Friday, October 30, 2015

How I Got Ready For My First NaNoWriMo (Hobbit-Style)

Two more days until NaNo starts. One and a half, actually. But for those of us who aren't starting on Sunday, kick-off is bright and early Monday morning. It feels surreal. This is my first year ever getting to do it, and I'm so excited.

There are tons of articles about getting ready for NaNo, so I'm not going to share anything really new here. But I thought it would be fun to share what I've done to get ready, especially for interested friends watching the process.

For all you non-writers, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which novelists around the world accept the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. That averages out to 1,666 words a day.

So here are some things I thought would be handy to have around:

1. Plot Notes
For all of August and September, and maybe even part of July, I wrote out plot notes using K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel workbook and Structuring Your Novel workbook. It's too close to NaNo to go through those workbooks extensively, but they'll give you some great questions for your story, and you could go through a few of those. Or for a shorter list, you can go to this article here. I made a detailed outline, and then I also made a condensed outline for a quick way to see my story at a glance. All those outlines have been placed in my Scrivener research folder.

Just be sure not to tell your characters what's happening, or they might not come along.

2. Music

Tuesday evening, I quickly divided up my favorite albums and songs into category lists for NaNoWriMo. (Well, it was kind of quick in between watching Studio C on YouTube.) When I'm discouraged, I shall play the Courage list. When I'm happy, I shall play the Fun list. When I need an extra layer of pathos and angst in my writing, I shall play the Feels list, and so on. Categories are Fun, Feels, Courage, Celtic, Worship, and Instrumental.

That way I won't be able to procrastinate by digging through all my music lists for just the right song.

3. Story Inspiration

I collected a poem and a song that mean a lot to me, and a novel scrapbook from friends that is a very precious thing. I also have a bunch of pins, quotes, photos, and articles on a secret Pinterest board to remind me of the gut-wrenching love I have for this story, as well as the fact that bad first drafts are OK.

I will be collecting some sermon notes and verses that particularly apply to my writing, as soon as I get a chance.

I'm hoping when I'm in the deep forest of Plot Woes and Writer's Block,
 I can climb up to my inspiration board and see the butterflies. ^_^

4. Treats
I love treats. They're my new happy things. So I made myself an editing box, and here are the treats I chose to put in:

I asked my sister to buy him for me if I gave her the money. She told me I must be brave and buy him myself. I love him the more for it. 
A writing buddy. He shall be my mascot. 

The yellow sticky notes are smaller rewards for daily goals. The pink sticky notes are bigger rewards for chapter or week goals. The notebook represents procrastination writing in different short stories that are not NaNo related. If I have time, I'll reward myself with a bit of non-NaNo writing along the way. 

I also keep these in my editing treat box, because they're my favorite music CDs ever. 

Character faces blurred on purpose, folkies. Sorry! 
These are my edible treats. Adagio tea, with flavors blended specifically for three of my novel characters: The Doctor, The Rogue, and Power King (thanks to Emily and her sisters). A mug with a beautiful purple cozy, and a Ghirardelli candy bar. 

It is the first candy bar I've ever bought for myself. This is a milestone event. 

5. Prayer
I really felt passionate about starting NaNoWriMo with some dedicated time to pray beforehand. Prayer is the cornerstone of the work, and taking time before the craziness of the month starts to lay it squarely in the hands of God, from whom all strength and inspiration come, is even more vital than all the plot notes and treats in the world. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Psalm 127:1)

I wanted to do half an hour, but I knew it would be hard to grab time just to sit down uninterrupted to do it. Yesterday morning I had some cleaning to do for Bright Lights in the evening, so I decided to do it while I cleaned. I broke it up into five minute segments, and prayed for a different thing each of the five minutes:

1. All the contestants.
2. Characters
3. Being a good witness/encouragement in the NaNo community.
4. Plot
5. Perseverance and discipline
6. That God would use the work of the writers beyond NaNo.

It goes pretty fast that way! But guess what: I don't want to stop there. I want to keep praying all month. With that in mind, I'll be tweeting a prayer prompt five days a week in November with #prayforNaNoWriMo. It's open to anyone who'd like to join, whether you're in NaNoWriMo or not, or even if you want to pray for a family member or friend who's doing it. Add your own prayer requests and praises with #prayforNaNoWriMo and let us pray for you! I'd love it if you'd join me!

6. Daily word goal
The last thing I did was figure out a couple of daily word goal scenarios in case I'd need some time off. I know for sure I'm not writing Sundays, so that takes four days out. I also considered either taking Saturdays off, or taking a week off in the middle for a trip. How that's all going to pan out I don't know, but I do have a basic idea what to get done if I want to be in good shape by the end.

If you're considering prep work for NaNo, you have a good chunk of today and all day tomorrow to do some prep work! Playlists take maybe 1/2 hour or less. Treats might take a quick run to the store, and prayer time can be your own personal choice. Plot notes and story inspiration might take a few hours, depending on how much you want to jot down--but even just collecting a few pictures and quotes and writing down a plot twist or two will get you far.

And hey, while you're at it, I'd love it if you wanted to buddy me on the website for some word wars and fellow support! I'm Irish Maiden. I can't wait to see you there!

Here we goooooooooo!

(P.S. Come back Sunday for the second round of the 2015 Blogger Awards! Also, a surprise is coming to the blog very soon, and you won't want to miss it. Stay tuned!)


  1. This looks like a lot of fun along with the work; you've committed it to the Lord and organized and thought out what you can, and now we will get to see what He does! :)

    The Gifs are great! They are a fun addition to this post!

