(Last-Minute) Planning for Nanowrimo 2018

Let’s have some real Nanowrimo honesty first of all, shall we?

I didn’t start planning until the 24th October. I didn’t even know what I was writing until then. All I knew? Was that I wanted to write in first person. That was genuinely the only thing I was set on. I was waffling about genre, I had no idea what I wanted the plot or setting to be, I just knew I wanted it to be a novella that I ideally finished within Nanowrimo.

And though I started thinking about the need to plan on the 1st October, as Preptober came round and lots of things started popping up about it on my social media feeds…I didn’t.

Because prepping for Nanowrimo is intimidating.

Why? Well, I’m not very good at planning novels. I realise that I’m saying that as someone who has written multiple novels, but I’m not. So one of my goals for this Nanowrimo was to sort that out.

Ironically, the only thing I managed to do early on was create a page in my project bullet journal (I use a separate one for projects to day-to-day) where I could brainstorm what I wanted out of this Nanowrimo. And one of the only things I’d put on there before yesterday was wanting to plan better.

Fortunately, there’s a plethora of useful information out there about how to plan, prep and structure.

So here’s what I used to plan my Nanowrimo novel…when I had no ideas!

I already knew the kind of planning I wanted to use, which is Dan Harmon’s plot embryo. There is a fantastic explanation of this by Rachael Stephen. Even better, Rachael also makes a ton of other videos about planning novels, which you should definitely check out! She also happens to run Prep_tober, which aims to (shockingly!) help people prep in October for their November writing.

Thus when I had finally blocked out a day where I was Going To Fix The Planning Situation, the first thing I did was…watch YouTube videos for an hour. Sound silly? It was astonishingly helpful. It also eased me into the task I’d been putting off all month. I even took notes!:

By the end of it I understood (and loved) the plot embryo setup. I then just started brainstorming. Next I went back to that page I’d made about what I wanted out of Nanowrimo. I can’t show you it because spoilers, but I added a ton of things and – suddenly – I was much closer to knowing what I wanted to write.

So I just started asking myself more questions about the novella.

What genre was it? Who was the protagonist? What was their journey going to be like? These questions were made so much easier because I now knew I had a structure for their journey via the plot embryo.

I took a blank sheet of paper and just started scribbling ideas. Every time I had an idea, I asked myself a question about it, which meant I got a workflow going. There’s always another question to ask. I went from asking myself what genre the novella was to asking what the protagonist’s home was like to asking why they wanted to leave.

Soon, before you knew it, I had a plot. No, not a complete plot. I hadn’t actually completed the plot embryo for the protagonist, or antagonist, or for the side plots.

But I knew what the novella was going to be.

And wow, was I excited.

I then planned out the rest of my Nanowrimo prep time.

Handily, Rachael has another set of ideas for this, which I stole. I cut out the bit about buying food supplies, because I do that separately (and if I make my rewards food based I will just eat chocolate all month).

You’ll notice there are numbers next to those plot embryos – that’s because I paced out when I’m going to complete them. I was away this past weekend, so lost a bit of time in that sense. I also try not to work on things like this at the weekend, lest I do the self-employment thing where you work 24/7 and go slowly mad.

Personally, I find pacing projects out like this really helps me see them through. I’d much rather do 2-3 tasks a day on something than do nothing for several days and then cram 20 tasks into one. For me, slow and steady really does win the race.

Now, it’s just about getting all that done and starting in November!

I’m going to be blogging here throughout the month about my experience with Nanowrimo, and how I’m doing. One of the things I definitely want to talk to you about is the fact that I’m actually doing Nanowrimo in 22 days.

I mentioned not working at the weekend? Well I want to try and do that with Nanowrimo too. That means I have to write about 2.3k words every weekday in November. I think this is more than doable for me, though it might not be for everyone – but I’ll talk about that more later to show how you can really make Nanowrimo whatever you want.

My other goals are to go to an in-person meetup with my Nanowrimo region. Even just talking about this makes me feel anxious, but I’m determined to do it – I promised my Patrons I would, so that’s basically a contractual obligation, right?

So stick with me through November and keep an eye out here for this and more. To make sure you don’t miss a post, sign up for email notifications whenever I upload! Just click the menu in the top left corner.