Here we are coming to the close of Preptober and the final week is almost complete. Hopefully, by this point you have some high-level details of your story laid out, some sketches of your characters, their potential development path, and some outline of the overall storyline. You are about to get into the meat of the work coming up next week and while you may still feel unprepared, you have a least a modicum of direction that you can start to pursue. You have a rough or detailed research plan depending on your personality type and have started your exploration into these supporting details for your efforts.
With all of the planning and prep that you have completed comes the final phase of your Preptober journey, developing the resolve to carry through the month of grueling word-smithing that lies ahead of you. Hitting your goals is meant to help you develop a writing routine and habit, after all, consistency is key to establishing any habit. That will not help you stay on task however and you may find that you are in a creative desert with no direction to go. This is where your determination to complete this challenge will come into play.
You are now closer to writing that story, helping you to provide more structure to the skeleton of your tale, while also giving you a taste of where you can take some risks and the rewards that may result. Be honest with yourself about the good and bad of your story, because you can’t fix what you aren’t aware of, or if you are ignoring it.
For more information make sure to check out our other Preptober and Nanowrimo posts, and as always the Nanowrimo site has some incredible resources!
So buckle-up buttercup and let’s get to writing this thing…..
Week 3 is wrapping up and the realization of the extent of the task in front of you is starting to set in. You may be thinking about how much you need to do, feeling daunted at the challenge of meeting writing goals coming up next month, not sure if this is something that you will be able to complete and of course the ever-present imposter syndrome. This is normal, we all feel overwhelmed but the amount of detail that you get as you start trying to piece the montage of details into a cohesive whole is. It is actually a good thing that you are feeling this now, versus in a couple of weeks when you are in full swing of trying to write during NANOWRIMO.
“Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.”
Paul J. Meyer
Taking the time now to work through those emotions and realizing what is triggering them will help you manage those same feelings as you work through your project. Spend the time and come up with some strategies to break it down into smaller chunks that you need to consume, write or research. Write it all down to keep the details out of your brain so that you can free up as much mental capacity as possible for creative endeavors.
This week was Character week, you hopefully have spent quite some time getting to know your primary cast of characters. What did you find surprising about them as you started to figure out what makes them tick? This is one of my favorite parts of writing since you can let your imagination develop all of those friends that you used to play with when you were a kid come back alive and in a way that you will be able to share with others.
Did you focus on the personal or physical dilemma that was facing the protagonist of your story, or did you stretch and also evaluate the moral struggle that you are expecting them to deal with? Hopefully you did both. It always makes for a more relatable character if they are not only changing due to outside pressures but also illustrating how their behavior and thought patterns shift as a result of the development as well.
Don’t forget to support “You”
You should have also spent some time this week working on some mental health strategies for the month of November. Such as how to find more free time to address things that could distract you from achieving your writing goals or how to keep yourself motivated through the writing journey that lies ahead. DO NOT let yourself skimp on this activity set, the energy that put in now will ensure that when you find a challenge in a few weeks you already have the plan to help you overcome it, and that is more valuable than waiting and wasting time later. Procrastination here is not your friend.
You have just 1 more full week and some change in the time left over before the NANOWRIMO kickoff begins and this upcoming week will be all about preparing to make your writing month the most successful that it can be.
Hopefully, you have made it through the slog of details that start to flood your mind when it comes to how your story is starting to take shape. The nebulous form is starting to become clearer in your mind, characters are starting to solidify, the scenery is starting to take form, and the events are taking shape.
It is about this time, that the feelings of being overwhelmed really start to take hold of me. I can sense the looming wave of detail that is hovering on the edge of my writing brain, waiting to slip in and drown me in minutiae that will distract me from my current goal. This is where newer writers start to awaken to the sheer depth of their craft, and also give them an appreciation for the effort that has gone into some of their favorite books.
This week was all about setting up your game plan for the month ahead, getting the bare-bones frameworks in place so that you can continue to expand on the different aspects of the story that you will eventually need to bring together to create the final product. It should all be building on the work and effort you put in last week as well.
After completing the activities in this section, you should have the following:
A list of Topics to research:
This list is very important, this should be the details that you need to nail down to bring a sense of realism to your story and make the actions and environment of your world more relatable to your audience. Once you have a list, don’t leave it for another day either, start working on each topic throughout the rest of this Preptober session so that you can clear that dependency from your path to creating your story.
What are some examples from your list? Here are some of my own for this session:
Non-motorized means of transport and the nature of how that was successful.
Animal behavior and abnormal traits in predatory species.
Weather patterns that are specific to my setting’s geographic profile.
