Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My NaNoWriMo Prep & Planning: 2016

NaNoWriMo is finally upon us, and I am SO. EXCITED.

I've gone all out with my planning this year- planning specific writing times each day, making goals, planning rewards, making playlists, and creating writing triggers. And, since I've been doing so much planning, I figured I'd go ahead and share some of my plans with y'all. I don't know how useful this will be, given that I haven't even started NaNoWriMo yet, let alone won. But, here it is anyway.

I guess the best way to start is by talking a bit about my history with NaNoWriMo and my current project. So, my first year of doing NaNoWriMo was 2 years ago in 2014. That year, I worked on a novel that I've been working on for several years and I got 23,000 words before eventually giving up. I then attempted to do Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2015 and July 2016, working on that same novel, giving up both times after about a week and a half. So essentially, I have been a complete failure at NaNoWriMo every single time I've tried to do it. But this time, I want to be successful. Hence all of the planning. 

This time, I'm going to be working on a completely different story. It's not a new story, but it's one that I haven't touched in several years. I already had a pretty detailed outline written for this story, so I was fortunate enough that I didn't have to do much prep in that area. I do have a full video on the topic so I'll keep this description brief and leave it to video-Kristen to give you the more in-depth details if you're curious. Essentially, this story started out as a Jonas Brothers fanfiction back when I was obsessed with them. Over the years, I've replaced them with a fictional boy band, but the story still totally reads as a very cliche, dramatic Quizilla-esque fanfic. Despite recognizing that I can't really do anything with this story, I love this really ridiculous aspect to it and am really excited about it. Further explanations can be found in the video.

Goals & Rewards

So, I'm going to be basing my daily goals off of the typical NaNoWriMo goals. I'll be trying to write the full 50,000 words, so my daily goal is 1,667 words. I've set up both a planner and a tracker in my bullet journal to keep track of the times I plan to write and my daily/total word count goals. I have a schedule that varies from day-to-day, so I have certain hours specified for writing for each day of the week. For each day, I've scheduled 2 hours of writing time, divided into 1 hour blocks. As you can see in the below picture, there are some times I tried to keep constant, but there are some days when times need to be shifted. I've also added in the possibility of extra writing time, but as long as I focus and reach my hourly goals, I shouldn't need the extra time. In fact, I don't expect to need both full hours every day if I'm really focused. 
On the left are the times I intend to write each day, and on the right is my tracker, where I have daily & overall goals and where I will fill in my actual word count each day.

So now on to the rewards for meeting my goals. I've come up with many different goals to keep myself on track. I have goals/rewards for each hour writing, for reaching my daily goal, and for winning NaNoWriMo. I think these are super helpful to get you through even the days where you don't feel like writing. So I'll lay those out for you as well as why I chose those specific goals.

Overall Goal: Write 50K words & WIN NANOWRIMO!
Reward: PlayStation 4

This is something I've saved for for quite a while, but I'm only up to 2/3 of the price. If I win NaNoWriMo, I'm going to go ahead and splurge for it because I've wanted it for so long. Your reward certainly doesn't have to be so big, but it should be something that will really motivate you to succeed.

Now on to daily and hourly rewards. The big thing for these is that you don't want to choose something that would be overwhelming if you reach your goal every single day. For example, do you really want your daily reward to be Starbucks every day if you have to pay for Starbucks every day? To combat that, I'm using a point system for my hourly and daily goals. Essentially, there will be points attached to each goal that will add up in order for me to "buy" rewards. That way, I reward myself, but I don't have to spend a lot of money on the same things day after day. I don't necessarily know that this will work for everyone, but I think this will be a good method for me. 

Daily Goal: Write 1,667 words
Reward: 5 points

Hourly Goal (for each scheduled writing time): Write 850 words
Reward: 1 point

I made my goal per hour 850 words because that evenly divides my 1667 words between my 2 hour chunks. However, when I do sit down to write for a solid hour, I find that I write somewhere around 1200 words or more, so I have a feeling that it won't take me a full 2 hours each day to get my words, but it will probably give me a chance to get ahead for those days when I inevitably don't feel like writing. 

As far as the points, essentially it's possible for me to earn up to 49 points per week. Honestly, if I get 49 points in one week, I'll give myself a bonus 1 point reward because A- I'd be totally SLAYING NaNoWriMo, and B-50 is such a nice round number. I do have rewards set up at specific point values. For example, buying a new book of my choice is 35 points. So if I meet my daily goal every single day for a week (even excluding hourly goals!), I could purchase a new book if I so desired. But there are also slightly smaller rewards, such as ordering non-fast food takeout for 25 points. 

NaNoWriMo Playlist!

This is the first time I've ever put together a playlist specifically for a project that I'm working on. There have certainly been times when I found myself only listening to certain CDs or artists while writing a story, but I never planned in advance. So, it was incredibly fun to go through my music and compile a list of songs that I feel fit my novel. 

