How to Prepare for Nanowrimo When You Don’t Plot

It’s that glorious time of year again. That time when thousands of people frantically write a new novel together. It’s like a writer’s Christmas time.

This year I have given myself the extra challenge of releasing a book four days after nanowrimo ends, which means I will be writing a brand new book from scratch while I’m promoting a Ethan & Juliet. Yes, I probably lost my mind, but it seemed like a really good idea in July when I was an anxiety ridden mess. Now that it’s here, I’m committed.

My 2018 Nanowrimo novel is actually a companion novel to Ethan & Juliet. It will be the third and final book in the series, starring Juliet’s little sister, Colleen. Colleen doesn’t have a huge part in Ethan & Juliet, but she has a few of my favorite lines. She has a practicality and clarity to her that Juliet lacks. That same practicality can get her in trouble a lot though, which is why the beginning of the novels finds her more or less moving back in with her parents at 26. *wince*

If you want to know what it’s like preparing for nanowrimo as a pantser, you should check out my Instagram for a look at my brainstorming.

I don’t do a lot outwardly to prepare for Nanowrimo. I do a lot of mulling and thinking, and a little bit of note taking. Otherwise I spend time making sure I have the tools I need to make November go as easily as possible. Since I’m going to spend most of the month with my mind wrapped up in figuring out how this story unfolds as I write, I take steps to make life easier on myself.

    • I’m going to clean and organize my office
    • I’m going to find a couple of meal plans on pinterest so I don’t have to think about cooking or groceries, just go by what the list says.
    • I’ve announced my novel on the nanowrimo site, complete with synopsis
    • I made a cover for my novel
    • I started a playlist (started being the keyword, there’s only five songs so far)
    • I started a Pinterest board–again started, there are only two pins so far, because the only I know for sure is who my characters are. (I don’t actually use Pinterest boards for inspiration, I use just do them for fun and sometimes research.)

The other thing I do is give myself a daily goal of 2000 words–every year. That way I’m ahead of the game from the very beginning.

My personal goal is usually to hit 50,000 by Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving is on a reasonable date like the 27th, that’s totally doable. Since Thanksgiving is the 22nd this year, I highly doubt I’m gonna make that. I’ve chosen the the 26th as my 50,000 word goal.

What’s the number one thing I do to ensure a nanaowrimo win?

I pre-order the winner shirt before November even starts. I have literally invested money in this, and I can’t spend money on a shirt I’m not going to wear. And I can’t wear a winner shift if I don’t actually win. So, I write my 50,000 words and wear that darn shirt everyday for basically the entire month of December, because that’s how good it feels.

Are you doing Nanowrimo? What are you doing to prepare?

Hurray, it’s December!

And I made it through another year of Nanowrimo. I hit 50,000 words the day before Thanksgiving, and haven’t touched the story since…It still needs an ending, and I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything with this one, but it was a needed break from the novel I’ve been working on for a year, and it feels fantastic to hit that 50K mark.

For December, I have a few other goals in mind. First and foremost, I’d like to make up for some of that blogging time I missed in November. I missed you guys. I hope your Novembers rocked. (I know many of you are waiting for the latest installment of the Selling Wihtout Fear series. Look for that next week.)

My other goal for this month is to get some Christmas crafting done. I’ve been experimenting with candles lately–which could easily become a new obsession. Little tins like the ones in the photo below are so fun and easy to make.

Christmas gift crafting in progress.

A photo posted by Marla (@tinydinostudios) on

And of course, I’ve been making a little Christmas soap. I love how pretty the rose petals are.

Grapefruit Rose soap out of the mold.

A photo posted by Marla (@tinydinostudios) on

Something about winter makes me want to experiment with balms and body butters and bath salts. It’s all I can think about lately, but that could just be that my brain needs a wee break from fiction writing.

What are your plans for December?

Nanowrimo 2015

(All of you checking back for the start of my series on specialty retail tips I promise you, it is coming. Every time I sit down to write about, I realize there is more and more I need to cover to be truly thorough. Honestly, I could write a book on the subject. Maybe someday I will. For now, I’m just going to geek out over writing books.)

Print

Nanowrimo kicks off in just under two weeks, and I couldn’t be more stoked. I haven’t been writing regularly since I finished the latest draft last year’s Nano project at the end of September, and I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been reading like crazy, tinkering with the novel project, working on blog stuff, but really, I have been counting down the days to when I can sit down and lose myself in a new project.

