NaNoWriMo Prep: My Strategy for November 2014

In my everyday life, I am a planner, 100%. My ardent love for lists is legendary among my family and friends, and my occasional

(okay, frequent) tendency to color-code those lists is a lesser-known, but still unsurprising, habit. I am not one of those people who can skate through life willy-nilly. I know where I’m going, and I know how to get there. And if, for some reason, I launch into an aimless existential crisis, you can be damn sure I make a list and get a plan. Fast.

When it comes to my creative life, however, I relax the reins.

If you are anywhere remotely near the writing community, you’ll know that there are two types of writers: planners and pantsers. Planners meticulously organize their works before writing. They know the whole plot, every corner of their worlds, and each freckle on each character. Pantsers, on the other hand, just knuckle down at the keyboard and make it up as they go. As the name implies, they fly by the seats of their pants. Much to everyone’s surprise and my own inner-editor’s dismay, when it comes to writing, I lean more toward the pantsing side.

When I arrive at a new story idea, the theme, message, moral lesson — or whatever you like to call it — meets me first. I always have a message before I have a story, characters, or a setting. This is a direct reflection of my reading style and personality as well as a side effect of my sociology degree. In everything, I always want to know the point.

The problem with knowing the point before anything else is that the possibilities for how to express the point are endless. As you can surely guess, this is also the best part of knowing the point first. Now, as much as I want to trust my ability to convey a meaningful message on the fly (Sound untrustworthy? Yeah, I thought so, too), I figured I should probably do some planning on my NaNoWriMo novel idea.

Yes, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. This is where I stop dropping hints and making offhand comments and proudly declare:

I am participating in (and going to win) NaNoWriMo 2014.

However, I know that such a rigorous and frightening undertaking demands planning. Normally, I don’t like to plan. Mostly, I avoid planning, because I feel like it stifles my creativity in expressing my theme of choice. But, I also don’t like to plan too strictly, because if I know the whole story, I feel woefully uninspired to write my story. Knowing everything sucks the adventure out.

Therefore, I am employing a hybrid strategy for NaNoWriMo. Here it is, to be fleshed out in a series of blog posts over the next few weeks:

  1. Motivation: What will inspire me to “win” NaNoWriMo?
  2. Inspiration: What does my world and what do my characters look and feel like?
  3. Plot: Where am I going, and how detailed is my map?
  4. Time Management: How will I cram 1,666 words into my daily life?
  5. Acceptance: Knowing that the quality of my first draft can always be improved, but first, it must be written.

As you can see, I need to piece together the bones of my novel’s skeleton, as well as sort out some real-life logistical details. My hope is this series of blog posts will force me to have a plan for how I will write this novel, why I will write this novel, and a general (but still roomy) concept of what I will write in this novel.

As for theme/message/moral significance, that is for me to know, and hopefully, for you to one day figure out as you read!

If you would like to follow along with my NaNoWriMo journey or be my writing buddy, feel free to check out my profile!



Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips
6 comments on “NaNoWriMo Prep: My Strategy for November 2014
  1. […] When university rolled around, I pursued two Bachelor degrees: English (with concentrations in literature and creative writing) and Sociology. Unfortunately, my university was small, so there was only one creative writing professor. While she was fantastic at teaching poetry (which I hadn’t written since a seventh grade Language Arts unit), creative nonfiction (which I had never heard of and is now my best genre), and she was great at teaching fiction. I understand this perfectly, as fiction is out of her realm of expertise. However, the result of this is that I spent my college career waxing poetic and recounting my life in new way. Useful and enjoyable skills, applicable to fiction, but not fiction. I haven’t made a real go at fiction writing in about three or four years. Needless to say, this leaves me a little nervous for this year’s NaNoWriMo. […]


  2. […] in chair” long enough to crank out 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month. As part of my NaNo prep, I’ve evaluated my strengths and weaknesses and concocted a few different brands of […]


  3. […] I like to start gathering inspiration and references. As I’ve described before, for me, the theme and message of my novel tend to be the first aspects to emerge, with plot following shortly after. However, even before I […]


  4. […] (or even the pen and paper) to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Not only does this task require dedication, motivation, and inspiration, more practically, it also requires writing tools and […]


  5. Reblogged this on Kate M. Colby and commented:

    In case you missed it, here is my original post detailing my NaNoWriMo prep strategy. It is fully updated with links to all of my NaNo Prep posts, so if you missed any of those, they are all here! I’ll be back tomorrow with fresh content — a Halloween special!


  6. […] If you need any more enthusiasm, take a look back at my NaNo Prep series. […]


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