3 Things I’m Going to do Differently for (Camp) NaNoWriMo

One of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo is because it not only challenges you, but it teaches you–that is, if you let it. So, this year, I took a step back to see what I’ve learned.

You see, I really love the novels I’m planning. I want to enjoy writing them in all the drafts, not just the first ones. In my attempt at editing my last NaNoWriMo novel, it was a pain. Everyone said it was simple: macro edit, micro edit, beta readers, done. Mine was simply falling apart and not enjoyable. It wasn’t what it was.

Me being me, I also decided to find out what went wrong and how I could improve. Using that, here is what I am going to do differently this April.

1. Know When to Take Breaks

December 1, I was tired. I’d almost hit my OA goal the night before, then had to go to bed. My novel still had a lot of story left in it. So, I took a few days off. I was not only drained physically, but I was drained of creativity. Forcing yourself to write may be a NaNo essential, but save yourself and know when to take some time off. (I talk more about this here)

2. Run Spellcheck 

What? You mean… editing? Lowering my word count?*clouds turn gray, children scream, stereotype breaks* No, I do not. I mean, when I go back to my novel, I’m going to see “say” instead of “sai”, “that” instead of “dat”, etc, which is going to make it much easier on me. When I am done writing for the day (or if I’m writing a lot, done a chapter), I will run basic spell check so my novel appears easier to edit. It’s a psychological thing. It won’t even take time out of my writing.

3.When in Doubt, Write it Out

No, I did not steal this rhyme from when I played soccer. You may have heard of the whole “write what you love in a novel”. Well, when I’m in writer’s block, I want to write a scene that’s not plot relevant, but it’s just something nice and pretty and flowy that I’m going to enjoy. I recommend this to anyone. Write something merely for your pleasure that you will look back and smile at. (Now, I realize for some of us this may be stabbing characters…please refrain.)

So, that’s what I’m doing differently this April! If you’ve ever participated in NaNo, or ever written a novel, what are you going to do differently next time? What have you learned?

Camp NaNoWriMo: The Complete Guide (For Planners, Pantsers and Everything in Between)

NaNoWriMo the Sequel: Camp NaNoWriMo

Just when you thought all the WriMos were gone… more showed up…as NaNo REBELS!

Camp NaNoWriMo is the time to #rebel from the normal NaNoWriMo foundations. Write whatever you want. Poems? Yes. Sequels? Sure. Editing? Go for it. A million words? You’re crazy, but if so, please call me (555-555, a very real number), because I’m crazy too. Just maybe not a MILLION words crazy… yet. I assure you, read through five of my posts, come back, and try convince me I’m not crazy.

Kinda like last year’s NaNo post, I’ll divide this off into easy-to-find sections. A pet peeve of mine is when a blog post is just one big text block. When does it begin??? I don’t want to hear your story, I want to read the article! What if I want to skip a part?

Just wanted to let you know, I am not a professional writer even though I pretend to be, because confidence is key. I go by my own experience. Feel free to disagree with me at any point. We can have a lovely conversation about it and hopefully we’ll both learn something.

Choosing a Project

Projects You Can Choose From:

  • Writing a draft (or part of one)
  • Writing a bunch of short stories
  • Writing poetry
  • Editing your NaNo novel
  • Rewriting your NaNo novel COMPLETELY
  • Anything you can think of related to writing except reading

Link to NaPoWriMo, which totally counts, and not in the sarcastic way. (It’s February, and all there is on the site is the cool page saying COMING IN MARCH ((actually, it says sign-ups start March 1st)), but I’m not posting until March so you’ll have to see it next year).

Do’s and Don’ts for Choosing a Project:


  • Choose something you enjoy
  • Create a goal that will challenge you but won’t stress you
  • Check your schedule
  • Be caught up on school before you write


  • Force something that doesn’t work
  • Choose a goal too high/hard and completely break in April and June
  • Stay up late and wake up at an unreasonable hour to write
  • Ignore all your other priorities

Can you tell what I learned this year from NaNoWriMo? And every other project ever?

