NaNo isn’t just for November anymore

My writing group ( is all for writing challenges, such as National Novel Writing Month (, fondly referred to as NaNo.  We’re not particularly crazy about the timing – during the busy month of November.  Last year, we moved it to the winter.  It was such a success, we’re duplicating it.  Between meetings, February 12th to March 12th, we’re challenging each other to write 32K.  A gift certificate is on the line for one of the finishers.  This year, as a fundraiser for our “I Always Wanted to Write a Book” Conference in October, we’re asking for a small entry fee, with a prorated monetary “contribution” for every 1K not written.

I’m very excited about the story I’ll start next month.  I know the purpose of NaNo is flat out, no-holds-barred writing, giving the subconscious a chance to go off on tangents and bring brilliance to the story, but I like to have some structure.  So, I’ve loosely outlined “Ghost Lover” in a way that won’t squelch the creative process.  It’s not quite “pantsing” but it’s a far cry from my usual spreadsheet micro-controlling way of plotting.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Determine names.  Clare and her sisters Julie and Anna.  The hero is still nameless, but it begins with an “A”due to this complex, illogical naming system I have.
  • Pick the hero and heroine’s occupations that fit the plot.  Clare is a caregiver.  “A” was more difficult, but I asked the muses/destiny/collective consciousness and they came through with a court appointed legal guardian.
  • Do ghost research.  By studying different cultures and case studies, I now have the foundation for my worldbuilding.
  • List the things that “have” to happen.   Clare has to do this, this and this.  “A” has to do this and that.  By writing down the important events in their story, I can put them in rough chronological order, which will give  me logical structure as I’m blowing through 32K in four weeks.
  • Get back in the habit of writing every day.  Whether on the laptop or with a legal pad and pen, I’m starting to dedicate a specific time every day to the writing process.
  • Get a manicure.  Sure, it sounds trite, but I’m going to be spending more time on the keyboard, so a nice manicure (in Senorita Rosalita by Opi) is a self indulgence I’m willing to pay for.

What about you?  Are you starting a new book soon?  What do you do to prepare for it?

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