    (Do you contract out your services? Maybe after NaNoWriMo? I could use a sewing month...)

    1. Yes. I'm so excited, and can't wait to see what happens. I was reading through my writing tonight, and after a week of not looking at it, it really is encouraging that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Sometimes you just need a change of work for rest, I suppose....

      You should totally do NaNoSewMo. :D I would be happy to figure out something in December to help you out. :) You know, I'm finding if I plan something a couple of months in advance, I can get it done. So maybe you could plan a sewing month that way!

  2. Schuyler + gifs = what is the world coming to. .-. But they added a nice visual to this post. *nods* You should do it more often.
    Anywayz, I love your NaNo preparations! So organized and delicious. Makes me wish I could have a November in which I could focus solely on NaNo and make it a good experience for myself. I am going to join some other friends in what they call a mini-NaNo; writing 500 words per day. I don't know how that's going to work out for me with BB and everything, but hopefully it will.
    I wish you all the best, will be praying for you, and I certainly look forward to seeing you this coming month! =D

    1. Galadriel voice: The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air....

      I love your mini NaNo, and I can't wait to see you this month! Thank-you for your prayers, and I'll be praying for you! <3

  3. Wow, this is great! I really wish I could do NaNoWriMo, but no way with BB :( But I love all your preparations! You really have some great ideas. Once I get some time to actually write, I may adopt some of them :). Do you mind if I follow you on Spotify? (And by the way, the CD on the top left in your picture just happens to be my favorite ever.)

    1. I wish you could, too. :( But stay tuned to the blog, we might have something else you can join in on after BB is over. :) Of course, I would love it if you followed me on Spotify! :D

      A friend gave me that CD, and it is so beautiful. <3 I'm glad you like it too.

  4. So glad you get to do this! I see lots of things in your pictures that I like. ;) :D Hope it'll be a special month for you. <3

    1. The photos would not be the same without the birthday treats you sent me. <3 I'm looking forward to it, and to sharing the results with you as I go along. :)

  5. I love the Hobbit theme of this post. =) Unfortunately, I'm not able to do NaNo this year—I have several other things going on, and I didn't feel like it would be wise to commit to something else. However, I participated last year, so I can say from experience that your preparations are great and will really pay off. I'll pray that you have a productive and enjoyable month. It's an experience like no other. I love the things you prayed for, too—I'll have to remember those.

    Also, I have to admit that I squealed a bit when I saw the AP and Celtic Thunder CDs. They are some of my absolute favorite singers/bands. "The Burning Edge of Dawn" is amazing, isn't it?

    1. Wisdom is in knowing what you can handle! Thank-you so much for your prayers. I will need them for sure, and it is such a gift to know that online friends are praying. :)

      They are my favorite musicians, too. And I must have listened to The Burning Edge of Dawn at least 6 or 7 times by now. :D

  6. Love your post and The Hobbit clips. I've completed NaNoWriMo five times (out of six tries) and end up with terrifically messy drafts. That's why it's so fun! :)

    You'll do great!

    1. It was so fun to put those gifs together. I'm glad you enjoyed them!

      It might take a little getting used to, letting the draft be messy, but I'm going to do my best. Thank-you for that vote of confidence!

  7. I love the post. My favorite part is the intentional prayer. It's easy to forget the true source and goal of storytelling while stuck in the deep, dark woods of word-choosing, and easy to get caught muscling through in one's own strength instead of depending on the Lord. I intend to take your good example to heart.
    I can't really put life on hold to write this November, so I'm going to be getting up a few hours early every day. I think it will be good for me. :)
    So excited to write alongside you!


    1. Yeah. Intentional prayer is something I think about often, but don't always follow through on as I should. But it's so important that Jesus comes first. Less fear, guilt, regret--and that's the best way to write.

      Good job for getting up early. I admire your diligence, and look forward to partnering together with some word wars!


  8. First of all, Schuyler, I approve of all those glorious Hobbit gifs *nodshead* (Can't choose a favourite, they were all so funny and delightful - like Bilbo fretting about incineration, or fainting at last, and the one with Thorin and Bilbo smiling at the top #heartmelts) They made this post just that wee bit more epic and fantastic than it already is #isfangirling #extendededitionanticipation ;).
    And darling, all the best with your NaNoWriMo writing this month! I'm so excited you're doing it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Will you be working on the companion novel/sequel to WoL? I definitely hope so!

    Also your tips are fantastic, and I'll definitely want to use them for next time I do NaNo. Yes, it is an adventure, and no, you won't be the same after doing it, but it is so worth it! :D Praying is such a powerful tool, and how truly the Lord gives us the strength through the every day struggles of our lives . . . in that little plot problem, in the tiny and big choices, and I will keep you in my prayers for your writing, Schuyler! (Please pray for my studies too!)

    Much love, dear friend! I'd love to know how your NaNo experience goes, and if ever you need a prayer-request during the month, shoot me an email, I will definitely love to read it (I may reply after November, but I will definitely pray for you!)

    P.S. I tagged you in my last post for #desertislandreads :D

    1. Thank-you thank-you! It was so fun to use gifs. I loved putting this post together, and I want to do some gifs again sometime. :D

      Yep, I'm working on the sequel! So far it's almost 40,000 words strong thanks to October writing and thus far in NaNo.

      Keep up the great work with your studies, Joy! I think it's so cool to use NaNo that way, and just think, you are almost to the finish line. You can do it!! May the Lord bless your time and multiply it.

      Thank-you so much for the tag! I really enjoyed your post, btw. It's always fun to see what people would take with them, and you had some excellent choices.



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