Prep and Types of Writers

Types of Writers (prose only)

There are four general categories as far as I’m concerned. (In Case You Didn’t Know: Plotter is someone who plans out their novel before writing, pantser writes “on the edge of their pants” by letting the story come naturally as they write it, and plantser is the “perfect” in between).

The Total Plotter

The total plotter will plan out every single detail. Typically, they have a very high wordcount by the time they are done because they have envisioned everything, but not always. They prefer to know all there is about their story. They tend to have an easier time in editing, but their story can come off as stiff.

The Plotter-Based Plantser

There are many degrees of Plantser-ism, and this is one. The plotter-based plantser likes to keep the element of surprise (however, they need plans or they will freak out), so they typically will make an outline, but not a very detailed one. They like to know the main events of the story, the backstories of their characters, and do some world building. However, sometimes their plans can flop and they will get very confused without them.

The Pantser-Based Plantser 

The pantser-based plantser will not use an outline, or if they do, a very broad one. They only like to get an idea of their story before they start writing, a helpful little guideline. Their document labeled “prep” will only be a couple pages long. Oftentimes they envision their story in their head. Sometimes, though, they come to a dead end and writer’s block strikes.

The Complete Pantser

The complete pantser doesn’t even come up with a title for their book before writing: a couple character names and a quick synopsis, usually. They come up with new ideas as they go along. Because they do this, their writing sounds fresh and it really feels like the characters are going on the journey for the first time. It’s exciting, but editing can be a nightmare and writer’s block can make it hard to move on.

Which degree are you? Anything in between? I’m more of a plotter-based plantser. I don’t like insane details, or I get bored, but if I don’t have a plan I’ll get confused and my story will fail.

How do I know all these degrees, you make ask? I have experienced them all– you don’t understand. Literally all of them. But I am a plotter-based plantser, as seen above. At least, I think. It could change after this round of novels.

Preparing to Edit

What I do is read through, at least until the part where my brain died and literally everything fell apart. I’m also marking which parts need to be rewritten, partially re-written, and deleted. Of course, I’m going back, but you don’t have to.

The point is to assess what you need to do. How do you want to divide your edits? Create a plan.

Preparing to Write

Oh, here’s where things get fun! I shared all of my methods for prep here, basically a bunch of ideas, and a way for even the pantsiest of pantsers (that’s a word) to prepare here. A basic summary of this article: Writing when you feel like it is like training for a marathon whenever you feel like it. Practicing writing every day will make NaNoWriMo a lot easier for you, just like it would be easier to run after a training schedule.

Because I have already done this, let’s not. 

Kidding. Find your own way. What works for you? Write down everything you typically struggle with when writing. Plot seems stiff? Loosen your outline. Or, do your plots fail? Go into more detail. Characters annoying or flat? Learn more about them.

Links, Tips, and Such For the Other Projects

Scriptwriting: http://www.mensaforkids.org/teach/lesson-plans/writing-a-screenplay/

Poetry: http://www.napowrimo.net/ (I’m linking to it again)

Kind of a letdown. But, it’s what I’ve got. (If you know of or have any resources or tips for the other projects, let me know and I’ll add them up here to share with everyone!)

Keeping it Organized

I used to have all of my prep spread all over the place (digitally). But, what I do is I have a folder for each novel. What goes in there is the novel itself, the drafts, the prep, and anything else I find useful. In my prep, I like to use a large, noticeable text to define where things are, like characters, plot, outlines, descriptions, and basic details. This can be a great format to keep poetry and songs organized in! This also works for screenplays.

After I have it all finished out, I’m going to move it onto WikidPad so I can find it all easily when I need it while writing my first draft. I don’t use WikidPad very often, but it seems to work pretty well, even if it requires a bit of coding. I heard about it in Jill Williamson’s book Storyworld First, which is another great recourse.

