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LCP Round Table: Preptober and NaNoWriMo First-Timer Tips

Loud Coffee Press reached out to past #NaNoWriMo winners for tips and tricks on how to rock this upcoming November. In this installment, our round table group discusses “#Preptober” plans and tips for first-timers!

LCP: How did you prepare for NaNoWriMo? Or, did you go into November without a plan? Would you change your approach?

CL Walters: A week or two prior to NaNo, I sat down and wrote down everything that was in my head with respect to the story I wanted to explore. I identified the major and minor characters. If I had a sense of other elements of literature (setting, conflict, theme, etc.), I explored those a bit more. I also drafted the motivation for each character (for example: If (character) can just get (fill in the blank) then he/she will finally (fill in the blank). Then, in my calendar, I set each day with a scene goal or a specific character to develop.

Natasja Eby: I go into each month armed with my cast of characters and a vague idea of where I want to be with them by the end. If I have specific scenes in my head, I make note of them before writing them out.

Marian Rakestraw: I am, in the words of Grant Faulkner, a percolator. I spend a lot of time in October thinking about what sort of book I’m going to write and looking at how books like that are structured. I make Pinterest boards for my characters and settings. I make lists of things that might happen. I’ve never been very good at making firm outlines. I like the process of discovery.

Michelle Wright: I made rough outlines. I researched beforehand. I reminded myself not to constantly re-read.

Sierra Dougherty: I went into my winning year of NaNoWriMo without a plan. It wasn’t until two or three nights before when my husband asked, “Aren’t you going to do NaNoWriMo?” that I sucked it up and buckled down. I would definitely plan for NaNoWriMo next time I do it.

Jaylyn McCoy: I used to be a pantser, i.e. no plot and no plan. But, every year I've planned a little more. This year I'm approaching with an overall vision of the novel, the main character sketch, and a brief outline. I keep the outline as general as possible, hitting only the major plot points so the characters still have room to make up their own minds. This allows me to have structure but room for surprises. I focus on an idea in September and spend October deciding the main points. I don't write a single piece of the story until November starts, just to keep the excitement and tension at a high.

Neisa Rae: The perfectionist in me tends to grind down the details. So, I think if you go in with a solid outline you will thank yourself later! It will be one less thing to worry about, when you are busy worrying whether your characters eyes should be blue or maybe dark green.

LCP: What’s the most important tip you’d offer to someone who has never attempted NaNoWriMo before?

Michelle Wright: Believe in yourself! Don’t feel bad if you don’t make the goal. The idea is that you are inspired to give it a try. And don’t give up on your WIP, either. It could be a hit, but you won’t know if you don’t give it a chance.

Jaylyn McCoy: The most important thing was telling my friends and family about this adventure in a month. It's scary to reveal this intimate work. They cheered me on, encouraging me to post my word count progress so they could see how I was doing. They wanted to be a part of it. It was so inspiring and liberating to open that part of my life to the people I cared most about instead of trying to hide this devious and daring project.

CL Walters: I would suggest that writers who struggle with perfectionism, self-doubt and discrimination should walk into NaNo with the mindset that NaNo isn’t about perfection. It’s about moving forward with a draft (perfection happens later). Forward progress - 200 to 2000 words - is forward progress. That is the goal. Don’t look at the end. Focus on the now.

Natasja Eby: Just write and don’t worry too much about the word count. If you’ve never done NaNo or written a full novel before, that goal line will feel overwhelming. Write what comes to you, don’t look back, and don’t beat yourself up for not writing as much as you want. It’s meant to be fun!

Sierra Dougherty: Be prepared. I don’t mean schedule, topic or genre (although I do recommend that as well), I mean mentally. One month and you have either written an entire novel or are well on your way.

Neisa Rae: My advice is drop the excuses! …write whenever you have the chance, even if it was only for five minutes in between breakfast and going to work. If you can take your computer with you, write at lunch, write whenever and wherever. It really will add up! Think of it like saving money for that one thing you really wanted to buy. A penny here and there adds up after a while. The same works for writing, and before you know it, you will have written an entire novel!

Marian Rakestraw: Sign up on the website. Commit. Make your promise public. Join your local NaNo forums and participate. One other thing I do is buy the Winner shirt in advance. If I’ve spent the money on it, and it is sitting there waiting for me, I will win.


Sierra Dougherty - IG: @s_dougherty16 - Twitter: @s_dougherty16 -

Natasja Eby - IG: @natasjaeby - Twitter: @natasjaeby -

Jaylyn McCoy - IG: @nonsense_and_ramblings

Neisa Rae - IG @neisasnook - Twitter: @neisasnook -

Marian Rakestraw - IG: @marianrakestraw - Twitter: @marianrakestraw

CL Walters - IG: @cl.walters - Twitter: @peeledandcored -

Michelle Wright - IG: @michellewrite985 -

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