Welcome to the NaNo Materials forum...

Well, given my general malaise and incredible powers for procrastination when it comes to writing, I finally decided I would do NaNoWriMo this year. Accordingly, I’ve created a forum here for Scrivener forum users who want to chat about NaNo here rather than, or in addition to, over at the NaNoWriMo forums. I believe there is a fair number of Scrivener users who do NaNoWriMo, given that Scrivener Gold was initially declared as a beta on the NaNo Technology forum over at the NaNoWriMo site, so all initial users were NaNo-ers.

I’d love to hear how others go about preparing for November. I read Chris Baty’s book not long ago, though it wasn’t quite as illuminating as I had hoped. The theory that everyone just needs a deadline always makes me think of Douglas Adams’ quip that he loved the sound of deadlines flying over his head…

All the best,

Keith, for all the help you gave to NaNoWriMo writers, I think you really deserve to win it. Ok, so in November we will not ask for new features. Promised.

All the best,

Um, preparing? I hadn’t thought of preparing for it! Food for thought. Maybe I should try again this year, using one of my dusty, long-abandoned synopses that never get any further than an outline. (In my self-deluding alternative universe, a book is actually finished when I know what is going to happen, even if I just dreamt it and haven’t written so much as a single chapter. Writing an outline seems to be fatal to my literary motivation.)

I have signed up for NaNoWriMo three times. One year, I actually wrote something - but only 11,000 words. I had to stop when my characters went haywire and started fighting viciously on every page, and I found I was writing stuff that I wouldn’t dream of reading, and that verged on being stomach-churning… very disturbing… I hope it was NanNoWriMo-imposed lack of sleep causing the problem, and not some sort of deep-seated and hitherto unsuspected psychopathy. :confused:

I had a lot of fun doing Nano. It can be quite a system shock for somebody who doesn’t write a lot, though. I did it three years. The first time I got sick at the end of the second week, and by the time I recovered I was woefully behind and never finished. Second year, I won right on schedule, and the third year I tore through it and finished by the end of the third week. I took the advice of others the first year and didn’t prepare at all. I sat down on November 1 without a single character or plot idea. It was fun that way, but it didn’t produce a very good plot, it was very character driven. Plus, it was a pretty bad rip-off of Dhalgren. :slight_smile:

I did fairly extensive preparation for the second two, and decided to use many of the same characters from the first attempt, but with a new plot. Then November was merely a task of fleshing out the details in words. I didn’t go so far as outlining, like Siren, that has never done anything for my motivation. I had a basic idea of what was going to happen and why, but not so much of an idea of how. I felt much more at ease doing this, but there are plenty who swear by no preparation. For the third year, I tried something interesting. I used Tarot cards to construct the entire plot. Since Tarot is pretty subjective and narrative all by itself, it gave me a framework to build on, without being too rigid and idea crushing like an outline is to me. I’m not sure if I’d use Tarot for a non-Nano venture, but it seemed the perfect mix for that event.

I think the one thing that nearly everyone needs to prepare for is an entire month of nearly no spare time, especially if you have to work as well. There was one year when both my roommate and I did it, and the place ended up looking like a crack house by the end of the month! :wink:

Ditto deadlines. They never do anything for me. I never read Baty’s book because I subscribed to his weekly encouragement newsletter once, and it all struck me being a bit over the top and melodramatic. More humour and less advice. I figured the book would just be more of the same.

2005 was the last year I did Nano. I felt that I had proven to myself that I could put out quantities of words on demand. I wasn’t ever completely satisfied with the quality of what I put out, but then, I hardly ever am. In the past two years, I’ve salvaged everything from those three attempts and put them into a new work that is still in progress. There is a staggering amount of Stuff that I generated in those three years. Most of the actual narrative had to be rewritten, but a lot of innovated methodology and narrative concepts which, in my opinion, are of much more value than the text in this case. Seeing as how I made most of that stuff in the months preceding Nano, that is why I chose to drop it and work more conventionally from that point forward.

I wouldn’t go back and change the fact that I did it though. It was great fun; I learned a lot. I was always procastinating about writing, too, and I think it is a good medcine for that. I’ve become much more motivated about writing since doing Nano. Not because I feel like I wrote a good book or two (I didn’t), but because I proved to myself that I can write—I just have to do it. Nano was more about throwing away the normal life for a month and putting every fibre of my being into writing. For that purpose, it was a joy. Win or lose.

I do minimal preparation, but I do some. I don’t like starting too much in advance though. One week ahead is about as far ahead as I like to think about the actual story.

