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Hi, I'm Christy. I'm an author currently working on my debut novel. I'm also a wife, a techie, and a film buff. On my channel I talk about all things storytelling, great books, and what I've learned on my writing journey.

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Preptober for NaNoWriMo 2019: Planning Essentials

by Christy Shuler Sep 30 2019

This is a companion post that I created to share the resources I discussed in my NaNoWriMo Prep Checklist video on my YouTube channel. If you haven't seen the video, I have it embedded below. 

Preptober is finally upon us! Well, maybe not officially, but I couldn't bring myself to wait another day to share all of my planning and resources in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2019.

If you're unaware, NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, is the one month a year where writers all the over world challenge themselves to complete a finished rough draft of a new novel within 30 days. October, also referred to as Preptober, is the month of preparations before the event, where writers decide their story idea and flesh it out. It's also a great time to get your personal scheduled squared away so you can plan for maximum efficiency throughout November.

This is my first year to participate, outside of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I am beyond excited to let a new spark of an idea come to life this month as I prepare my outline. In the video below, I share all of my planning techniques and schedule throughout Preptober that I am hoping will prepare me for success as I begin drafting in November.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products.

Pre-Planning & Plotting Resources

Preptober Schedule by Eva Deverell - When I decided to use this month for NaNoWriMo prep, this was my first stop. This schedule has a ton of ideas to help you start filling in the blanks of your story idea. From practical planning tips like choosing a story idea and selecting the genre, to game-like activities like asking a friend for a date, this schedule also has plenty of blank spots to get you brainstorming.

Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White - Sometimes we just need an outside source for generating a fresh, new idea. If you find yourself getting stuck on your story idea or conflicts within your plot, you may find this book helpful. Broken down into categories for different story types, it offers ten unique situations for each story type. You may be surprised what ideas may spark from one of them. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Plot Formulas Cheatsheet by Eva Deverell - When you're ready to begin structuring your story idea, you may want to refer to a plot formula to make sure you have all of the necessary elements for pacing and conflict. Personally, I had no idea there were so many types of plot formulas! If you're looking for something different, I highly recommend this cheatsheet by Eva Deverell. If you have time, definitely browse around the website for a ton of other helpful writing worksheets.

Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody - This is the plot formula that I will be using as I outline for my rough draft. What I love about Jessica Brody's book is her easy to use beat sheet. While perhaps not revolutionary in terms of story structure, this beat sheet is written and explained in a straight-forward way that doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation, which is great for someone like me who LOVES structure and organization. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell - This is another excellent read when it comes to story structure. I have learned so much from this book in terms of scene structure, story conflict, motivation and stakes. Even if you're using a different plot formula to outline your novel, I highly recommend still picking this one up as it answers a slew of other structural questions you may have as you're drafting. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Synopsis Template by Susan Dennard - This template is something I used recently as I am preparing to query my current novel and I found it very self-explanatory. But in my pre-planning for Preptober, I decided that writing the synopsis was something I wanted to do this time before the rough draft to give me a better sense of the overall story I am telling. I'm hoping this strategy works as a high-level road map for days that I may begin to feel lost. Susan is an extreme plotter, so if you're looking for more worksheets to help you get organized, definitely take a look around on her website.

At-Home Worksheet: Idea to Novel in 31 Days - This is a blog series I just recently stumbled upon. If you're looking for a detailed, step-by-step process on cultivating your story idea into a finished outline, you may want to check out this series by Janice Hardy.

Books on NaNoWriMo

If you can't already tell, I have a huge advocate of books on writing. While I haven't read all of the following, I did want to share this lists of books that were tailored to writing a novel within the confines of NaNoWriMo which could offer some unique advice on both practical and mental tips and tricks to help you reach your goals. No Plot, No Problem is the one I am currently reading and so far I'm finding a lot of helpful advice that is tailored specifically to the concept of writing for NaNoWriMo.

  • No Plot, No Problem: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty - Find it here
  • Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander - Find it here
  • Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do Next by Jeff Gerke - Find it here


While Preptober may be about plotting your novel, I couldn't end this blog post without sharing some practical life hacks as we prepare to enter into the insane quest that is NaNoWriMo. I don't know about you, but some of my most time-consuming chores lie in meal prep and cooking. So I figured I could share some of the methods I have found effective in cutting time and effort out of these tasks. 
  • Grocery Order Pickup - My husband and I mainly do this at Walmart, but I find a lot of grocery stores following their lead, so you may have a local store in your area that does this as well. Being able to order my groceries on the app, schedule a time that is convenient for me, and then pick them up without having to get out of my car has been a huge game-changer in terms of my hectic weekend schedule. 
  • Amazon Delivery - Depending on what services are available in your area, you may be able to cut driving out of the equation all together and get your groceries delivered straight to your door! 
  • Meal Kit Delivery Services - I know we've all seen them by now, the abundance of companies sponsoring our favorite bloggers and YouTubers (I'm not one of them, but boy, do I wish). If you're someone who struggles to come up with meal ideas, or you have a specific diet that requires extra time for planning specific ones, you could consider letting one of these companies such as Hello, Fresh or Blue Apron do the work for you. 
  • Batch Meal Prep & Freezing -Whenever possible, my husband and I definitely utilize this technique to prep our meals for the upcoming week. Taking one day out of the weekend to cook all your meals for the upcoming week will save you hours of precious time that you'll need for writing your novel. I won't reinvent the wheel by going into detail here, but there are plenty of resources on both YouTube and Pinterest when it comes to batch meal prep ideas so I definitely recommend taking some time during Preptober to do a bit of research and find some meal ideas that fit your lifestyle. 
Thank you so much reading. If you're participating in Preptober and NaNoWriMo 2019 I wish you the best of luck! If you have any planning or preparation activities that are different from mine, let me know about them in the comments!

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