9 Things I’m doing to prep for NaNoWriMo, Part 1


As you may have read on my post about Pantsing vs. Plotting, I am a fervent outliner. The literary journey of my epic-in-progress is just too big to navigate by the seat of my pants.

For that reason, I embark on my November NaNoWriMo experience with a well-developed outline of the novel already intact. My prep this year has mostly to do with revving up creative juices and clearing the decks before I set sail on the writing adventure that will, I hope, land me on the far shore of November 30 with the better part of a completed first draft.

A first draft, mind you, that will be as shitty as it needs to be. That’s what first drafts are for.

(For those who are still thinking through the story they’re going to write, and are looking for creative help, I’ve posted some handy links for that type of NaNoWriMo prep at the end of the post.)

Since nine is a sacred number in Norse mythology, and Norse mythology plays a role in my Grail Saga, it seems appropriate that I’ve accumulated a list of nine to-dos before November 1:

My nearly empty November NaNoWriMo calendar

November…a barebones NaNoWriMo calendar!

1. Finish important projects and pay forward my “Monthlies”

Itt was my goal to launch this site, my blog and Grail portal, by the end of October. Except for a couple of pages, I’m almost there. I didn’t want to be stressing over layouts and plugin configurations whilst absorbed with that demanding first draft. Both are creative endeavors, for sure, but draw on different lobes of the brain. It’s more than tiresome to switch back and forth, back and forth.

Similarly, I wanted to get some of my usual Monthlies done early, so I don’t even have to think about them:

—My November bills paid and my Quickbooks sufficiently caught up so I can blithely ignore it all for a month.

—The household in decent shape so we can keep it up with a minimum routine.

—A plan for everyone to pitch in with meal and chore assignments. Thank God, I am blessed with a husband who likes to putz!

—A review of my calendar and a commitment to say “No” to as many outside activities during the month of November as I possibly can. See how blank that lovely calendar is?

—A plan in place for making Thanksgiving dinner a shared responsibility, and as easygoing as may be.


A screenshot of my Scrivener novel file

2. Process all my notes, put final touches to my outline.

Even though the plot and characters are clear in my mind, I’ve been hard-core researching and outlining for the better part of a year and still have a pile of old notes to get through. it’s often those little notes written months in the past and now wholly forgotten, that give a writer just the right hook on which to hang a scene. I’m still discovering those in my old notes, and putting them in their proper files and folders in Evernote and Scrivener.

3. Brush up on Scrivener

Speaking of Scrivener, I have long since abandoned Microsoft Word. It’s nearly useless (at least to me) for outlining something as big as a book. It’s also monstrously clunky when trying to navigate numerous pages and multiple chapters. That’s why I’ve switched to Scrivener for outlining and drafting, as well as for consolidating the more important notes gleaned from Evernote, my base note-processing system.

To that end, I signed up for the excellent tutorials at LearnScrivenerFast and am working through them. Scrivener’s a big, powerful program, and the more I know how to use it, the more efficient the workflow during that precious writing time.

On to Part 2.

Categories: Writing.
About Debra Murphy

Debra is a novelist and blogger in Ashland, Oregon. Her major W.I.P: an epic series of futuristic Grail thrillers set i n the Pacific Northwest.

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