I are still participating in our podcast every week and I’m working on recording my own podcast each week, not to mention, still trying to read books though now I don’t think I’m going to make my 100 book goal since I will be lucky to read one book a week, let alone two plus a week like I’ve been doing up to this point. (I changed my goal to 90 books – because I’m a wimp).

Oh well.

Anyway. Don’t get too stressed about NaNoWriMo. The project is what you make of it and for me, I simply want to develop a habit of writing on a daily basis again – however that looks for me.

Good luck, Blogfam!

Preptober

Outline Your Novel Using Index Cards

It’s a puzzle, LITERALLY.

Outlining your novel with index cards is a lot of work, but it also makes a lot of sense. When I watched Sarra’s video, a light bulb went off over my head. I went out and bought a pack of index cards with four colors.

Act I is pink, Act II, part one, is light blue, Act II, part two is yellow, and Act III is baby green.

And side note: breaking up Act II into two parts makes a lot of sense to me, as well. As I heard someone describe the middle of your novel once – it’s the creamy, gooey filling of a delicious éclair. That’s certainly a better description than what I typically ascribe to it. *ahem*

Are all of my index cards filled out? Nope. Not even close. But laying the cards out and then writing in my beginning scenes and my ending scenes, at least, my ending as it plays in my head now, that could, and likely will, change as I get closer to the end, and then sticking scenes that pop into my head into the puzzle as they come to me, REALLY helped me. It doesn’t give me an exact view of my story, but it definitely gives me enough to start writing. I will add and change scenes as I write because I don’t like to outline fully, I like my characters to “speak” to me as I write, but I think using this method of outlining will REALLY help me as I go through the process and will likely help me not get AS stuck.

Because I’m not going to pretend I won’t get stuck. I will. And my plan when I get stuck is to move on to another writing project. Whether that’s blogging, journaling, writing short stories, or writing anything, really, and then I can get back to my novel with fresh eyes.

I understand my writing self more now. I get bored. I like to flit from project-to-project. I’m used to never finishing something completely as my day job is never ending and I’m NEVER caught up, it’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak. I am a medical assistant and when you juggle 40+ patients a week, scheduling them for testing, appointments, preparing a short synapsis of why they are coming in and comorbidities for my doctor and mid-level, answering phone calls and returning phone calls, addressing messages from my co-workers about patients, covering for other medical assistants when they’re out and all the miscellaneous work, I’m never caught up. All I can do is stay about 24-hours ahead of the “old” stuff. So I’m used to juggling several things at once and I think that’s why I get bored with one project. I like having several irons in the fire, it’s what I’m used to and I thrive on multi-tasking.

Anyway, I’m excited about this “puzzle” approach to outlining and I’m very thankful to Sarra Cannon for sharing her knowledge with us. This is the first time I’ve approached NaNoWriMo feeling comfortable with my “plan.” Which is what, you ask? I’m going to reach my 50,000 word count working on a variety of projects. I will be a NaNoWriMo Rebel because why not? That’s pretty much how I approach life, I bend rules. I don’t necessarily break the rules, but I definitely bend the rules.

I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me.

And I hope you’re as ready as you can be for NaNoWriMo because, Blogfam, it’s nearly here!

(Pst – you can find me on the NaNoWriMo website under the username: take2max!)

 

Preptober

Plotting Pitfalls

Found another writing YouTuber: Diane Callahan – Quotidian Writer – this was really interesting to watch and it sparked several ideas for my NaNoWriMo project.

I hope it does the same for you.

Also – found something else that would be a useful tool next month: Word Sprints

I mean, you could easily just time yourself for word sprints but I like that you can set up a group sprint for and your friends.

Anyway, just a passing thought.