Preparing for NaNo

I woke up this morning. Had coffee. Walked around. Yep, still a published-author-to-be. I have this surreal sort of hangover, and it’s wonderful. However, now I’m editing like a madwoman and that poses a problem – less time to plan for NaNo. Try combining a. editing at a furious pace in order to submit by October 18th. b. Trying to finish your senior-year subjects for school so you can take November off and b. trying to create an entire novel during October so you can write it in November.

It’s a glorious whirlwind. NaNo has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it – you look forward to it all year, and then just as you start to forget about it – BOOM.

“Is it November already?”

“Yes, Holmes.”

So while I’m juggling all of these (not to mention art commissions, and planning what to get everyone for Christmas on a limited budget, and…) I’m trying to figure out exactly what’s going to happen in Unforget. It’s not enough to have a scene here and a scene there – unlike what Chris Baty says, no plot IS a problem. (Or maybe I’m just challenged.)

You all know my notebook strategy – buying one notebook (thick; mine has three sections and two pocket folders, and a pretty blue cover) and using that as my ‘NaNo’ notebook. I fill it with pictures, quotes, scenes, snippets, and any random inspiration that falls into my lap. It’s very useful, and I’ve used up a good deal of mine already.

Here are some other steps I take.

1. Plot out as much as possible. Major twists, turning points – the skeleton of the story. You can flesh it out to your satisfaction, but having at least some idea of the overall structure is important.

2. Know what your characters look like, what their personalities are, that sort of thing. You don’t want to dive headfirst into NaNo and realize you barely have a passing acquaintance with them.

3. Create a playlist for your novel. Personally, I write much better with music. I have an iTunes playlist for every one of my novels – Monster, Acceso, Unforget – and it proves mood-making and inspiring. My Monster playlist was fairly short;  thirty-three songs total. My Unforget playlist is longer with 100 songs (and I have more to add!). Put it on endless loop and there you go.

4. Find models for your characters. It’s a trick I’ve used for years now. Because I’m me and I have problems – I mean, quirks – mine are usually Asian since I’ll find someone who inspires a character and then nobody else will do. I still don’t have a model for Moon – she’s tricky. Caucasian, with white hair – it ain’t easy to find someone like that, but Mom helped me look for pictures the other day and I’m deciding.

5. Pray about it. It’s important to pray about a novel before you begin it, to start you on the right track – and keep praying, so you don’t get off! Writing a novel is hard, and you don’t want all that effort to go to something with no value.

6. Don’t be afraid to do something creative and different. A lot of people are afraid to write what they really feel like they should. There are serious issues that often aren’t addressed because people don’t want to offend others, or they think they may be judged, or they think the issue is too touchy to – well, touch. I’ve decided I’m going to be the sort of writer who writes about serious issues and themes without bothering if it’s going to step on other people’s toes. (Now, I’m not advocating ‘In-your-FACE’ writing. I AM, however, stating that if God puts something on our hearts to write, then we should regardless).

7. Read a lot of how-to articles and books but follow no one completely. It can be very helpful to absorb as much advice and as many ideas as possible, but don’t let what you read rob you of your originality. Even published authors can be wrong.

8. BE EXCITED! Gather NaNo buddies, people who you can exchange your daily quota with, spazz about characters and plots with, and bounce ideas off of.

There you have a short list (though reading it, it probably didn’t seem so short) of things I do to prep for NaNo. It’s by no means complete, and there will be more.

Oh yes.

There will be more.

INSERT FUNNY STORY: So my older brother has, for the longest time, called the Korean artists I listen to ‘Japanese.” Every time, a brief scuffle during which I was like “KOREAN! THEY’RE KOREAN THEY AREN’T JAPANESE!” and he protested “THEY SOUND THE SAME!” would ensue. Today he came downstairs while I was writing and listening to Gackt. He pauses, listens, and says, “Oh, Taylor (fiancée) was wondering if you still listen to Korean music.” I said, “This is Japanese.” You really had to be here.


26 thoughts on “Preparing for NaNo

  1. I was very encouraged to see number six! My NaNo book deals with larger themes that feel more controversial and things I haven’t seen addressed in books (ie: The Providence of God, the use of magic in fiction, ect) Thank you for the dose of encourgement to write without fear. 🙂


  2. I’m always soooo excited about NaNo. Going for my 8th win! 😀 Unfortunately, this semester I’ve got a heavy load of college courses and two jobs… so the writing may have to be delegated to a less important place in the hierarchy. I did virtually all my planning over the summer, because I knew I wouldn’t have time now, but that means my story isn’t fresh in my mind.

