Writing: Prepping for NaNoWriMo Part 2

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” -Sylvia Plath

As I’m writing this, NaNoWriMo is 4 days away. That’s enough time plan a novel, right?

Despite knowing full well that I peter out mid-NaNo without some sort of structure to guide my writing, I have yet to take any of my own advice. My ideas, scant as they are, still exist only in my head. All month long, I’ve been saying to myself, “Self, you need to set aside some time to work out what you want to write about next month.” Instead, I’ve gone shopping, went to the theater to see Paranormal Activity 3 and The Thing, dyed some people’s hair, finished reading The Shining, and started Game of Thrones.

I’m trying not to let the looming deadline freak me out too much. 4 days is 4 days is 4 days ““ I can sketch out an outline on my lunch breaks and in the evenings. I just need to make the time to do it, much like I need to make the time next month to move my ideas from my head to a novel.  I came to NaNoWriMo just for that purpose ““ to give myself the permission to move my ideas from my head to a novel without freaking out about how imperfect each of those words came out or how pedestrian my plot twists might end up being.  To be indulgent for one month and be selfish with my time and my creativity.

To just freaking write.

Tonight I hosted my local area kick-off party, so I know I’m hardly the only person in this unprepared condition. (I didn’t come with a plot, but I did productively spend my time baking three dozen cupcakes from scratch and crafting little NaNoWriMo flag cupcake toppers.) Of the dozen writers I met, only one had a fully fleshed out idea already at hand. Everyone else seemed to be sitting in my boat. But there’s still 4 days. 4 days for planning. It’s practically my new mantra.

Where are you in the process? Are you ready for NaNo this year?

Bonus Tracks: Actual, tangible novels that began life as a NaNoWriMo project.

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

25 replies on “Writing: Prepping for NaNoWriMo Part 2”

I started writing fanfic in June of this year and fell in love with it so I was easily talked into signing up for NaNaWiWhyCantIEverRememberTheRightName thing.  It starts TOMORROW and I still have five or six ideas either floating through my head or in almost-finished outline form and no idea which one I’m going to use.

But, I will endeavor to persevere.   I’m trusting that one of them will suddenly sprinkle itself with fairy dust glitter and grab my attention.



This is the first year I’ve signed up – mainly because I have a novel-writing course starting in January and I want to turn up with more than 5000 words written. Hence, the communal motivation/kick in the butt of NaNo. I have a few scenes outlined, and lots of questions, and after that I’ll see.

I also downloaded the beta version of Scrivener, and am loving it so far.

How useful have you found the NaNoWriMo site? Is it worth the support, or does it turn out to be more of a time-suck?

I really love Scrivner. Before that, I was using LiquidBinderX, but something about the Scrivner interface appeals to me more.

I don’t find the site overly distracting — mostly because I don’t use it like P-Mag or Facebook. I’ll maybe get a couple of pieces of mail over the month and I might jump in on some of my local threads, but that’s about it. I do like the main forum ‘adoption’ threads — ideas, characters, places or settings that other writers have come up with but can’t use. Sometimes I find a good piece of inspiration in them.

I signed up! I heard about NaNoWriMo when I was in undergrad and have always wanted to do it, but I had finals, and then the tail end of busy season at work, and then finals for law school. I finally don’t have anything holding me back, except for the whole “gotta get a job thing.” But other than that, I am ready! I have no characters, no plot, nothing, but I really need to get back into writing creatively and I am hoping NaNoWriMo will force me into writing SOMETHING every day.

Well, I, for one, encourage you to give it a shot. If you find that it’s too much for you, you can just stop. I think giving it a go is better than putting it off, because it’s so easy for us to find reasons we can’t do it instead of spare time to do it.

I mean, that’s just my perspective, of course. But I’m cheerleading you on!

That’s all that’s important, you can always go back and edit later. :)

I’m thinking I might participate informally this year–you’re not supposed to work on something that’s already been started but I’m thinking it might be a good kick in the pants to finish my book.

Not everyone is a plotter (as in, someone who plots the book and characters before they being chapter one).  I’m a pantser (as in, someone who flies by the seat of her sweatpants).  My books start are little more than a logline and a vague idea of characters.  I agree — just write!  Be nice to yourself and just write from the heart.  Editing is for December.

I don’t need a full plot summary, with detailed annotations about characters and twists, but I do much better with something. After spending 30 some years with my thoughts, I’m aware that they like to get themselves tangled up in an effort to keep me from completing something, anything, in case I might get embarrassed by it. Basically plotting is a way to keep my ego from sabotaging my efforts.

Honestly, that’s why I’ve been a big proponent of NaNo — I think it gives a lot of people an outside validation to be nice to yourself and just write.

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