NaNoWriMo newbie guide

With Camp NaNoWriMo a mere week away, I was asked to explain this event and I’m happy to oblige 🙂


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an event that takes place three times a year: April, July and November. April and July are called the Camp months. These are easier and nice to get into the habit of writing or to prepare yourself and/or your project for November.


NaNoWriMo originally started as a challenge in a small group of friends in the USA. Their goal was to write the first draft of a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. It didn’t have to be a finished product, but it would be a start from which you could move on to a complete finished product.

Current state

By now it has grown into an international phenomenon in which writers from all over the world participate. Several well-known authors have started at NaNoWriMo! And not only has it grown into an international event, it has also expanded with two more months: The Camp months. Let me start with those.

The Camps

The camps are in a virtual cabin at Each cabin can hold a maximum of 20 people and basically consists of a chat function that’s on the site.


Camps are easier than the main event, because you can set your own goals. You pick one of the following:

  • Words

  • Hours

  • Minutes

  • Lines

  • Pages

and set the goal for it that you want to achieve by the end of the month. Do you think you won’t be able to make the default 50k? Start with 25k or 10k even. You free to choose your goal 😀 And…… If, for example, halfway through the month, you discover you can’t reach your target, you can adjust it. Of course you can also up the target!

Each camp runs from the first of the month to the last day of the month. The start and end times are from your own time zone, so there’s no stress about checking the time in another zone.

The site has a counter which you can adjust to display your goal count. The counter helps to display a graph of your progress and the progress of your cabin.

How will you know you’ve won?

When the time comes to validate your project, there will be a validation tool to validate your project. It is a simple pop-up field in which you paste the text of your project, if your goal was to write a certain amount of words.

I don’t know how the other goals are validated, because I have never done those goals for camps, but I do know there are ways to validate those as well.

Mind you, Camp, nor the main event, stores your novel. The validation process will only check the amount of words and then delete the whole text again. The basic information of your project (the info you fill out in the project info, is kept)

What can you win?

You’ll get a certificate 😀

Besides that there are several offers from sponsors that might give you discounts or even free access depending on participating and winning. For example:
Scrivener gives you a 20% discount coupon for participating. But if you win, you’ll get a 50% discount coupon. If you haven’t worked with Scrivener before, there is a free 30-day trial which of course is handy to use during either one of the events.

How do you get into the cabin?

Once you have created a project, you have several options:

  • you can tell the system to sort you into a cabin

  • you can search the forums ( for a suitable cabin and ask for an invite

  • or you can start your own cabin and post about it on the forums to get fellow campers in your cabin

My experiences with camps

The first time I was in a camp, it was a rather quiet cabin where halfway down the line no one participated any more.

After that I set up my own cabin (NaNoEUFantasy), which I have now been successfully running since April 2017. We have a steady group of veteran camp members who are very active. And not only during the camp months, but also afterwards.

We stay in touch through Slack (We’re probably moving to Discord after Camp July) where we talk about everything writing related (and sometimes about things like GoT, the frustrating or worrying weather – which can be an excellent input for your world building! – or just rant because things don’t go the way we planned).

We intentionally do not invite people in the Slack/Discord channel who haven’t been with us in the cabin before, because we want to get to know each other first. We have build up a certain level of trust that gives us the freedom to say a lot of things we might otherwise not say. And we share a lot about our novels as well. That is the way it can grow when you’ve got an active cabin 😀

Our cabin always fills up very quickly, but it’s not suitable for everyone. When Camp is in full swing, the chat can be very active resulting in sometimes a couple a hundred of message you might have missed if you’re not there for a day or two. A few of my local writing friends, for example, found our cabin too active.

Cabin leaders & participants

A cabin during camp stands or falls with it’s leader and a few steady participants. When no activities have been organized (or you feel you don’t have the freedom to organize activities yourself), you might find a cabin is rather quiet. That is good if that is what you prefer, but if you’re looking for a bit more activity (or if for any other reason the cabin doesn’t seem to fit you), you’re free to leave the cabin and search for another.

