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  • Shea Simmons

My Preptober Plan & Nanowrimo Goals

If you're a writer, have a passing interest in writing, or have a friend who's a writer, you know what's coming: Nanowrimo. If none of those things apply to you, though, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's when writers decide to write an entire novel (or most of one — 50,000 words) in a month, the month of November. Yes, it's as difficult as it sounds, but we all keep doing it for the thrill.


While Nanowrimo is the main show, there's also the month before known as Preptober. I'm doing both — kind of. My Preptober plan and Nanowrimo goals intersect quite a bit, but they're a little different than what most people do for this writing occasion. If you're curious about how people are using their time, I'll give you a sneak peek into what I'm doing for both Preptober and Nanowrimo.


Preptober


1. Filling the Creative Well


While you may not consider listening to music and creating a playlist a way to prep, I do. In fact, last night, I spent about two hours compiling a playlist for my work in progress (that I'll link here if you want to check it). Other things I'm doing? Creating a Pinterest board. Making an aesthetic. Watching my favorite book to movie YA adaptations. It's all part of filling the parts of you that can get drained when you're pouring creativity out of your ears like water. Okay, so hopefully water isn't coming out of your ears, but you get what I'm saying.


This Preptober, take time to remind yourself why you love your WIP, why you love YA or middle grade, or whatever you're writing. Do it by filling yourself with all the things you love and all the things that will inspire you beginning in November.


2. Outlining (Kind of)


Surprise! I'm a plotser. If you're unsure what that means, it's just a combination of a pantser and a plotter. I'm just not going to sit down and layout my novel scene by scene (but that's amazing if it works for you). For me, there's something clinic about outlining that I don't feel is conducive to me being my most creative self. Yes, I am well aware that I should like the hippie dippiest hippie writer to ever write, but it's true. There's no better way to stifle my creativity than to force me to look at it through an analytical lens.


This, however, doesn't mean I'm not plotting my novel or at least kind of plotting it. Let's be honest, if you pants a novel from start to finish, there's likely to be a point where things go off the rails. A vampire may start sparkling like diamonds (oops, that's actually a thing). What I do to avoid continuity errors is a loose outline. What are my biggest moments? The turning point, the point of no return (insert Phantom of the Opera reference here), the climax, and the resolution. I know all of these. What I don't know is how my characters will end up there. How will they interact with one another in the in-between moments, the moments where you get to know who they are outside of a disastrous thing happening. That's what keeps things fun for me.


If you've ever heard of Susan Dennard's cookie method (and if not, you should go check out her plethora of writing resources), it's basically like a loose version of that. I know what's coming. I want to get to it. I must move forward to get to my next cookie, and I always know what cookie is next.


3. Writing

Write? But Shea, November is for writing. No, it's not. Any time is for writing, and it's what I've learned this Preptober. I'm ready to write. I feel my fingertips itching. My mind drifts to the world I'm creating, to the people in it, to what's happening to them. Sometimes, I imagine that when I'm not writing them, they're just standing there, stagnant, in their own little universe, and I've got to move them forward (I promise I don't some weird God complex).


Do you feel hyped to write when you listen to that playlist you created? Did a great idea just come to you and you wrote it down, but you just want to wite that bit of dialogue? Do it. Seriously. Do it. November may be Nanowrimo, and you may need 50,000 more words down the line, but start now. You're a writer. Write whenever you damn well please.


Nanowrimo Goals


1. Finish A Book, Duh.

While 50,000 won't get a book done unless you're writing middle grade or contemporary YA, it'll get you at least halfway there. For me, though, I've been sitting on half-finished books for years, and I am DONE with that shit. It's time to finish a book, and that's what I'm going to do during Nano. Because confession: I've never finished writing a book. This year, that's changing.


2. Find Critique Partners

I am lucky in that not only is my partner a writer, but he's also a high school English teacher. Basically, I have a built-in critique partner, and we're certainly not afraid to be honest with one another. However, the more eyes that are on something the better, right? People tend to have more than one critique partner, and it's how you form relationships with other writers. This year, during Nano, I want to take advantage of the forums more, and hopefully, find my persons.


3. Start Revising

No book is perfect straight out of the gate. Well, except for maybe Holly Black's books, but I'm not Holly Black, and I'll need to revise, revise, revise. This means that during Nano, I want to finish writing my book earlier than Nov. 30. Instead, I'm shooting for Nov. 11. No, I'm not going to try to write a book in 11 days. I don't have a creative death wish. Like I mentioned earlier, I've already begun writing, and I've got a schedule planned out on PaceMaker (which you should be using if you aren't already). This year, I'll be splitting my time between writing and revision. Let's hope it works.


Do you plan to do Nanowrimo? Are you already participating in Preptober? Come talk to me about it over on Instagram or leave a comment with your own plans below.


If you want to hang out during Nano, you can find me here.

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