At this point, most blog posts I’ve read celebrating the imminence of November usually give tips about prepping your story and how to develop your characters. All that’s well and good, but it’s not how I do things. I can’t outline shit. Never could, not even a term paper. I’m a total pantser. Writing for me is about sitting down and doing it. I discover my plot and my characters along the way. I’m totally one of those writers who talks about their characters like they are real people instead of figments of my imagination. Which means that I have no clue what sort of story I’m going to be writing come November 1st, because I don’t even know if my main character is a man or a woman. A criminal or a saint. A vagabond or a homebody. But I am itching to find out.

With nothing more than a starting sentence and a vague notion that it would be fun if there was a brothel and possibly some time travel, I have no idea where my story is going. I’m not giving myself any rules to follow. The project I’ve been working on for the past year was set in present-day in my home town. It should be no surprise, that for this new project, I have no clue, though I might pull a Harlan Ellison and call every place Topeka. It might be a cattle town in the past, or an outpost in the future. I’m sure I’ll know for sure by November 2nd or 3rd.

Do I sound crazy?

Once upon a time I used to think Nanowrimo was a little crazy. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days was insurmountable. Especially without a plan. I was lucky to get a couple hundred words out each day between work and kids and having no time to settle down and think about a story.

But then last year, I sat down and I did it.

That’s all it took. Sitting down and committing to getting 1667 words on the page each day.

They weren’t good words. I’ve changed most of them in the ensuing ten months, but it doesn’t matter. Out of those 50,000 words, I got a story. And I have spent most days since I finished putting just as much work into my manuscript as I did during November when I was composing my shitty first draft, and it hasn’t even been a sacrifice.

Join me this year! Do the insurmountable! Be my writing buddy! I’m tinydino. Find me! Keep track of my progress! (And if you’re curious enough, you might be able to find an excerpt from the (revised) first chapter of the novel from last year.)

Happy Nanoing!

It’s 5am on a Saturday, and I Have Been Awake for Ages

Good morning all. How are you this lovely, cold Saturday morning. I am sitting in bed, in the dark, because I have very successfully woken myself. The last time the baby woke up to eat, about an hour and a half ago, he woke me up out of the middle of a sleep cycle. To avoid falling asleep while I was feeding him, I started thinking about work–well, apparently nothing gets my blood boiling in the pre-dawn hours than thinking about things I can’t do anything about until Monday.(He, of course, ate and went back to sleep immediately.) Next time, I am going to try to think about something more fun, like flowers or yarn.

It’s November 15th, and for the first time ever, I am keeping up with Nanowrimo. Usually by now I have completely given up on the whole endeavor. My first weekend in November is notoriously busy, and so I always start out the month a few days behind on my word count, and then I never catch up, and by the beginning of the second week I am too daunted by the sheer volume of words I am missing, and instead of writing for writing’s sake for the rest of the month, I just give up on the whole enterprise completely and for the rest of the year the only thing I write are blog posts and grocery lists.

Considering I have a degree in creative writing, this is pretty embarrassing.

This year, I decided I was really going to finish. I didn’t have a story idea until the last minute, and I have done absolutely zero planning. I’ve always been a fly by the seat of my pants sort of writer anyway, so this whole making stuff up as I go along and having no plan is fun. Not sure how much substance my story has, but that’s not the point right now. The point is to write everyday, and that’s what I’m doing.

Only took 2 1/2 years after graduating to get my writing mojo back.

Now that I am writing everyday though, my other work is slowing down a little bit. After finally finishing Brock and Felix’s Flax sweaters last week, I had a small bout of startitis and cast on Wheaton which I think is too gorgeous for words. I am knitting the worsted weight scarf version, because while I think this pattern is stunning, I am also aware that I have a very short attention span for knitting anything that turns out to be a rectangle. But I think a blanket, or even a stole in this pattern would be the epitome of luxury.

I am also working on a pair of mittens for Brock. I am using Skinny Fit Mitts as a template because I like the cable pattern on them a lot, but the pattern was written for someone with tiny hands, so not only am I changing it up by making them flip-tops, I am also having to lengthen and widen the thumb gusset, lengthen the hand and figure my own decreases for top.

And since it is supposed to snow today, I really need to make Felix a pair of mittens. I am just going to use my chunk wool and knit him a pair of thumbless mittens. That should be quick, and I hope to do it this afternoon after I finish my word count.