In our cabin we start with a pre-camp chat, a kick off on the first day of camp, themed chats twice a week during camp and regular word sprints. So, those are a LOT of activities!

Most importantly a cabin should be a fun experience for you. If you don’t feel at home in the cabin of your choice (of the auto-selection the camp has done for you), feel free to leave the cabin and join another one. You’re not obligated to stay in that one cabin during the whole camp.

The main basics

November is a bit different from camps. This time you’re challenged to write 50.000 words. There are no other options available. If you want to be very strict:

  • it has to be a completely new project without any words written yet (besides the preparations like outline, world building, character development, etc).

  • You can’t include any new words written for world building, character development and everything else that is not the story

NaNo Rebels

But there are lots of people who are the so called rebels. They will continue with a novel they’ve already started before (or write the nth draft), they might include all their world building notes, or they might write articles for their blog instead. So there’s a different kind of freedom in November

Not for the faint of heart

Mind you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It can get tough at times. 50,000 words in a month means 1,667 words per day, every day. Usually the first week is pretty doable for everyone. The week after that is the hardest week. It is the week where doubt often sets in. This is the week where support from the forums, social media and loved ones comes in very handy! The third week is usually a bit easier than the second and the last week is really the week of getting that home run.

There is a way to make things a little easier on yourself and that’s reversed NaNoWriMo ( This is where you start out strong with double the daily amount and starting halfway through the month you only need to write less and less than the daily amount, ending with 1 word on the last day!

Social life put on hold

The main event can be a strain on your social life. After all, often this is something people do besides their normal daytime job, the household, the care of children, etc. Staying in touch with friends and family can become hard if you also want to reach your target. A few things participants often do are:

  • prepare meals upfront and put them in the freezer (family only needs to warm them up!)

  • Buy/make a large supply of drinks and snacks that you can have during your writing (you’ll get less cranky!)

  • announce upfront to all and everyone what you’re going to do in November and apologize in advance for not being reachable

  • Get up half an hour earlier than normal to write. That way you already have some words under your belt before the day normally starts.

  • Take a holiday break from work for a few weeks (it’s what I always do. I always pick the last two weeks of November as a holiday.) That way you’ll have to time write and stay in touch with friends and family.

Local activities

Local ML’s (Municipal leaders) will often organize a kick-off a few days or a week or so before November. You won’t write that day/evening, but you’ll get in touch with others who will participate, maybe have dinner, exchange care-packages and more. In the Netherlands we always do this in Utrecht and we have a huge gathering!

Afterwards there may be the TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) parties. The turn up there might be small, because people are tired. I know in the Netherlands it’s not always easy, because for us it’s usually around Sinterklaas (December 5) and thus often enough weekends are already fully booked with dinners and something we call “Pakjesavond” where we exchange gifts (children of course think Sinterklaas has come to pay a visit!). But the meetings are fun nonetheless 😀

How will you know you’ve won?

It’s the same as with camp.

What will I win?

Like with camp there are several sponsors. Some may post something upfront while others will only be shown to you when you’ve won. Mostly it’s coupon for discount or free lessons, for example.

And of course, you’ll get a certificate as well.

In conclusion

Is NaNoWriMo something for everyone. No. At least not the main event. If you have never tried it before, my advice is to start with camp. See how that goes for you. If you like it, progress to November 😀

But… Every word written, whether you reach your goal or not, is more than what you had before, so you always have progress! Keep that in mind 😀 You have never lost!

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know!

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2019

Camp NaNoWriMo

in which I tell a bit about Camp NaNoWriMo and my cabin NaNoEUFantasy&SciFi

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is an event where you can join a virtual cabin with 19 other writers and enjoy a month of writing frenzy, inspiration and much more.

What is camp all about?

The main thing, of course, is writing. You’ll set up a goal you want to reach this month and try to achieve it. And you meet up with several writers in an online cabin.

