NaNoWriMo Checklist

Officially, the NaNo website tells me there is 2 days and 06 hours to go before NaNoWriMo 2012 kicks off. With NaNo breathing down my neck, I realise I’m not quite ready to go for the marathon. Here’s a checklist of everything I may possibly need, and a few things I probably don’t.

1. Ready to Go

Novel Prep

  1. Some kind of idea of what I’m going to write – genre, and the reader expectations.
  2. A plot outline of some type (including start hooks, inciting incidents, mid-points, an idea of the climax, and other tension points).
  3. Main characters – protaganist and antagonist at least, some thoughts about names, back story, motivation, archetypes. Profiles, images, questionnaires, charts – anything you consider a help.
  4. Setting – places, time, some world-building.
  5. Possible research if having this gap while writing will stop work.
  6. Pre-writing work such as brain-storming, character profiles, mind-mapping, index-carding, scene outlines, setting profiles. Up to you. .?

It’s not too late – grab a copy of one of those outlining books such as Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Plot or James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure, Marg McAlister has The Busy Writer’s One Hour Plot and The Busy Writer’s One Hour Character in a series – and they do give you something in that time. Roz Morris’ Nail You Novel and K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel all have been helpful to me in the past. Chuck some thoughts onto index cards, into a notebook, a word document, stickynotes on the wall, whatever.

If you don’t have time to pick up a book, take a look at Svenja Liv’s NaNoWriMo tracking worksheets linked to below. These not only include a simple wordcount tracker, but both plot and character worksheets to get you going.

Writing Environment Ready

  1. A place to write away from distractions – bat cave, closet, library, studio, spare bedroom, pacific island resort, local dingy cafe table in the corner next to the toilets, bed (just me?). Features helpful – shut out distractions (shut the door, turn off emails, Internet, phones etc).
  2. Writing equipment – computer, laptop, tablet, old-school notebooks, pens, index cards, sticky notes, cork boards, walls, file folders.
  3. Writing tools
    1. select your main writing software (that’s a retro name for “apps” for you youngsters out there). Try it out before November 1st. Features truly helpful – text editor (rich text), structure base ie some organisation capabilities into chapters or scenes, word count feature, auto-save, spell-check (using your language dictionary).
    2. Marathon or NaNo spreadsheet or tracking sheet ready – if you like this sort of thing (I do), get a spreadsheet ready to document daily writing stats over the month. Some links to free spreadsheet trackers are below.
    3. Supplementary tools and apps – tracking software, wordcount widgets, mindmapping, file folders or storage etc and compatible apps on other devices
    4. Supporting software and routines– if you write across multiple devices (as I do) get ready with your synchronisation or import/export systems (like Dropbox etc), USB devices, storage drives etc, and also plan for your backups of your writing projects and work.
    5. Scheduling and Anti-Procrastination tools – tools to enhance your best usage of the writing time you’ve got. (See below)
  4. Support consumables – coffee or tea making facilities, bowls of your treats of choice (or excess Halloween treats) such as M&M’s, chocolates, fruit, peanuts, etc.
  5. Non-judgmental writing companion ready – dogs, cats, hamsters, resident vermin, what have you…
  6. Friends and family fore-warned and prepared for your absences at a minimum or to provide full nutritional, emotional and domestic support and championship if you’re exceedingly lucky.

NaNo Participation & Diversions

  1. Registered on the NaNoWriMo website (with a halo ring around your profile picture if you’ve been good enough to donate)
  2. Book project added (description, working title, maybe even a cover image) under MyNaNo
  3. Regional forums joined, other forums of interest.
  4. NaNoWriMo offers the following diversions and/or support for your writing marathon –
    1. Regional forums – arrange word count wars with other regions, arrange real life meet-ups and write ins locally
    2. Meet ups and write ins
    3. Other forums – genre, pep-talks, contests and challenges, general chat
    4. Buddies – pair yourself with like-minded writers

Reporting, Motivation and Social Networking

  1. NaNoWriMo – read for tips, read forums and regional forums for announcements, write-in meet ups, word wars etc; update your novel with word count progress.
  2. Your own website / blog – if you’ve made your NaNo participation public, 1. put up the web-badge for NaNoWriMo 2012 on your blog (available from the NaNo website / goodies) and post about your progress. 2. Use a word count button or widget in your post or sidebar also. See below for several types. This year there is even a web-badge created for your Facebook cover image.
  3. Facebook – if you have a Facebook page, update progress there. NaNoWriMo has a Facebook page of course, and there’s a NaNo FB cover image to use, should you wish.
  4. Twitter – watch out for word war challenges and progress updates, tips and other challenges on hash tags such as #NaNoWriMo #NaNo #wrimo
  5. Join another group of writers doing NaNoWriMo, either virtually or real life. Most large online writer’s sites support WriMos with forums etc.
  6. Also, whilst out and about in libraries and cafes, play a game of Spot the Wrimo – many writers put out little placards with the NaNo logo on it, or have screen savers advising this.
Just in Cases

In case you fall behind, or lose wordcount, be prepared with a few techniques to apply. Hopefully they will never be needed –

  • Simon Haynes, the creator of the free and excellent writing software, yWriter5 has a 7500 words catchup form and technique at the bottom of this page.
  • Back in February this year I undertook a 10K a day wordcount enhancement program – here’s a post full of tips from otherson how to approach such a day and here’s where I did it.
  • Some Wrimo’s using previous experience have actually booked a few days off work for writing.
  • Use the word wars and challenges on the NaNo or twitter to compete with others on wordcount output.

2. Tool Links

Wordcount Widgets, Progress Meters & Tracking Spreadsheets

Sidebar Widgets (Generic)
  • You can get several versions from the NaNoWriMo site, which update as you update your progress to user name. Linked with your account, these word meters obviously only work during November.

Or pick up an external word count widget to input your target and wordcount manually. Copy the codes from these good ones –

WordPress Wordcount Widgets

If you happen to have a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are several plugin widgets to install into your sidebar widget areas (not for those at WordPress.com like this blog). Take a look at –

Other Wordcount Meters
  • The Mozilla Firefox browser has a wordcount meter plugin called the NanowriMo Meter by Mike Tsao.
  • Write Chain is a free iPhone App to keep track of wordcount progress.
NaNoWriMo Tracking Report Card Spreadsheets
  • Svenja Liv’s 2012 Year Wordcount Tracker spreadsheet (excel)
  • Svenja Liv’s 2012 NaNo spreadsheets (excel) with fantasy graphics – here and here
  • The NaNoWriMo 2012 report card forum thread with some links
  • Simon Haynes, the creator of the free and excellent writing software, yWriter5 has some very simple tracking forms for 2012 here.

Scheduling your Writing Time

  • Writetrack by David Gale, is a free online time tracking tool. It allows you to weight your writing days – eg. If you don’t write on weekends (like me) then I would weight weekend days a zero, and the 50k words would be spread out across my available days.
  • Write Chain – listed above, is a wordcount chain recorder for the iPhone.
  • Chrome has a browser extension called Stay Focusd which blocks off websites such as Twitter and Facebook after a certain time. There are similar apps you can download and install which shut off browsers or certain sites also.
  • Write or Die – the web app or desktop version provides negative encouragement to write and fast. Available as an iPad app also, nominate your time and wordcount goals and punishments if you stop typing.

3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Checklist

  1. I’ve decided I’m not quite ready to try NaNoWriMo this year but will be eagerly lapping up info from everyone who is so I can give it a go next year. Good luck 🙂

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