One of the most important pieces of preparing for NaNoWriMo is to gather my resources.
Now, not all resources can be gathered in the same way. My resources are not just tangible things, like the books I love to reference or the word count stickers I use in my planner that bring me joy. My resources also include my time and my space. Preparing my time involves making sure I set aside time to write toward my word count, both with my friends and on my own. This year will be different in that the write-ins I hope to schedule will happen virtually and that’s OK. I know already that one of my key resources for writing time will be my Friday nights. Friday nights for my husband and I are for pursuing our passion projects, when he meets with his band and I work on my writing. I know those nights will be essential to catching up on my word count because the weeks are going to go how they are going to go. The other essential resource, my space, is going to be a very fluid thing this year. I’m used to writing all over, from my car to my oldest daughter’s dance studio to my local library, but this year it will all be at home, though not at my desk. I have a desk in our office space in the basement, though I rarely visit it these days. My husband and oldest daughter work and do school in the basement while my youngest daughter and I have taken up residence in the dining room. I’m hoping the stolen sentences I can write in the moments between supporting my daughter’s Kindergarten learning will help me crawl toward that word count. I plan to write there, at my couch, in bed, and wherever else my motivation and energy finds me to get the story on paper.
I think it goes without saying that writers love a good book. For NaNoWriMo, I LOVE a good book that supports me in the journey. The one I’ve used the most and has helped me, especially during that slump I hit during days 12-14 and 23-26 historically, is Fast Fiction by Denise Jaden. It’s a book I’ve gifted to several friends and family members and it’s a first recommendation I give when anyone asks me about what helped me write a complete manuscript. Fast Fiction begins with exercises to prepare for writing a draft in 30 days and then addresses each day of NaNoWriMo with a brief discussion of where in the draft a writer should be based on the thirty days of the challenge. What I love about this book is that it is helpful to both the planners (those who want to plan out what they will write before the challenge begins) and the pants-ers (those who want to begin the challenge on November 1st without any plan about what they will write.) I have a dear friend who is a pants-er and she amazes me with her writing each time. 🙂 For whichever way a writer wants to go about the challenge, this has been and continues to be a great resource. I wanted to find another book to use as a resource this year and in my searching I found the book No Plot? NoProblem! by Chris Baty, who is the founder of NaNoWriMo, though I didn’t know that until I started reading the book. This book also begins with a section preparing for the writing challenge, drafting a story idea, and thinking about each aspect of writing a complete draft of a manuscript. The second part of the book addresses each week of the challenge, with issues, tips, and exercises depending on which week in the challenge a writer is facing down. I’m excited to have both resources to reach for this year and I’d recommend this and Fast Fiction to both seasoned and newbie writers taking on the challenge.
Last week I relocated both of these books to the hutch in my dining room (along with the drafts of MS:SB I’m using for reference while I revise that manuscript right now because, let’s be real, I live in my dining room now) and revisited my Scrivener doc I created for NaNoWriMo. I made sure the Scrivener doc was ready with a new page titled for each day of the challenge. It’s a simple thing, but really impactful. I’ve done it the last few years and it’s something I always thank my past self for. I never cease to be grateful to my past self when I open the doc and see that blank page waiting for me, because I know my past self believed that I could do it, even if my present self arrives to the page weary or disenchanted. I also made sure I did a free write about my story idea for NaNoWriMo, MS:A. In the first books of this trilogy, MS:D and MS:S, the characters in the novels haven’t met before. They are each journeying simultaneously within the world of the story, and it’s not until the end of book two, MS:S, that the characters meet at the very end of the novel. It was very important to me to free write about these characters being together, how they react to each other, and how they share space together. The free write was helpful, but I realized I don’t actually know where the characters go once they’ve met. This week I want to work on structuring the three acts of the story and really get a handle on what the complete draft will be at the end of the challenge.
What’s a favorite resource you reach for when drafting a manuscript? In case you haven’t been told today, you’re doing a great job and you are more than enough.
Side note: this hutch only looks so nice and orderly because everything else that lives on it was scattered on the dining room table behind me. That view was not so organized. 😳