Your goal

Your goal can be set in words, hours, minutes, lines and pages, unlike in November, where the only goal is in words. You can chose a lesser amount than the normal 50.000 words NaNoWriMo November has. And of course, if you really wanna go for it, you can choose an even greater goal.

What will you write?

During camp, you’re free to write anything you want. While the goal for NaNoWriMo November is to write a novel, during camp you can edit your drafts, work on world building, plot your next novel, do research or basically anything else you’d like to write during Camp.


What are these cabins about? I’ve heard that question often. Basically it’s a virtual cabin where you group with 19 other writers. At Camp NaNo you enter your project details and you state if you’d like to be added to a cabin randomly or you can set up your own cabin. If you don’t want to start your own cabin and do not want to be entered to just some cabin, you can also look on the forums for a cabin to join.

Camp activities?

Are there any camp activities? Well, that all depends on the group. In the groups I’ve been in, we have regular chats in the weekends and we’re quite active during the week as well. Once camp’s over, we even have our own (closed) Slack group where keep in touch.

NaNoEUFantasy&Sci-Fi cabin

For several years and camps I’ve run a fantasy cabin especially for those who live in Europe or are especially active during our writing hours. This year we’ve added Sci-Fi as well because a few of our long standing members are writing more sci-fi this camp.

Our cabin is, two weeks before camp starts, already full! And because of that, we decided to start our themed chats. the cabin is very active already and I love it!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep: Outline & Magical World Builder

Magical World Builder

Are you preparing for NaNoWriMo2017? I am. Luckily my preparations seem to go at a steady pace. Are you looking for things to prepare? Perhaps the Magical World Builder is something for you besides outlining.

Okay, so, yesterday I didn’t report any progress, but I did make progress. After some bad news I received, I just wasn’t in the mood to write about it anymore. Now I’m doing better so I thought I’d share my progression with you.


One of the things on my checklist is to finish the outline of my first draft of my first book, since I’m still writing that. Today I finished that outline! It also became quite clear that I’m not yet halfway with writing my book, but that’s okay. Once my first draft is finished, I can always edit and remove things I don’t like 😀

Later on this month I’ll make the outline for Book 2. First, I’ve got other things on my checklist to do.

NaNo goal adjusted

I had originally thought to start with book 2 on November 1st. Now I think I might not have finished the first draft of book 1 yet, so I’ll continue with that first in November. Once that’s finished I’ll continue with book 2. #Challenge

Magical World Builder

Magical World Builder
Source: Inkarnate

The above picture hardly looks like a proper world, now does it? Let’s see, there’s a castle, a LOT of ocean and apparently some mountain ranges . And the rest is empty…..

Rest assured, this is NOT the map of my world. There will be so much more on my map. And my map will be much bigger than this. There is so much to include.

And World building is so much more than only drawing a map. A map is handy to see if your characters should go north instead of south. It would, after all, be a shame if they end up way deep in the south when the city where they needed to be is way up north. Could be an interesting story line telling your reader why they ended up in the south, but all in all, a map could come in handy.

But that is not all what world building is about. It is one aspect. But there’s so much more, like the government system, the culture, what kind of clothes do your characters wear, what kind of industrialization is there (if any), etc.

To build my world properly I’m going to follow the steps in Stephanie Cottrell Bryant’s Magical World Builder. The PDF she created about this is chock full of information. And for those who want to “get their hands dirty” there’s a full 30-days exercise to build your world. And that is exactly what I’m using.

Once I’m finished with that, I’m definitely going to check it against the Game Of Thrones Wiki to see if there are other interesting things I may already have in the back of my mind, but not yet in my story bible yet. And perhaps things that haven’t been included in my world building just yet.

Story Bible

Story Bible

A story bible is something that every author, if s/he makes one, does the way it’s best for him/her. In the past I’ve kept all my notes in one box. They usually got all jumbled up together. I can tell you, that really doesn’t work!

