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It’s almost Samhain/Halloween, and that means that National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner!
You probably know by now that I’m a big proponent of NaNoWriMo, and even used it to write large chunks of my published books. I am very much goal and gamification driven, and the idea of writing 50,000 words in a month with a community and getting cute badges on my profile page as I hit my goals is very compelling for me.
I know it’s not for everyone! Some folks feel pressure in the wrong way for them to try and put out a set amount of words in a month. Luckily, NaNoWriMo is YOU driven, and that means you can make your own rules. Example: I’m actually working on the same novel this year that I was last year. That means I’m coming into the month with a plotline and characters established and about 25,000 words down in Scrivener. I’m still going to try for 50,000 more, but if I don’t make it, I’m not going to beat myself up over it! Here’s why:
IF ANY WORDS GET WRITTEN THAT MEANS THAT I’M A WINNER. That applies to YOU, too.
So don’t get hung up on the “big official” goal. Set your own – if you want! – and join in. Or don’t, and cheer those of us on who enjoy this sort of challenge!
I previously listed out some of the tools that I like and use, and how I use them, but I wanted to give you an updated version of that post for this year. Most things are the same, but I have some new insights and experiences after publishing two books using these methods, and I wanted to share!
Scrivener is my #1 way to write my manuscripts now. I like the functionality of the program, which works really well with my organization style. There are plenty of templates, including specific ones for NaNoWriMo! I can see what each chapter has at a glance, and the character sketch template is really helpful. It will also compile your manuscript in a bunch of different ways/styles easily.
I also edit using Scrivener, but usually in conjunction with Google Docs. The reason for that is the editors I’ve worked with usually prefer that method as they can leave notes and we can correspond through them. I make the corrections in a copy of my manuscript in Scrivener. [Usually I end up with a LOT of versions of the work in progress, and yes, I do keep them all!]
I also do all my own editing and revision in Scrivener.
When it comes to the writing process, I have a couple of websites I find invaluable. One is Word Hippo, which is a thesaurus/dictionary but also helps when you need to find words or rhymes, or aren’t sure how to pronounce something. I use this site constantly. Slick Write is another website I lean on heavily. You can check your grammar in seconds, for free, and get suggestions on how to improve it. Obvious this won’t replace an editor, but it is a great way to get your words ready for a professional editor, which will save you both time and probably you some money. Also, it is never a bad thing to learn how to tighten up your writing!
I want to give a special mention to Writing With Color, a Tumblr blog that is dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial, ethnic and religious diversity. The suggestions and discussions here are extremely helpful! Just the page on skin tone descriptions alone could be a creative writing course all by itself. I highly suggest taking the time to go through the posts here, you’ll learn a lot no matter who you are or what your background is.
Need to create a language for your Fantasy world? Vulgar is what you want.
I’ve mentioned Trello before, too. I use it frequently for many aspects of my life, but the way it helps me keep organized in my writing is why I recommend it to everyone. I keep all the details that I need at my fingertips there, including my story outline, character and location details, music lists, and things like plot devices.
I also keep all my pertinent links for promotion as well as my blurbs and other texts there. It keeps everything organized and there’s even a record of every change I make there, which is the kind of recordkeeping I love.
If you decide to try out Trello and want some help setting it up for your books, let me know!
I don’t wanna do this alone!
I get this so much! Community is my jam and the writing community is a fantastic place to get support and inspiration. There are a lot of great writing groups and support out there, so I’m just going to mention a couple here.
First up are the forums and regional groups right on the NaNoWriMo site! You can find a group here on almost any topic. Whether you’re trying to decide if you’re a planner or pantser, or you want feedback on your writing, you’ll find a post or group. You can also connect with local groups and do things like write-ins in person!
I have a group on Facebook called Magic, Music, Mayhem where I’m building support and insightful community for writers. During the month of November I’ll be doing some writing sprints there and posting lots of inspirational words to get us all fired up!
Mayyyyy…..beeee….. maybe you don’t think you can do this without heavy-duty support? Or maybe you think you’d rather write on a different schedule than 50,000 words in a month, with someone to coach you along and provide a community of other people just like you? You might be looking for Caitlin Fisher’s Working Title Writing Incubator!
If you want structure that isn’t TOO structured, guidance instead of must-dos, deep insight that will lead you to genuine successes – Caitlin is who you’ve been looking for.
Caitlin Liz Fisher is an anti-capitalist coach for neurodivergent, disabled, and queer creatives finding the courage to prioritize their passions. They focus on helping clients navigate the “brain bullshit” (including imposter syndrome and whatever your mother would think) to help you go for the thing that truly brings you joy. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, I recommend checking out Working Title Writing Incubator.
So what about it? Do you have an idea for a story?
Even if you don’t, you can to read mine [yay!] and follow my progress as I work on A Third Kind of Madness. Before I sign off to do all the last minute NaNoWriMo prep, want to see my fun cover image placeholder? This looks nothing like what the finished cover will look like, but I love doing these placeholders so much!
Stuart DankerOctober 30, 2022 at 11:15 pm
Scrivener is a great piece of software for sure. But I’ve been experimenting with plain text, and that seems like a minimalist alternative as well. Thanks for sharing and wishing you all the best with NaNo!
Christiane KnightOctober 31, 2022 at 10:40 am
Hey Stuart, thanks for commenting! I agree, there’s something to be said for minimalism – especially if you’re prone to distractions. When I first started writing I used to use good ol’ Notepad, then I’d format everything later. I still sometimes use it when I just want to jot things down with no fuss. Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?
Stuart DankerOctober 31, 2022 at 10:02 pm
Nah, have never joined NaNo, but I do try to write every day, just not with a 1,667 word count 😛