Hello, friends! 🙂
It’s Preptober–a nickname given to October as writers and authors alike get ready for National Novel Writing Month in November, and I thought I would do a little series about it for the coming weeks leading up to November!
Here is a little blog post/to-do list for myself of all the things I like to have ready or need to get ready as we head into the most wonderful time of the year! If any writers are reading this, please feel free to follow along and do your own lists! AND TAG ME. I want to read about your strategies.
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me personally, I absolutely LOVE writing to curated playlists. I have so many for writing, too–I have ones for specific projects, ones for specific moods, and a gigantic one of a mishmash of instrumentals and songs! They’re also really fun to make, which is what I’m most excited about for Preptober. I’ll be organizing my Spotify and remaking all of the ones I made last November for my current project, #IceFantasy2018.
2. PINTEREST BOARDS
Ahhh, yes. That blasted Pinterest. The website that people use to procrastinate and find their perfect wedding, hairstyles, or, as I use it, photos to match the theme of a novel. Whilst I have spent many a night procrastinating on Pinterest, scrolling through thousands of photographs of girls with half of their faces cropped off for the PERFECT photo that encapsulates my main character, I will say that it’s been a great way for me to get my mind’s eye imagining, my creative juices flowing. While I wouldn’t recommend it for ACTUAL NaNo time, before is okay! And now that they’ve introduced the Sections feature, I can organize all my photos into specific folders, such as characters or countries. It’s a great way to visualize the world you’ve created. I’ve recently reorganized all of mine, and I feel so much better about the state of things.
Now you may be wondering, “Jess, what the heck is an aesthetic?” Ahh, sweet summer child. An “aesthetic” is a sort of moodboard, where one compiles a bunch of photos for a specific theme, or even just to get a feel of the novel. An example would be of this one that I used for the #ThursdayAesthetic tag on Twitter, with the prompt: Atmosphere.
There are so many ways in which this is helpful. It’s kind of like Pinterest, where creating a moodboard helps get a feel for a specific place, chapter, scene, character, or relationship. Also, if you’re not a Twitter user, I highly suggest getting an account! The writing community on there is great, and I’ve made a lot of friends that are so supportive of my novels. Make some for your novel, even if it’s just an inkling right now! There are many phone apps that make it easy, too–you don’t have to be fancy like me and use Photoshop.
This is one of the less fun aspects of Preptober. I am, by nature, a plotter, and if you’re the opposite (called a pantser), you can skip this step, but I highly suggest you dont, because it’ll make it easier for you in the long run! I’ve been, recently, plotting all of my chapters out and sticking notecards on a corkboard so that it’s easily accessible for me, and it’s been doing wonders for my anxiety and confidence level going into this November. Even if you’re not as thorough as I am, lightly outlining will save you from getting confused and discouraged when you have to type through all of that mid-November, and will prevent writer’s block (somewhat).
5. NANO BUDDIES
This point goes along with joining Twitter–having friends who are doing NaNoWriMo with you is a great way to keep morale–and have someone to bitch with. I find that a lot of people in my life don’t quite understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, and that’s okay, but finding writer buddies has been great for my self-esteem, and it’s just nice having someone who knows what you’re going through (because let’s be real, writing is a trip, and NaNo can sometimes get unreal stressful). So MAKE FRIENDS! The easiest way, as I’ve mentioned, is getting involved in the writing community. Comment on people’s aesthetics, follow lots of people, encourage them–it’s not hard to get into the hearts of writers, and I guarantee you’ll meet people on Writer Twitter that you’ll be friends with for life.
6. SIGNING UP TO THE NANO WEBSITE
This is an important one! The NaNo website offers a wide scope of resources–from forums, local group meetups (FRIENDS!!!), and badges to move you along in your wordcount and keep your morale up. There’s also a handy-dandy wordcount tool that will automatically update your wordcount whenever you use it, which is great for saving time on doing all those math problems! Along with this, there’s also a function to be Writing Buddies with people on the website, including friends you know. It’s a great way to thrive in competition, if that works for you! You can also upload an excerpt of your novel to get people interested in it.
7. DECIDING ON A WRITING PROGRAM
This one is a toughie for some, because it’s always hard to know where you’re going to write! For me personally, I like using Scrivener, because it has lots of options, such as a corkboard to set up your chapters, a timeline function, a wordcount function, and more! There are lots of programs out there that are (usually) free, though, such as Google Docs! I just like the extra help and options that Scrivener gives me.
(Here is a great page on some options for book writing software!)
8. GETTING A NOTEBOOK
While I do use Scrivener, I also like to have a notebook with me everywhere during NaNoWriMo, and honestly, most of the year, too. It’s where I keep a progress of my wordcount, a profile of all the characters in my novel (and which ones I kill), worldbuilding, and an outline. I also use it for if the inspiration strikes and I’m not by my computer (i.e. the train or out with friends). My best friend Clarisse has a wonderful blogpost about the way that she organizes her notebooks that I think is super helpful, and we have a lot of similarities in the way we set them up.
9. STOCKING UP ON TEA
Okay, so this one is a mild joke, but actually though–stocking up on various hot drinks will give you all the strength you need! I drink SO much tea when I’m writing, especially since it gets really cold in Canada during the winter (hello, -40C winters).
And there you have it! I hope this was helpful/enjoyable to read! Comment below if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and what your tips and things to do are for Preptober!