I’d like to choose an option that’s also more environmental friendly. And thus I turn to a digital form. In Scrivener I can store a lot of information, including photos, which can be very useful. I also want an option to check things online when I’m not at home. And I’d like to share my world with you while I’m creating it and for you to read once my books have been released. That is why I have decided to have an online story bible, right here on my site. I will go through my World building exercises almost daily and I will share the information with you here. Of course I will only share information that doesn’t give away spoilers. I can’t give away the clue to the story before it’s been released, now can I? 😀

I can give you a tidbit of what I’ve been working on the last few days.

Funeral rituals

There are many different people in my world. And each group has its own funeral rituals. Some may seem very similar to our Earth rituals, while other  are different. Seers have other rituals than Dragon Riders, while Commoners have rituals that may seem more like earth rituals


My world is a pseudo-medieval setting. This means there is no industrialization, nor technical advancement as we know it. But there are different things that may hint at what we have. Take communication, for instance. Seers will usually use a special bowl with a certain ritual and herbs to establish a communication link. There are, however, also a few seers, from old families, who have inherited special communication devices through which they can communicate with other seers who have a similar device. How this works exactly and how they attained this, is something that will become more clear in the story. If you’re lucky, I might share some more information about it in the future.

History of the Dragon Riders

Each people has its own history, like we all do. One of the things I wanted to have a bit more clearer is the history of the dragon riders. Why is it that dragons allow people to ride on their backs? Why is it that dragons might defend their riders at all costs? What is their benefit in this relationship?

These were among the questions I wanted to answer, inspired by questions several of my Twitter followers asked me.

Later on I will share more details about their history. For now I’ll leave you with this tidbit:
People were hunting down dragons for their rumored treasures and because they killed their livestock now and then. And then a change came about.

These are all things that came up the last few days. Even though I wasn’t going through my Magical World Builder exercises, that’s okay. This is all important information and I’ll fit it in my story bible nonetheless. After all, this process is all about getting to know my world better, so that my story becomes a really lively story, something that comes alive before your eyes.

Are you world building? Perhaps even using the 30-day exercise of the Magical World Builder from Stephanie? Share your experiences in the comments!

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NaNoWriMo2017 Prep: expanded outline and loads of world building!

NaNoWriMo2017 Prep Part 4: Outline

How are you doing with your preparations for NaNoWriMo2017? I hope everything is going well! I’ve worked on my outline again and I’ve done some more world building. Things are looking good!

Incredible what a day at work can bring. That is, if you’ve got a job like mine. I’m an interior cleaner. Yeah, it’s not the greatest job in the world, but hey, it pays the bills. And a very nice side effect is that I can think about my story while I’m doing my job. How nice is that? It’s exactly what I did today.


Although I’ve written stories without any outline, I felt from the start that with this story, or rather series of books it is turning into, I NEEDED an outline. I just didn’t want a fixed outline that wouldn’t give me any freedom. Which is something I’m kinda used to from high school and college. It was something I HATED!

When I found “NaNoWriMo for the New and Insane” by Lazette Gyfford, I found my solution. Not only does she give a hilarious, mostly accurate, view on NaNoWriMo, she also presents a, for me new, way to make outlines: the phased outline.

Phased Outline

A phased outline works with key words and key phrases. Perhaps even a quote you’d like to include in your story. And that’s it. A couple of dozen words can turn into a full chapter in your story. And that is what has happened for me ever since I started using that method.

A few sentences, sometimes not even more than 15 words can turn into whole chapters of thousands of words for me. Apparently a little spark is all I need to go on.

Book I

As you may have seen in my checklist I still have to finish my first draft of my first book. That’s okay. I don’t mind that. Although I’m slowly starting to realize I might not be able to finish it I do get more and more ideas for both my world and the stories within it. At the moment I’ve added several phases to the outline of book I. Nothing yet for book II, but for that to happen I need to have at least the outline of book I finished. At the rate it’s going now, I hope to have the outline finished in a few days, cause it’s developing fast!

World Building

While I was at work today, I’ve also come up with several additions for my world building. At the moment I can’t tell you any specifics, but I can tell you that a few things in my book and my outline now make more sense. Not because I made the world to fit around it, but because the world grew like this and the book and the outline turned out to fit neatly in the world with perhaps a few small changes, but nothing “life changing” sorta speak.