So, that’s my post for Camp NaNoWriMo. You should see a description of my novels in the next My Writing Life. Anyway, as promised, more non-writing-related posts coming!

What are you doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, if you are? Are you rebelling, or using this as an opportunity for your first draft? Do you need a cabin? Because me, Sarah, and Chloe have a cabin and we need members. Comment if you do.

Should I change my signature?

2016 NaNoWriMo Prep

Yes, in seven short days, NaNoWriMo is coming. I don’t know about you, but I love reading NaNo prep posts all year round. They’re useful for whenever you’re writing a novel (not just in November). I like learning about how other writers plan for their novels; I find it helps give me ideas to prepare. Of course, some of you may be tired of NaNo posts. Read on anyway, because chocolate.


So, what this post is going to cover:

*How I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo

*How I’m plotting my novel

*Some awesome links to helpful NaNo posts

NaNoWriMo Prep

What’s the difference between prepping for NaNoWriMo and preparing for your novel? Some might say none, but there are some differences.

  1. You’re going to need to be writing every day.

I wrote a post about this on Girls Writing For God’s Glory last month. Especially now, you should be writing, no matter what it is. My days are unpredictable, so I don’t have a specific time to write (though I really should try. I write when I can.)

How much are you going to be writing for NaNo each day? I challenge you, write those many words a day this final week of October.

2. You’re writing a novel, which requires rewards.

This isn’t necessary, but many people get foods such as chocolate, hot coccoa, coffee and more as rewards for writing. What I do when I need to focus is I put on music, but I can only listen to it while I’m working, not getting distracted.

Novel Prep

I enjoy sorting all my prep together. In the past, I’ve used a binder. I’m using WikidPad this year, which is a little complicated to use at first, but it’s really easy to find information on as it comes up in your novel.

What I Have so far for Novel Prep:

General Outline– I use a few words for each section of my novel. Each section will probably add up to one to three chapters. This way, I’m not conformed to one idea if more come up as I write, but I’m not completely lost if they don’t.

November’s Problems– I thought up all the reasons I would stop writing in November and wrote them down, then came up with solutions.

Known Characters– Just what it sounds like. This is a list of characters I know are in the novel and their purpose.

Names to Use– When writing novels, I often find myself adding random characters I did not plan on, heaven knows why. So, I wrote I list of names that fit with my story so I’m not stuck coming up with a name for five minutes I could be writing.

What I Know and Don’t Know– The first part is a few paragraphs of the general idea of the plot and twists and backstory. The next part is mostly like possible things I can use as plot twists, mini holes in the story and foreshadowing.

Character Interviews– I have interviews for my two main characters and my friend and I have interviewed each other’s characters, even minor ones, IRL (it’s very fun. I highly recommend it.).

Not Finished:

Goals– This is what I’m working now. I’m using the questions at Go Teen Writers for my characters’ goals. (Linked below)

Backstory Writing– Basically, writing out important things that have happened to my characters before the novel in the form of a short story.

Storyworld: I probably should have started writing this down sooner, but a lot of it is planned in my head. Jill Williamson’s Storyworld First is really helpful.

Awesome Links 

Ideas, printouts, sheets, etc. Not ads. 

NaNoWriMo Printouts 2016

Character Goals

Another NaNo Post

Studies in Character (great for character interviews)

Novel Workbooks

If you know of any other great NaNo posts, or have made some yourself, comment the link below so I can share it! (Of course, make sure it’s all ages appropriate.)

I hope you enjoyed this post! What are your favorite prep methods? Are you participating in NaNo this year?


Camp NaNoWriMo- Survival, Ideas, and More

As some of you may know, Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in April and July. I will be working on a new book (the only title I have for it so far is Switching Forte, but I’ll probably come up with something better). Anyway, I’m going to share some of my tips. Last year, I worked on a short sequel to my first novel. If you don’t know what Camp NaNoWriMo is, go here for the 13 + or go here for the YWP if you’re under 13.