    I have a handful of secret writing weapons:
    1. index card outline and Snowflake document
    2. Scrivener
    3. My fingerless gloves

  3. Good thoughts! My favorite part is, “Even a published author can be wrong.” That really resonated with me because I never thought of it that way, at all. And since I’m such a rule-follower, I try to follow everything I’ve read about the craft of writing and publishing. So much so that I’ve forgotten that only I can write the story. Everyone else is merely a bystander. It was a good reminder that even published authors can be wrong and that I don’t have to follow every piece of advice written, ever. Thanks so much.

  4. I can’t wait for NaNo!!! I’m SO excited!!! And now I have some great ideas to try with/for planning!! And some that I’ve already been doing!! And the story at the end; I laughed so hard!! I can very much relate!!!

  5. 1) On Christmas gifts on a limited budget: check out and for deals. A few hours ago, the latter had massive savings on jewelry such as $500 for a ring retailing for $3500 and $1200 for one retailing for $7800. I have neither the money to spend on most of those not a significant other to give it/them to (and buying the ring before I have a girl to give it to might be bad if I lose it or something). There are cheaper items on that site as well, such as a white sapphire ring for $13 (including shipping; normally $75ish) I plan on giving to my little sister as a Christmas present if it gets here, and I might get some other stuff from there as gifts as well. Sorry for rambling; I hope I’m being remotely helpful. :~\

    2) Yes, Korean and Japanese music are definitely different; I like at least one Japanese song I’ve heard (from Rurouni Kenshin) but have yet to hear any KPop songs I like – and I definitely DO NOT LIKE THE STUPID GANG NAM STYLE! [/rant]

    • Max, you’re AWESOME. Have I mentioned you’re awesome lately? Because you’re awesome.
      2. I’ve been exploring Japanese music and actually like quite a bit of it! It’s got a slightly rockier, darker feel and sound but it’s very neat in its own right. OPPA GANGNAM STYLE! *stops and blinks at you* It got stuck in my head. I knew about it before it was cool. XD

      • Really? Aw, thanks; that’s nice of you to say. 🙂

        My brothers think the Oppa Gangnam style music video is great, but I think it’s the stupidest/creepiest/most bizarre thing I’ve seen I’m quite a while (certainly for music videos). XP
        I haven’t actually listened to much Japanese music (other than what my dad’s shown me) though.

        • I think it’s hilarious that Gangnam Style is the thing that took off across Western countries – you’d think it would have been something less totally-bizarre-crazy-Korean. It cracks me up. XD
          Well, I don’t know if you’d like Japanese music either….you’re hard to get a handle on, music-wise. Hmm. <_<

            • Case in point: Gang Nam Style is ultra-popular but most people have no idea what the lyrics are about (and neither do I; I heard that something like “Hey, sexy lady” and “Gang Nam style” might be the only words in English in it), and other songs are big hits as well because they’re catchy, but the lyrics are really stupid. For instance, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe is a catchy song, but the lyrics are ridiculous: who would give out their phone number/try to start a relationship with someone and call them “baby” right after meeting them for the first time? (probably not a girl I’d want as my significant other) Wouldn’t you want to get to know someone a bit better first?! 😱😲😝😖 :O

            • HAHAHAHA I make fun of “Call Me Maybe” all the time. I have proudly not listened to it all. Ever. XD It’s ridiculously catchy, yes, but…just…shallow. Shallowshallowshallow. And I, for one, know what Gangnam Style is about. Ahem. *looks around*

            • Yeah, I mean on purpose. I end up hearing parts of it, and it has nothing to do with me. XD Well, Gangnam Style is a satirical look at the wealthy district of Seoul, where things they consider ‘cool’ are really stupid (hence Psy rapping in a playground, on a toilet, etc.) It’s really not the nicest song ever, but it’s clever. =D

            • You’re welcome. *bows* =D See? It’s not so bad now!!! XD Though I doubt a fifth of the people who watch/hear it know what it means other than “eeeehh, sexy lay-day.” XD

  6. Miriam: I know you are a compassionate person who defends every person’s right to free speech. Please pray for Malala Yousufzai as she clings to life. This 14-year old’s crime? Supporting education for Pakistan girls in her village. The right we take for granted in this country. You have a great talent. Please use it to defend the rights of women throughout the world.

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