Later on I’ll write more on world building when I’m going through the steps of The Magical World Builder.

Suffice to say that my world turns out to be older than I thought and the civilizations turned out to be older as well. And there were more civilizations before the current ones. The current ones grew from the older ones, as you see happen often, of course.

Enough said

For today, this is it. I’ve made quite the progress and I’ll continue to make much more progress if things keep going the way they are now. And I’m happy with it.

How do you build your outline? Do you write each and every change? Or are you more like me? And world building, how does that go for you? Do you imagine a large new world filled with wonders, adventures and dangers for your characters to travel through? Or is your world more or less like Earth? Let me know in the comments!

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NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep: Testing Aeon Timeline

Testing AeonTimeLine

Do you struggle with the progression of days, weeks, months or even years in your story? I knew I had to have a system for this, to keep everything in order while I’m writing my books. For this I tested Aeon TimeLine. See why I chose this program to use for the future!

We’ve got a little over 30 days to go until November 1st. There’s still a lot to do for me, but there’s one thing I can check off my list: Testing Aeon TimeLine. I needed to know if it would answer all my needs in writing projects. Here’s what I found.

My needs

As a writer I can write in many different genres. My heart has always been in Fiction. Fantasy fiction to be precise. It wasn’t until I was writing Chased that I found the need to have a tool that would display a timeline properly, instead of a rough timeline on paper. At times it simply became unreadable because I wanted to cram so much information in it. So, I made a list of what I need in a timeline tool. I need a tool that:

  • displays events in chronological order
  • gives me an overview of my characters in each event
  • shows me if my characters can actually be in a certain event given the time they need to travel to the location
  • lets me include new events in between other, already existing events without making a mess of the timeline
  • will allow me to include more information than simply the event title, like location, roles of the characters in the scenes, perhaps even emotions of the characters
  • keeps track of not only the timeline of book one, but also the timelines of sequels all in one document, in one handy overview
  • can be included/synced with Scrivener
  • has the possibility to create my own calendar
  • potentially can include multiple kinds of arcs. I want to include not only the story arc, but also the character’s arc so that I know if s/he will make any personal progress, have a personal growth

Armed with this list, I started my search for a good tool.

Aeon TimeLine

I’ve looked around for timeline programs and systems. None of them seemed to be the solution for my needs, until I was pointed to Aeon TimeLine. I decided to give it a try, especially since it has a very nice trial period of 30 days. The site comes with good videos and support articles that will help you get started. It also has a nice overview of the programs features and that convinced me to try it out and see if it would be the answer to my needs.

Chronological order

A chronological order is something you’ll basically find in every program or system. It’s usually the base of a timeline, so it would be very strange if a program or system wouldn’t have this possibility.

Character overview per scene

Aeon TimeLine has a very good overview for that.

Character Overview in Aeon Timeline
Source: AeonTimeLine

This overview even shows you what kind of role your character has in the particular scene, for example an observer or a participant, or whatever role you set up. And if there are multiple characters in one scene, you can see that easily in this overview. Ideal!

Time passed

For me to see if a character can actually be at a certain location, it comes in handy to know how much time has passed in the story. Aeon TimeLine has the possibility to show you how much time has passed between scenes and thus give insight on the possibility of a character being able to make it to a certain place. In the image below I’ve set the overview to Group by person.

Time passed for a character
source: Aeon TimeLine

If you click on the image it will open a larger version in a new window. If you look there, you’ll see on the left hand side how much time has passed for the character Poirot between the scenes displayed. That gives you the possibility to check for inconsistencies.

Include new events

When I’m writing or making an outline, I find myself coming up with new scenes that might fit better in between scenes I’ve already written or perhaps even in a scene I’ve already written. On a traditional Pen & Paper timeline this would mean I’d gradually make a mess of my timeline and eventually had to start over because of this exact same mess.