Camp NaNo isn’t hard to survive if you’re taking the easy way. With camp, you can do any writing project, with any word count goal. If you decide to write a book, though, like I am, you’re going to need to plan like you would in November.

1. Daily WCG

My daily WCG, or word count goal, is 2000. My goal is to end up with about 60,000 words by the end of April. If you were doing 30,000 words, you would have a daily WCG of 1000. If you were editing, you would edit one or two chapters a day based on how long your editing project is. For me, if I have a goal to reach it makes it easier for me to complete it.

2. Word Crawls and Word Wars 

Word Crawls are created by other NaNoers. You can find the original list of word crawls here. Word Crawls are interactive stories, and they give you writing goals. For example: You walk up to the house. Write 100 words while you wonder what’s inside. 

Word Wars are something on the forums where you compete with others to write the most words for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. minutes. These encourage you to write as quickly as you can.

Choosing an Idea

Let’s say you haven’t prepared for Camp NaNo yet. What should you do?

1. Journals

Some of you may have a writer’s journal in which you keep ideas in. If you have some stored up, pick your favorite. If you don’t, grab a journal. Take a walk, carry it around with you all day, find stories in the everyday life. See an old, abandoned building? Create a story around it. (I have actually have seen an old, abandoned building, and it is very story-worthy).

2. Inspiration 

What are your favorite books about? Now, I’m not saying to copy them. Do not copy them. But be inspired by them, come up with a new way to tell the story. Maybe you can’t write about a world called Narnia, but you can use the idea of transporting to other worlds to create books like Keeper of the Lost Cities or Whatever After.

Avoiding Writer’s Block

If you’re looking for writing prompts, you’re in luck! Loren has two boards, here and here. Genna and C. have a board here just for Camp NaNo Prep.

GoTeenWriters did a post about outlining here, which can help you if you’re stuck on your novel. I have a binder of information that can help me while I’m creating my story, such as class schedules, backstory, and plotting.

If you’d like, you can check out my blog post on Girls Writing for God’s Glory about writers block (and a failed NaNo experience) here.

I hope you all have a great Camp NaNo, no matter what project you’re doing! cropped-josieonthego.com_.jpg

How to Create Fantasy World- Collab

Hey, everyone! Today I’m doing a collab with the amazing Loren at Blue Eyes, Gray Eyes. We’re doing How to Create a Fantasy World, as you may tell. I’m going to do five points, and she’s going to take the same points and do them from a different angle. Be sure to check her blog soon for the next post! Let’s get started.


1. Inhabitants

Different worlds mean different people who live in them. They could be animals, elves, wizards, or even your own creation. Making them different with different personalities can be the key to making it feel like a new world.

2. Locations

One awesome thing about creating fantasy worlds is making locations that would never exist in this world. For example, in Keeper of the Lost Cities, there’s an indoor waterfall. In Harry Potter, there’s Hogsmead. Be creative!

3. Cultures

New world, new people, new cultures. Maybe all the royalty wear shoes that change color on every hour, or the townspeople celebrate Christmas by catching stars. Maybe children are forbidden to befriend each other. Make it fit your story- or give it an interesting twist.

4. Magic

This doesn’t have to be magic, magic, but the element of magic. Like, say, in Narnia when the painting comes to life, or when Lucy travels through the wardrobe. This can be extremely fun to write, beacuese it will feel like you’re using magic while writing it.

5. Government

What makes a fantasy world complete? Government! This is the way your world is ruled.  It changes the story completly. The council of elves, the White Witch, or maybe a government that decides everyone can get free ice cream (just kidding, that might cause your fantasy world’s first world war. Unless you want that to happpen, then go ahead.).

I hope you enjoyed this post! What is your fantasy world like? Share in the comments below.


Je regrette the lack of posts lately. My inbox is full of half-written posts.s full of