Camp NaNoWriMo: “An idyllic writers retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”


“An idyllic writers retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

That’s the motto of Camp NaNoWriMo.  And boy could we all use an idyllic writers retreat right now.  This is the craziest my life has been in a very long time (possibly ever).

The spread of COVID-19 wasn’t too bad in my area initially, but that didn’t mean it hadn’t upending a lot of the normal routines of my life.  And now, we’re under mandatory shelter in place for both the county I live in and the county I work in.

I normally take the bus to work every weekday and go to a write-in at a local café on Sundays.  While public transit is still running, my university system mandated that everyone work from home if possible in mid-March.  I’m lucky that my job can be done from home, and thankfully the university is offering administrative leave (for now at least) to anyone who can’t do their work from home. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2019: November In Review


It was a very crazy November this year, which I’ve already talked about a little, so in today’s reflection on NaNoWriMo 2019, I’m going to focus more on my story, and the experiment with plotting, and how I feel that went.

I went into November with an outline.  This has never happened before.  I’m that writer in the region who is famous for picking out their idea on Halloween, or starting over three times when the story isn’t working.  In light of that, I think I did pretty well with trying to follow my outline. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2019: An Experiment in Planning


So I’ve had my NaNo idea for about three weeks now.  Which is three to four weeks earlier than usual.  I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far and I’m starting to get to know my characters a little writing some pre-novel scenes that were important in their lives.  I used all the resources from the plot and character workshop our amazing former ML did for the region and I feel pretty confident about the plot idea (well except a bit of the nebulous middle, but who is really confident about that?) and I’m excited to get started.

And I’m a little terrified.  The last time I tried to draft a novel from scratch with an outline and a clearly defined ending, I ended up completely blocked and unable to write the story.  I’m trying so hard to have a growth mindset about the whole thing and believe that I can do this.  I rewrote the entirety of book two from a pretty strict outline and it turned out amazing (especially compared to draft zero!).  I’ve written to an outline successfully.  I can do this.  (If I keep repeating that, I have faith I will make it true.) Continue reading

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?


How do you plan and plot your stories? Are you the type who plots out everything in advance or the kind who flies by the seat of their pants with an idea and a dream and figures it all out as you go?

There always seems to be a divide between writers who plan (Plotters) and writers who don’t (Pantsers).

If you’re a Plotter, a writer who likes to plot everything out, there are tons of places to find advice for how to plot your novel. There are three act methods, snowflake methods, flow charts, sticky notes, and so much more. There are tons of books out there about how to plan out and write a novel. I’m sure many of them are even helpful.

But what if you are a Pantser, one of those writers who has a vague idea, some characters and a setting and just goes for it? I haven’t found a lot of advice out there for Pantsers. Probably because it’s so hard to give advice for a process that doesn’t have set rules or even set steps. What can you tell a Pantser really? They tend not to do outlines or plotting in advance, so what can they do to prepare for writing their story?

I can’t speak for every Pantser out there, but for me, there is prep work, it’s just not plotting. Continue reading