A clear vision of a breathtaking story setting
This is most important to yourself, it will help you to describe the small details, creating the same image in the mind of your readers, it will also help you to further immerse yourself into the story. I can picture myself walking down the same streets, interacting with some of the same people, and really getting a sense of the lives that your characters live. If you are artistic enough to draw or visually create your own setting, that is amazing and can serve as a concrete example of your world. Most people though look towards creating a map of their world, luckily there are some handy web-based options for those that don’t have the time or talent to draw these out from scratch. Check out Inkarnate for example.
Initial Development of Characters
Like all of the other tasks that you have worked on so far this month, this is only the beginning, getting a sense of who you want your characters to be is where you need to be at this stage. You don’t know all of the interesting aspects of their personalities and how they will interact with the world around them. That will come in time, right now you should be focusing on the core of the character, what is making them the driving force behind your story and how their own challenges fit into your broader narrative.
Brainstorm on how to get unstuck
When you get stuck during your writing and you will get stuck, what is your plan to get back on track? Are you going to attack a different aspect of the story-writing process, go for a run, cook something, watch a movie or read a book? There are many ways that can get your brain back on track to follow those creative pathways that are unfolding in your story. The one thing that I can guarantee is that whichever tactic you choose it should always come back to getting words on the page, otherwise it will more likely than not become just another distraction or temptation to procrastinate in doing what you need to be doing. Procrastination is not something you can allow in the NANOWRIMO process, you don’t have time for it.
Outline your Top Ten Scenes
Mapping out your scenes is a standard way to keep track of the numerous plot threads that will start appearing all over your story scape, starting with the basic framework will also help to create a more comprehensive story as you write. Don’t skimp on this step, really spend some time here because most of your challenges in making your story flow can be caught if you have a well-designed plan in place.
Plan to attend a Write-in session
This is a beneficial exercise for those that are struggling to get started, a write-in session will bring you closer to your local writing community as well as give you some additional eyes and ears on potential issues while you are working through your story. Networking with other writers will also be beneficial, especially if they are kind enough to commiserate on their own challenges, their struggles, and how they overcome them. I personally believe the organic interactions that you get from a physical write-in bring a significantly improved experience, though if you are still uncomfortable being around other people, the virtual option may be a better fit.
Clear visualization of how your successful November would appear
There is power in positivity, and you should take advantage of it when describing what your successful NANOWRIMO month would look like. How would you achieve and/or break your word count goals to produce the best, most compelling story that you have ever imagined? Take yourself through exercises where you perceive setbacks and periods of inability to write, visualizing how to overcome these situations and feelings will give you some practice for when the actual events occur. Professional athletes do this type of visualization all the time since it is when things go wrong that you need to continue to perform and push forward to reach your final goals. You are actively working out your mind to do something similar so why not take some inspiration and try it out in your own writing practices?
Where to go next?
As it really starts to sink in the level of the challenges you have chosen to overcome, you will start moving from this awakening period, and into the realization of what is needed to take yourself to the next level of skill in your craft and writing profession. Keep pushing yourself, don’t be satisfied with the surface level of the process, dig deeper and find what works for you so that you can really develop your story into something magnificent. After all, it doesn’t happen by accident, it takes effort and a lot of it.
Coming to the close of Preptober Week 1 and we are already seeing positive traction in moving our story from concept closer to reality. The excitement can be intense, however, the journey has only begun, regardless of your experience level, whether it is a first-time practitioner or a seasoned veteran.
Oh, that initial excitement!
At this point your energy is high, and you are excited about getting into the mix of writing your scenes and interacting with your characters, sharing in their experiences as you build the journeys/events that dominate their world. Take a moment and revel in that feeling, it is something that will not last, and before you get deeper in and the newness begins to wear off, make sure to remember the feel of it so that you can tap into that when the struggle to get the next word down on the page and get that boost needed to reach the next milestone.
Right now, crafting a complete concept model for your story should be a long-term goal, it is not realistic to expect that you will complete this process before you begin writing. Nor should you expect it to remain the same throughout the process. Your story, characters, and writing journey will shape all of that as you get closer to editing time. Don’t add that un-needed pressure on yourself at this point, there will be more than enough time for that later.
Now that I am done pontificating on the process, let’s get into the guts of what is going on in my own process. You can find these prompts and more on Instagram every day this month, Make sure to follow!
Announcing my Word Count Goal for November 2022 :
Point of View:
Keep a watch out for updates and posts as this story evolves: Mission Reports
Remember this level of excitement
The stories that are being planned, written, edited, or published are all starting from somewhere, where does your own begin and what are you willing to do to make it a reality? I don’t think that anyone starting a writing project could not be excited over the ability to create a reality all their own, and try to maintain that through the hard days to come. The time will come when you are faced with that question and hopefully, by the end of this month, you will be able to answer it.