Preptober Planning And How I’m Aiming to Survive NaNoWriMo This November

It’s October! And if you’re a part of the writing community or know anyone who is, then you know that October is just code for PREPTOBER!

For those of you reading this that somehow don’t know about Preptober, allow me to explain briefly.

Preptober is the month where writers from all levels and walks of life, buckle down and start planning and prepping to write their novel. It’s a month of researching, outlining, beat sheets, workshops, webinars, stationary buying and heavy consumption of coffee (maybe even wine.)

During this month, writers everywhere, prepare as much as they can BEFORE the big event in November, National Novel Writing Month.

During NaNoWriMo, writers are challenged to write 50k words in just thirty days! The more preparation, the better prepared writing of the actual novel will be, and it’s no wonder why so many writers take advantage of Preptober!

I joined NaNoWriMo July 2019, taking part in 3 Camp NaNoWriMo's and 1 NaNoWriMo since. I have yet to hit any of my goals, as I always fall behind my expected word count. And that’s mostly because I didn’t take full advantage of preparing beforehand. Seldom life gets in the way and forces me to have to abandon my project entirely.

This year, I will take part in NaNoWriMo again, and I am taking full advantage of preparing beforehand. I have uttered "Preptober" from my mouth at least 205 times. And yes, I’ve counted.

My Preptober is packed with writing craft books, workshops and webinars, a handwritten outline and lots and lots of caffeine, preferably coffee. French vanilla coffee. With caramel macchiato creamer. So yummy.

Preptober Essentials

Here’s a more in-depth look at my Preptober preparations: (no particular order)

  • Story idea - usually new idea, although for July’s camp NaNoWriMo, I became a rebel writer by participating with an already drafted story

  • Zero draft - for discovery of my novel idea. Nothing in this draft is set in stone. (hence the zero part) I base this draft on brainstorming and questions that sometimes go unanswered, but it’s the starting point of my first draft, guiding me on a journey of learning what my story will ultimately look like in the future

  • Character Sketch/Development - I use K. M. Weiland’s 'Creating Character Arcs' for reference

  • Outline - I prefer to stick to Jessica Brody’s 'Save The Cat Writes A Novel!' for all my 15 beats and plotting

  • Writing Mastery Academy (online) - Jessica Brody’s very own writing academy filled with workshops, webinars and community!

  • Writing software - Scrivener (one of my best friends) for drafting and google docs for back up

  • Stationary and writing supplies - a bullet journal, folders, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, book tabs and other colorful things that I definitely don’t need and doesn't really help me write

  • Novel Music/Playlist - a collection of songs I enjoy listening to while prepping and/or writing

  • Tentative project/WIP name - I just need something to refer to my draft by, instead of “my story”

  • Writing routine - candles, coffee, writing schedule, light exercise, comfy sweater or hoodie

  • Planner - a place to jot down my daily writing tasks; sometimes I may use a planner to track my word count, however this year, I’ve chosen to track my word count in my bullet journal (it’s so pretty!)

  • Designated writing spot - although this changes with my mood, I often enjoy sitting at my desk or dining room table. Since the pandemic, I’ve been enjoying writing on my balcony

  • Writing community/Social Media - These folks are my people and totally get me! They're just as passionate as I am about writing, and they hold me accountable

  • Writing Journal - a place for brain dumping and thoughts on my progress and whatever else I want to write (I use a spiral bound A5 notebook)

If you see anything in the list above that you want to try out, feel free to! This list is after two years of participation in NaNoWriMo and continues to change.

Mindset For NaNoWriMo

My attitude towards NaNoWriMo this year is optimistic. I would love to write 50k words in 1 month, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of writing my novel.

I’m definitely using the time to jumpstart my novel writing and have as much support as I can get for it, and honestly, I think that’s why I keep coming back to Nano, every year, even though I never meet my goal, I enjoy the sense of community and positivity that comes with participating!

My mistake previous Nano’s was taking the challenge way too seriously and feeling some kind of way when I lost. I questioned my skills as a writer, even my worth, but as I continue to take part in these writing challenges, it helps me to build “tough writer skin”.

Now I can make light of never winning, as I’ve learned so much about myself as a writer. I’m learning what my process is and how to schedule writing time in my hectic life that’s realistic for me.

If you’re taking part in National Novel Writing Month this November, I leave you with these words of advice I wish someone would’ve shared with me when I first started out, and that’s...HAVE FUN! That’s all you’ll need to get through Nano, seriously. Have as much fun with writing your project as possible. That includes any project you work on in the future.

People say, 'What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?' I say, they don't really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they're gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it. - R.L. Stine, American novelist best known for the Goosebumps series

Do not stress out about not having your outline done in time, don’t fret about word counts or deadlines. Enjoy the goal of 50k you’ve set for yourself.

Learn what’s challenging for you and what comes to you easily. Understand your writing process and routine, and if it needs to be updated.

If you focus on these things, along with trying to improve your craft, you won’t have time to blow steam about not winning, because you’ll understand that winning is not the real prize for NaNoWriMo. The true prize is the satisfaction you receive for working so hard to achieve your goal, and growing so much more as a writer because of it!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to read this blog post!

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Until next time...

Stay creative! : )

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