Since I first started this as Jonas Brothers fanfic in jr. high and since it takes place in high school, almost all of the music is stuff that I listened to during that time of my life. Some of it is stuff that specifically fits the tone/plot of my story, while other songs are just there for the mood that they invoke to me-- bringing to mind that specific period of time in my life that I associate with this story. 

Now, before you jump on my case and judge me for some of the music that you find on the playlist (*cough*HannahMontana*cough*), I want to briefly remind you that some of the music on this playlist is not music that I still enjoy and listen to on a daily basis. Very soon, it'll become a staple in my life again because of the mood it invokes, but it's not something I still enjoy. I didn't really want to add some of this music to the playlist but it was way too closely tied to that time in my life and to this specific story for me to not include it.

The playlist is embedded at the beginning of this section for your perusal and listening. I also have a second, smaller playlist. Every song on that playlist comes from this larger playlist, so there's nothing new on there. However, that playlist consists of the 10ish songs that I most closely associate with my story. I'm really excited about these playlists and want to explain exactly why everything was chosen but ya know, spoilers and stuff. And it would take forever to explain all of the 50ish songs on the playlist. But feel free to ask questions and I'll go ahead and link the second, smaller playlist down below this. 

Writing Triggers

Writing triggers are another new thing that I'm going to be trying out this year. I've known for a long time about how certain scents, environments, tastes, etc. can be used as associations for things. For example, if you study for an exam while smelling a certain scent, if you smell that scent again while taking the exam, it can help recall the memories of what you studied. Don't go using this as a way to barely study for an exam and think you're definitely going to do well, but it could be a useful study tool that you can try out and see if it helps with your memory. 

Anyway, my point here is that there are a lot of other things that this can be applied to. For example, if you write at the same place, at the same time every day and light the same candle and drink the same flavor of coffee, it helps to create an entire writing atmosphere and can get you in the mood to write. These type of things are writing triggers-- things that you purposely do while writing to help get you in the mood to write or perhaps even recreate the mood of your novel. Often, these are also things that you only do while writing, so that it forms a habit and association. (I'm not an expert in these psychological matters, but I was a psych minor in my undergrad so hopefully that gives you just the slightest bit of faith in me here). 

Like I said, this is something that's new for me. I typically write kind of wherever I feel like it. Typically, that ends up being my bed. However, for NaNoWriMo, I've decided to try out some writing triggers and see how they work for me. I've decided to do all of my writing at my desk in my room (pictured below). One bad habit that I have is that because I typically do basically everything on my couch or in bed, all of my actual surfaces (dining room table, desk, etc.) have just become places to pile my junk. So I did a total overhaul of my desk and now it's a completely clean area for me to work at. So far, I've sat down for a couple hour-long writing sessions and I've been able to completely focus and get stuff written.

This is also kind of where my playlist comes into play as well. I only listen to this playlist (as well as many of the individual songs) while writing, so that should also help to get me in the mood to write. Also, if I'm especially distracted, I will listen to ASMR videos to get work done, so those also help me to focus on doing work. If you're not familiar with ASMR videos, they are basically just people making sounds for relaxation. Some people think it's weird but I really enjoy them and they help me to focus. I've linked one of my favorites below in case you're curious.

There are a lot of other things that come into play here, like the writing schedule that I showed earlier in the post. Since I already discussed that, I won't get into it too much. I also don't have a specific drink or snack for while writing, simply because I don't like eating while writing, and because I'm using caffeine as more of a reward.. and pretty much all of my drinks are caffeinated. So I guess I'll be drinking some water. Energy drinks will be saved for after writing. 

The other writing trigger that I'm very purposely trying to work into my writing routine is a specific scent for writing. Because of that, I went ahead and got a few candles to try out. I've never been someone who used candles, but I thought it would be a really great time to try them out. I went to Yankee Candle for the first time ever (which was super overwhelming- there are like 150 scents. The sales lady said so). It was really difficult to figure out what I wanted, because I wanted to pick a candle that would fit my story. Since the story is a rather lighthearted story set in the fall, so I wanted to pick a scent that matched both of those things. Something cozy and warm, but sweet. I found 2 there and another at Target that I liked, so I went ahead and got the smallest size of each so that I can try them out and get a larger one once I feel like I can commit to one.
L to R: Autumn Gathering, Cashmere Woods, and Mountain Lodge

So... I think that's about it. I mean, it should be after this giant post. I just really wanted to make sure that I got everything in here, both for myself and for y'all. I'm really excited about NaNoWriMo this year, and I wanted to go all out in order to succeed. Let me know down in the comments what all you did to prepare for NaNoWriMo this year! Did you do lots of outlining and planning, or are you pantsing it this year? Do you have a reward system set up, and if so, what is it? Are there any writing triggers that work for you? Let me know down in the comments! Good luck, everyone! I hope you all have a great NaNoWriMo this year and I hope that you all win!

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