Imminent NaNoMongering: The November Arsenal

My battlemongering muse is laying by a stockpile of weaponry for the eternally raging war against the forces of Plot Tramplers. Sources deep within the November front report that our gremlins are plotting to force back the Writer's Block. The minions persist in their hourly application of literary acid to the fractures in the crystal plot bunny matrix. Already, the wound deepens. Drops of amber-stained ichor speckle my hands. The story world bleeds, but softly.

Come NaNo, it is to be hoped that the floodgates will at last open.

...Okay, enough with the purple prose. NaNoWriMo begins in three days (not including today), and I'm scrambling to assemble my arsenal before the 1st.

  • No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
    • A November tradition, this little gem is the perfect NaNo motivator! 
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
    • I don't want to restate what others have said better, so I'll just say that this is one of the best non-fiction books ever. There were three points which struck me in particular. It's like Stephen King reached directly into my head, saw the problems I was having, and responded.
      • Writing a story is like excavating a fossil. 
      • Plot is secondary: start with a sticky situation from which the characters must escape, and watch the evolution of their struggles to escape. 
      • Write every day. Write the first draft with the door closed. Write the second with the door open.
    • I make it sound awfully dry. It's not. Go read it! 
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
    • A handy little booklet that condenses a lot of the stylistic mistakes that occur in weak writing, and offers advice to make one's writing strong and compelling. More useful in editing than first drafts, but I plan to keep these in mind as I write. The examples presented therein are a bit dated, but the advice is timeless. 
  • How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid them -- A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide
    • I haven't read this yet, but I've heard that it's good.
  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
    • Ditto - I haven't read it yet, but the fact that it's written by one of my favorite writers means I've GOT to read this.

Software Tools: 
  • Scrivener
    • I love the versatility. I can write directly in it, manage separate notes, reorder, write in full view, and import all my notes and non-text resources into the same place. 
  • Notepad/Plain Text Editor
    • Because sometimes I just have to vomit and then have at it with an axe, before I import the mess into Scrivener. Also useful on my tablet and phone for editing my Scrivener project on the go.
  • Write or Die
    • I don't use this often. As my writing speed increases, so does the execrability of the prose produced. Beyond a certain threshold, it just isn't worth it, as I'm trying to produce something that I can actually edit without wanting to go back in time and strangle my past self. If I can catch an easily preventable issue now, I'd rather fix it now, so that the final result makes some sort of sense. However, this tool is very useful for free writing, when I'm trapped in the Writer's Block. 
  • Dropbox
    • I use Dropbox to synchronize my projects, so I can seamlessly switch devices with no problem. Scrivener is synchronized with an external folder on Dropbox, so I can edit in plain text on my iPad.
  • MindNode
    • Mind mapping. 

  • Loose Paper 
    • Usually one-side-printed printer paper, or other loose unused paper. Useful for raw plotting, outlining, brainstorming, and sketching, before I put the mostly final product into Scrivener or MindNode.
  • Post-It Notes
    • For when the muse sends a bunny to nibble me.
  • Notebook
    • For "serious" writing. Even the electric hydra likes to unplug sometimes. 
  • Colored pens/pencils
    • I like writing in weird colors, if only to traumatize the eyeballs of those who dare peek at my notes. (Face it, no one wants to see my notes. XD)
  • Favorite pen and pencil
    • Because it just doesn't smell right if the ink is wrong. 

  • Synopsis
    • In progress. This helps me keep conflict in the forefront. 
  • Magna Carta Lists
    • Mentioned in NPNP, these are two lists: the things I most enjoy in stories, and the things I most detest in stories. The idea is that you make your story compelling by including things from the first list and avoiding the things in the second.
  • Stepping Art
    • Art that helps me step easily into the world. In this case, my two covers, and hopefully a third that someone else is making for me.
  • This quote, which I need to print and put up on my wall:
    • "Once I start work on a project, I don't stop and I don't slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don't write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind–they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale's narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story's plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something new begins to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death. Writing is at its best–always, always, always–when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. I can write in cold blood if I have to, but I like it best when it's fresh and almost too hot to handle."

      -Excerpt from On Writing by Stephen King

  • Twitter
    • For someone who's plugged in all the time, I sure am horrible at grasping how to use Twitter. Still, I do surface now and then, to procrastinate. 
  • Sweet Tea
    • Because sweet tea.
  • Coffee
    • Made in milk. No sugar. Mmmm, coffee. 
  • A blanket with sleeves and sock...compartments.
    • Winter is coming. I don't like sweaters and socks. Blankets are soft and cuddly. That I live in Florida slightly mars the applicability of the ASOIAF reference...and the blanket, for that matter.
  • Sleep deprivation.
    • Also known as muse bait.
  • Music. 
    • As necessary to inspiration as breathing. I like listening to metal while writing. 

Seeing this list before me now, I never realized just how long it is. Usually I only use a few of these things commonly, in the 'best' case, with the others coming into occasional use when I enter the 'worst' or 'nuclear meltdown' case. Then again, over the course of two years, one is bound to slowly accumulate baggage in the arsenal. 

Right. Time to stop procrastinating and either go work on my synopsis, or write.

Photos from stockvault.com. Images linked here are not intended to promote any product or service.


  1. Coming up on my eighth NaNoWriMo-type event (ninth novel), my list includes:
    'No Plot? No Problem?' (though I've pretty much got it memorised already)
    Pages (I'd use Scrivener but then I'd waste all my time moving scenes around instead of actually writing them)
    Pink USB drive for backups
    Little note-binder
    Black pen (it MUST be black)
    Blog/Facebook/email for procrastination
    Alphasmart NEO
    Blankets (because it's Canada here)
    And music. For pretty much the same reasons you mentioned, plus I use it to structure my writing time. There's this one Internet radio station I really enjoy, otherwise it's usually eighties rock. Because I'm a nerd.
    And for my birthday a while back, a friend bought me a whole boxful of tea, so I'm planning on using that (if I can remember where I put it...).
    Good luck! (Three more days!)

  2. Sweet! Yes, 80s music is awesome. :-) And I totally agree with you about the necessity of tea!