With Aeon TimeLine, however, I find that I can easily add scenes where ever I want, I can move scenes around and much more all without making a mess of the timeline. Ideal for someone like me. Especially since I have the tendency to think up scenes when I’m at my job and find they fit perfectly…. in between other scenes or perhaps even before all other scenes.

More information

On a traditional timeline you’ll often only see the “Title” and that’s about it. I’d prefer to have more information. And Aeon Timeline offers exactly that.

Source: Aeon TimeLine

In the above picture you can see that participants are shown in the expanded view of the scene.

Source: Aeon TimeLine

In the above picture you can see a the date, a summary and even a picture that’s included. Although I might not include a picture in my timeline, having a summary, character information and more is very helpful!

Sequel Timelines included

In the timeline settings you can not only have Arc as options to display, but you can include more. In my case I’ll be including Book I Arc, Book II arc, etc. That way I can keep everything neatly in one overview, while at the same time keeping everything separated as it’s supposed to be.  And this also gives me the possibility to plan events for later books, that might play already during the timeline of the first book. I could perhaps reference to it or it might be foreshadowing or something else. Either way it’ll definitely help me to keep things running smoothly.

Syncing with Scrivener

Now, this is something I haven’t done yet, but it’s a default feature in Aeon Timeline and that’s a BIG plus. Not only will all the information be ported to Scrivener, but when you change things in Scrivener, you can update your timeline as well. Aeon Timeline will point out doubles, errors and such, so that you are aware of those and can fix them. How great is that?

My own Calendar

When you write fiction you don’t necessarily NEED to have a calendar, let alone a calendar created especially for your story. BUT…. I kinda just want it. If only to make dates like “Year of the Earth Dragon, 1st of the Moon Month” or anything else I’ll come up with during my world building.

Then again I might not come up with anything and just skip it all together, but with Aeon TimeLine I have the OPTION to make my own calendar and use that for my timeline instead of our earth calendar. And I love that I have that option.

In fact you don’t even need a calendar. Aeon Timeline only needs a starting date. If you prefer not to work with dates or anything like that, but only events, you can do that. You do need to set a first date, simply because the program needs a starting point, but from there on you can totally ignore the date thing and create something of your own.

Multiple kinds of arcs

In a story you always have a story arc. That’s the progression your story goes through. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story, but only a bullet list of events. On top of that story arc, there is the progression of your characters. In the ideal situation your characters go through a progression as well. They grow through your story, through everything they encounter, every adventure they have. They learn, the adjust, they dreams or life goals are met or perhaps adjusted and they go through personal growth.

Perhaps they learn to work together with others, where they would never have done before they entered your story, or maybe they’ve learned to deal with certain emotions which they ignored before. There are a lot of things a character will go through. In Aeon TimeLine you can reflect that. And that’s ideal!


I’m sure there are lots of things I haven’t run into yet about making a timeline. And there are probably several things in Aeon Timeline that I haven’t seen yet, but in the end, this seems to be the tool for me. I’m also quite sure I’ll not only use it for my current story, but also for all stories to come in the future. So, even though it’s $50 it’s worth the money for me.

Mind you, it might not be the answer to YOUR needs, so you might have a different opinion 🙂

Do you use timelines for your story? If so, how do you make them? What do you use? Do you include any extra information? And how do you combine it with your word processing program? Let me know in the comments!

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NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep: Progression

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How far are you with your preparations? I’ve made some progression today! Follow me on my journey of preparations towards November!

With a little over 31 days to go, I’ve worked on my preparations for November today. And I have made progression!

The goal?

I’ve made quite a list of preparations, as I posted yesterday. Today I worked on the first goal:

Complete the outline of the 1st draft of book I

Even though this story has been in the making for over a year, I still didn’t have a finished outline. So, working on this is quite essential.

My progression

It’s not easy to finish an outline for the first draft, while I already have lots of ideas for the second draft of this same book. Because of those ideas, I decided to pretend to continue with the story as if several things already had happened. Things I still have to write. Scenes that will be in the second draft and not in my first.