The first year, I actually decided to do NaNo at about 8PM Oct 31. I spent most of Nov 1 brainstorming using a 300-word prompted exercise I’d done earlier as a jumping-off point, then started writing on the 2nd. Midway through the month I took another brainstorm day, and finished pretty much on schedule. (Note that while you can’t use anything previously written in your NaNo, you can use something previously written as an idea source.)

The second time I won, I think I did a bit of loose planning about the story, and again took a brainstorm day partway through.

I have found that I can’t really plan the story without knowing the characters, and I don’t know the characters until I start writing, so I like to start with a bit of randomness, let the characters wander around for a couple of days while I figure out who they are, then figure out what sort of story would fit them. Last year (my third win) I got enough about the characters by the end of the third day’s writing and the story started to get on track. Or rather, found the track it should be on…

So my beginnings need more editing because I don’t yet know what’s going on, but I figure it out. Taking a pause when you’re stuck to think through where you’re going has been helpful to me, so the characters don’t just run around in circles as you build words. I never really saw the point in writing something I didn’t at least think I might want to read later.

I’ve also been setting goals for myself over and above the 50,000 words - once I knew I can reach that, that is. My first year, my only goals were 50,000 words and a finished story. (I.e., no “I’m at 75,000 words, it’s the end of November, and my ending is nowhere in sight!!!” - something seen on the NaNo forums far too often.) My second win, I was playing with a different story format, doing fixed-length episodes. Time to figure out my next goal. 50,000 words, a finished story, and … :slight_smile:

Oh, and make sure your family understands and supports what you’re doing. The only reason I managed last year is because my husband agreed to do the cooking and cleaning, a job normally shared - I could get home from work and get an hour of writing in before dinner, instead of spending most of that hour making dinner.

For the past two years, I’ve watched and followed NaNoWriMo without diving in. Afraid of . . . what? This year I am diving in. I have a novel stuck stuck stuck on Chapter Ten, and I’m going to sit down on November 1st and proceed with Chapter Eleven. Is that cheating? No. I need a kick-start! I need a firm date. I need a deadline, dammit.

I discovered Scrivener on the NaNo forums. At first I thought, this isn’t for me; what I need is a lovely word processing program for my new Mac. Then I got Pages, and fiddled around with that, and then I realized what Scrivener really was, bought it, and moved my novel into here, where it resides in all its nascent gory.

I wrote two more chapters in Scrivener – I think of it as my friend Scriv, by the way – then I got a rather large writing and editing project (nonfiction) which worked beautifully in this program – but it is almost done and I must return to the wonderful novel I have in my head.

Well from the purist viewpoint, it is cheating. Technically it is supposed to be “a novel in a month,” and some even go so far as to say that if you do not finish a novel by November’s end, it doesn’t count either. However, I’ve always said to hell with the purists. The spirit of the month is about writing. To some that might mean actually doing what they’ve never had the guts or will to do before, writing a book at all. To others it might be getting past a block that is killing a book. I say, if it gets you writing 50,000 words in a month, go for it! The word counter at the end doesn’t care, in fact they even encourage you to “encrypt” the text by swapping out random letters, if you worry about somebody stealing your text. So a lot of people don’t even send what they actually wrote, just a file with the same number of words as what they wrote.

That’s how I look at it, just get the words down. And perhaps I should title this book “Nascent Gory”? Hmmm… :astonished:

I’m not starting from scratch either. But I am zero-ing my word count (I only have about 5,000 words right now anyway, so that’s no big deal) and I’m going to be working through all these other characters and time periods wholly separate from what I’ve done before. (this is a time-traveler novel)

My novelist friends have all told me to go for it, that it’ll really build my confidence as a writer, and make me realize what I really can do.

I’m totally excited, and tempted to learn Dvorak really quickly. I type about 65 wpm with QWERTY but Dvorak is really supposed to help prevent RSI issues (the one thing my famous novelist friend told me to watch out for in NaNoWriMo)

Now I’m finally learning how to really use Scrivener. Last week I learned SuperNoteCard and this week seem to have realized that Scrivener can do all of that and more. (if only I could import. Oh well, it’s not that much typing). It worked like this: on the commute to work, i sketched out a story on the binder-clip-full of notecards that I keep in my backpack. When I got to the office I typed them up in SuperNoteCard and started bridging.
By the end of the day, I was copying-and-pasting the SNC cards back into Scrivener. I’m still only at about a thousand words, but it’s really working as a crash course in scrivener. (I know I’ve looked at the tutorial before, but this is the first time I’ve ever gotten past Step Five.)