What are you working on?

Some Woolly Things

It’s November 1st. We had our first freeze last night. The air is crisp, and we’ve started breaking out the woollens.

Socks Hanging to Dry in the Bathroom
Socks Hanging to Dry in the Bathroom

Just in time, I finished Brock’s sweater last night (don’t I know how to party on Halloween), and it’s upstairs taking a bath right now. I only have one sleeve left to knit on Felix’s sweater, and then I am taking a break from sweaters. Especially this sweater. I have been knitting Flax, almost exclusively, since August. I am going to knit socks and scarves and mittens and hats until the weather warms up again, I think.

…or maybe not.

Things around our house have changed quit a bit in the last couple of months. Felix has aged out of my work’s program that allows babies to tag along with mama’s (can you believe he is 6 months old already?), so my husband and I are working alternate schedules so we don’t have to send (or pay for) Felix to daycare. While I think this is the best move for our family, it is taking some getting used to. It doesn’t help that I have been throwing myself into my day job hardcore and coming home exhausted physically and mentally exhausted, and then with nighttime baby wake ups, I tend to stare at netflix or pinterest a lot these days rather than produce anything. There have been weeks lately when 3 or 4 nights out when I have been too tired to knit–and that is tired indeed.

I am not folding, by any means, but I stepping back from fiber production a little bit for awhile. It’s just all too much right now–as evidenced by the complete lack of posts around here.

The good news is, I’m not actually going anywhere, just giving myself permission to slow down. Right down my ideas, get to them when I have time, and just enjoy my knitting and spinning for pleasure instead of for production right now.

I’ll still blog about what I’m doing. For instance, at the show I was at in October, I demonstrated how to solar dye in mason jars.

wool rainbow
I have two sets of these little half ounce pieces that I’ve dyed. I’m planning to spin them up in rainbow order and chain ply them. The only thing left to decide if I want to do one skein or two skeins.

It’s also November, which means Nanowrimo! I started my novel this morning and met my word count. So far so good.

How’s your November looking?

FIber Arts Bazaar

I was on TV! We were advertising the fiber arts bazaar this weekend. I was the one behind the wheel.

The weather guy kept saying it was 27 outside, but I am pretty sure it was 27 inside. I am still wearing two pairs of socks. Though I do hope everyone enjoyed my red toenails.

I will be at the bazaar tonight and tomorrow at Potwin Presbyterian Church in Topeka.
Friday from 5-9
Saturday from 9-4

We will have demonstrations all day Saturday, including me doing my best at some armpit knitting action, which should be hilarious.

Also, I have put my etsy shop on vacation until I return from Shepherding camp on Nov. 14th. I won’t be taking my computer along with me, but keep an eye on my twitter feed. If my phone works out on the farm, I will be tweeting.

And for you Nanowrimo-ers out there, I am running right on schedule with just under 7000 words so far, and it seems like I am cooking up some scandal.

See you in Potwin!

Writing First Thing

I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

I have never won, but this year, I will.

This morning I got to wake up and fulfill a life long dream: spend the entire morning writing. Despite going to school a gazillion years to earn my degree in creative writing, my classes or my job always got in the way of my writing. I have always preferred writing in the mornings. Today was the first time I ever I got to sit down and write uninterrupted until I was done. I wrote nearly 3,000 words this morning, making up for the time I spent napping last night, which I totally don’t regret.


The light is really bad in my dinning room in the mornings, but it’s not a bad place to write while I get my caffeine fix for the day.

Currently, I am on schedule for day three, though I hope to pull ahead by at least another couple thousand words this evening when I have the apartment to myself again. It’s been a long time since I have allowed myself to write completely uninhibited, which is why I think nanowrimo is such a great exercise. Write now. Edit later. Like many writers I constantly wrestle with my internal editor and writerly insecurities. Right now, I don’t care that much how good the writing is, I am just making a story happen. Once there is a story down on paper, then I can work on the fundamentals of creating quality sentences.

One thing that has really taken a lot of the pressure off this year is that I had no idea what I was going to write until I started writing Tuesday morning. (Illicitly, I will admit, on my work computer.) Since then, every time I have seated myself at my laptop to write, I have had no shortage of words. To put it bluntly, it has been exhilarating. Stress and just general exhaustion have kept me from writing much of anything these days, including blog posts, which is a shame, because it really is one of my favorite things to do.

Good luck to all you writers out there! May you reach your word count every day!