That decision made it easier to continue with my outline for the first draft. As a result I’ve added six scenes at the beginning of the book to the outline of my second draft (yep…. you read that right!) and added some information for more details (like: tell something about the life in the city, tell something about the surroundings, etc). I’ve noticed those were things I had almost left out. Which of course doesn’t work.

Additionally I’ve adjusted several phases I hadn’t written yet and added about five scenes to the outline of my first draft. With these adjustments I’ve written in some things that actually haven’t been touched in the first draft yet, but will be present in the second draft, so that’s okay.

That’s it for today

Even though neither outline is finished yet, I’ve made a nice progress, so I’m happy with the result. Especially since today was a day of Grocery shopping (yeah, those things have to be done….), friends who visited and a sleep in because I was still tired of the weekend in Scotland. I really need to catch up before November starts!

How about tomorrow?

Tomorrow I’m going to continue on this path. I really want to get more into the outline. And I hope to do some more world building. I’ve drawn a very rough map for my story and I hope to be able to work on that a bit more with Inkarnate.

One thing I’m definitely going to do is test Aeon Timeline, if only because my trial period is coming to an end in a few days. I want to have it tested before that.

How are you doing with your preparations for NaNoWriMo? Have you made any progress? What are you most looking forward to in your story?

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NaNoWriMo Prep 2017: Are you ready?

NaNoWriMo Prep 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 starts November 1st. Are you ready? Or can you use some more ideas? Join me in my journey of NaNoWriMo Prep to get ready for THE writing event of the year!

The international event National Novel Writing Month 2017 is around the corner:

It seems like a long time (32 days at the moment of writing), but it’s here before you know it. This year I’ve decided to take the route of the PLANNER instead of the PANTSER/PLANTSER with a bit of pantsing built into it.  Which pretty much means I’ve got a lot to do still.

What is NaNoWriMo?

But let’s start with what NaNoWriMo actually is.  Basically the National Novel Writing Month is an international writing event where you write, in your own favorite writing place, 50.000 words of your novel. It starts November 1st, 12:00AM and ends November 30th, 11:59PM in your own timezone.

So, a NATIONAL event is INTERNATIONAL? How does that work?

Well, in the beginning….. there was a group of friends in the USA who wanted to challenge themselves to write a certain amount of words in 30 days. It didn’t take long before more people joined them.
And soon after it was a truly National event, it became an international event, because writers from all over the world joined in this event. They kept the name, but it truly is an international event.

Why Prep?

To NaNoWriMo Prep or not, that’s the question. For me, I’ve found I need some preparation to make sure I’ll be able to complete my NaNoWriMo goal. Even though the story I will be working on, if all goes well, will be a sequel to the story I’ve been working on this past year, I still have a lot to do.  There are things I need to have in my possession to write, not limited to my computer, cause that’s what I’ll be using to write. And there are things I need to keep me going through November, be it food, inspiration or otherwise.

My NaNoWriMo Prep

A few things are important:

  • Writing Stuff
  • Food & Drink (you gotta eat and keep yourself hydrated during this event!)
  • NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

I’m going to keep a checklist here to see how far I’ll get in my preparations.

To do Finished?
Outline 1st draft book I complete  
1st draft book I complete  
Outline 2nd draft book I complete  
Outline for Book II complete  
Outline for Book III complete (preferably)  
Outline for Book IV complete (preferably)  
Outline for Book V complete (preferably)  
Get into daily writing habit  
Finish 30 Day world builder process  
Define names of all main characters  
Finish character interview Ayla  
Finish character interview Dany  
Finish character interview Séamus  
Finish character interview Mícheál  
Finish character interview Ruark  
Finish character interview Ciara  
Finish character interview Aunt 1  
Finish character interview LotV  
Create an Excel histogram with:

  • NaNo Daily Word Count goal
  • Reverse NaNo Word count goal
  • Achieved word count
Make a Meal plan for November  
Pre-cook several things for November for in the Freezer  
Test Aeon Timeline  
Create NaNo Survival kit  
Create world map  
Make/buy a box for the NaNo Survival Kit  
Create Care package (after October 15th) (In the Dutch forum we’re doing care packages this year)  
Update Scrivener (last week of October) (If you use Scrivener, be sure to update it before NaNo starts!!!)  
Optional  (loads of this is already in the back of my head. I just need to put it on my digital paper 🙂 )
Finish history of the Dragon Riders  
Finish history of the Protectors of the Realm  
Finish history of the first True Seers  
Finish the Parabataì history  
Finish the Soulmates basics & history  
Finish Seer Council Description  
Finish Dragon Riders Council description  
Create timeline based on outline (adjustable during writing)  

Make a start with the story’s languages:

  • Seers: Based on Scottish Gaelic (maybe mixed with some Latin)
  • Dragon Riders: Based on Irish Gaelic (maybe mixed with some Latin)
  • Common Tongue: English
  • Specifically for: Rituals, Names, etc.

Conclusion & Accountability

Yeah, I know. I said I would report my daily word count and I didn’t. That was not good. Luckily I have been writing, but it was mostly world building and some small scenes for later books.

Now that it’s almost October, I’ve decided to allocate several hours a day for my NaNoWriMo Prep. And as you can see in the list above this also means writing.

I’ve got a lot left to do, but I’m confident I can do it. Now that the MyPeakChallenge gathering in Scotland is over and I don’t need to do any preparations for that anymore, I can devote my time to my writing. Now all I need to do is do all the preparations BEFORE I watch any of my favorite television series.

Leading up to November 1st, I will record my progress on my preparations here. Let’s see how far I can get before the writing frenzy starts! Are you with me?

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how do you prepare? Are you a planner or a pantser or perhaps something in between? What are you favorite writing tools? What are the things you absolutely can NOT do without during NaNoWriMo? Leave a comment below!

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Deadline: August 31st

Deadline coming into reach

After a month of CampNaNoWriMo in which I wrote way too little to finish The Infinity Saga, I decided I needed to think about deadlines. Originally my deadline for the first draft was “This year.” Well, that’s pretty broad, isn’t it?

Enter “The Deadline”

Deadline HourglassAt the beginning of this year, as part of MyPeakChallenge, I decided I wanted to finish my first draft “This year”. Well, “this year” turns out to be broad. Too broad to be specific.

Now that CampNaNoWriMo is over, I looked at the progress I made. I had started Camp with the idea that I would work on World Building and perhaps write a few additional chapters.

It turns out I wrote 10,000 words. It was mainly the story and additionally some world building and some additions to my outline.
This, of course, is progress, but not as much as I hoped for.

Camp is a rather free thing, unlike NaNoWriMo where the goal has been set for you. In Camp you set your own goal. And I think I made mine too easy. I gave myself too much freedom. Instead of a lot of writing, I’ve been distracted. Granted, it gave me some new ideas, but it didn’t progress my story just yet. That is why I decided, today, that I need a firm deadline. At least something that feels like a firm deadline to me.

The new deadline


My new deadline is August 31st. It’s my birthday. And what better way to celebrate my birthday than to have the first draft of my story finished? It would be amazing to have it finished! I’ll just need to remind myself that the first draft doesn’t need to be perfect. Your first draft is messy, incomplete, might not be completely functional, but it is there.

I already have ideas on how to improve everything I’ve written so far (besides the obvious: I need loads of fantasy names!), but I’m sticking to finishing my first draft first.

Daily Word count Goal

Word Count Goals
Source: Literature & Latte

And with that deadline comes a daily word count goal. The average fantasy story has about 100,000 – 125,000 words (give or take a few thousand). To make sure I’ll make that and have something extra to work with, I’ve set my daily word count goal to 2,000 words (give or take a few hundred).


To help me achieve my goal, I’ve decided to keep a writing record here on a daily basis from now on. I hope it will work for me.

So, today I wrote 1,990 words. Finished one particular tough scene, added another and I might have to include yet another scene before this chapter is finished. But that’s okay. I’m getting there!