From what I remember of SNC (it has been a while since I used it) it has a fairly powerful export feature—to RTF, which Scrivener handles superbly. You should be able to get all of your stuff into Scrivener with no problems. Granted, for the sake of word count, you might want to keep the imported material outside of the Draft area during November, or tick the little “Include in Draft” box in the Inspector to off, for all of the imported files. Then you can selectively choose to not count the SNC files.

Gosh, Amber, that’s so hard!

It prob’ly took me a full two minutes to export/import and make the new cards and synopses!


thanks for pointing out where I should have started

Procrastination excuses, anyone?

Me to my most important client: In November, please don’t count on me for urgent tasks. I will be involved in a very important project.

Today, my second most important client to me: We have a series of urgent works! Please don’t say No!

I didn’t say No. Am I a weak man? Would you girls date such a powerless human type?

Maybe before November I can learn how to take my right hand on one computer’s keyboard, the other on a different one…

Paolo, the Unwilling

Yay! And good luck in November.

Crash course in Scrivener for Nano:

  1. Click on Draft
  2. Press to make a new document
  3. Name it “Day 1”
  4. Press Cmd-Opt-F
  5. Type…
  6. Sleep (Optional step)
  7. Repeat.
    The rest can be learned as you go. :wink:

And ptram, send your clients Nano chapters, but don’t tell that that is what you are doing!

Or, I could write about a technical translator during his effort to catch up after his novel and everyday job…



We could write in tandem. I earn a large part of my money as technical translator and writer, too.

Greetings from Munich, Franz

We set up various info/feedback systems when my partner first did wrimo, and found that the single most productive/motivating helper was an up-to-the-minute surplus/deficit word counter. [Yes, she won that year.] She will be doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and I have set up the counter as a standalone application.

Anyone here who is interested in a copy is welcome to it. It is described and linked below.

“Nag” provides a floating up-to-the-minute word surplus/deficit counter. Designed to provide what we have found to be the single most motivating statistic for use during NaNoWriMo. • Bring the app to the front to report your word counts during the month. When the app is in the background, the small, transparent floater window gives you a live count of how many words ahead or behind you are at that minute.

The floater can be made more or less transparent and is self-hiding, so it is never in the way of your work or your mouse. [It also looks very sweet floating in a corner of your Scriv full screen mode.]


[[color=red]Edit: Nag has been updated to fix an anomaly that appeared with word goals in the hundreds-of-thousands. If you did not encounter this bug, hey, you are not being ambitious enough! :wink: The first-posted version also had a little, uh, adding problem. :blush: ]

No fancy instructions are included, but I think it should be very self-explanatory.


P.S. Good luck on the nano, Keith!

I’m doing NaNo for first time this year. I feel very much prepared now that I’ve been using Scrivener for a few months. I have been outlining and using the “snowflake method” to plan my novel. Right now I’m doing my character synopses, and adding some pictures and other notes in the sidebars. I just know that this is going to help me stay focused and keep the inspiration coming during November.

Thanks for posting the Nag application. I know how much nagging works, it’s the best motivator for sure!

Good luck with NaNo everyone!!

Yes, a deadline at the end of the month is not enough. Continuous deadlining, that’s the ticket!


Exactly. While writing a novel, I always have what I call a “working calendar” besides me: A sheet with the weeks and months I intend to use for the writing, with every little milestone marked (in green): [color=green]“Chapter 12 ready 15th June” etc., everything’s calculated from the outline in advance. So, I always have a next step to achieve, close and not too large a chunk. I note when I in fact have achieved it (in red): [color=red]“Chapter 12” on 13th June means, I can relax, on 17th June it means I have to work a bit harder. (I leave the sundays off from the calculation as a buffer for delays.)

Syntheticore (and anyone else who downloaded the Nag app),

I have posted an update to the Nag program. Fixing two bugs: i) a problem with goals over 99,999 words (oh, you did not notice?), and, more embarrassingly, ii) a bug in addition.*


The nagging is working well for both me and my partner. So effectively, in fact, she worries (again this year) about how her word count surplus ticks away all during the night as she sleeps. This inspires (drives?) her to get far enough ahead before turning in so that she does not wake to a deficit in the morning!


  • Not really an addition problem, but it would appear that way to the user. The underlying problem was one of typing which resulted in a confusion between the numertical comparison operator ‘<’ and the string comparision operator ‘<’.]