#Preptober 2017: How to Kill NaNo in October Using Your Writers Bullet Journal


Are you ready to kick NaNoWriMo’s ass? I sure am! And I’ve got the tools you need to make it happen! And the secret formula is to get it laid out as much as possible a month before in your bullet journal!

You ready? Let’s get it done. 

Step 1- The Plan

This month, I have to get my new manuscript   ready for the hard core writing. So, I have to put aside last years project. I’m still adding to last years 50,000 words, but it’s time to do something new for this year.

Its perfectly fine to write on top of words that you’ve written in previous NaNo years, however, I have another idea for a novel that I need to get out of my head. So I might as well get another first draft in the can.  So, during this month I’m going to be planning for that novel for NaNo.

However, I need to get my Steampunk novel DONE and out the door before the end of the year. So, I have to edit, as well. The editing will go off to the side during November, of course, but October and December and probably January will need to be focused on editing.  

Step 2- The Monthly  

My monthly Set Up doesn’t vary at all for this month. It stays the same to keep my brain as centered as possible. However this month, I’m not putting my word count tracker in. 

Well, I wouldn’t have if I’d remembered it. But I did anyway. It’ll be nice to have if I do work on the manuscript during the month.  

I’ll also add a checklist for NaNo to this month, making sure I have a grocery list for the month of NaNo and the husband knows my reward system and can be my accountability partner for that.  

Step 3- The Title and Plot

Titles are hard. Really hard. So it’s okay to not have one until the rest of your novel is ready to go. Your title will probably change all the way through the process, even the publishing process. So come up with something you can remember and that words for you and move on. Work on that later and don’t get too attached to it. 

The plot is a different matter. It’s a little more important to have that, you know, ironed out a bit. 

Plots can come from ANYWHERE. They can be world driven, character driven, idea driven, or millieu driven.  

World driven plots are more centered around big events altering the characters. Things like apocalypse stories and utopias are like this.  

Character driven plots are what they say on the tin: driven by characters. Literary fiction and short fiction often follows this model and it worlds very well. We get attached to the character and not the world. This makes, for many readers, a more impactful story.  

Idea driven stories also do what they say in the box. If you have a big idea in your story, like vampire meets fairies or unicorns who like machine guns; that’s your big idea and what will drive your story.

Mullieu simply means the setting. So if your world is set up to have super long winters (cough, cough) or it takes place in a space station and that’s what drives the story, that’s a millieu story.

I know this is VERY simplified, but I don’t want to get too deep into story structure in this post. That can happen later.

However, I’m from the school of thought that has all four of these on a slider. If you have one, a more dynamic story will have all three and make sure the balance is just right. Just like balancing a mixer for a Podcast Your your listeners ears don’t blow out.

Figure out what you want to do with your story and play with these categories a bit and then make sure you tinker just a little more. Find a good balance.  

My story is a zombie apocalypse, in a tunnel city, with Cyberpunk, and demons, too. I won’t get into all my sliders there, but you can see that I’ve been playing with all four! Millieu- tunnel city. Character- three girls, all sisters, all badass. World- Cyberpunk. Idea-  Zombie apocalypse with demons. 


Now, getting thisbinto my journal is hard. But the first thing I need to do is write it down into a synopsis. Then I can work from there. So, I’ve set up a one page spread for it.

Step 4- The Characters  

As I’ve mentioned, I have three sister characters. A hacker and two engineers. I also have two male characters, best friends. While they are going to be love interests for the girls, be girls still have t be strong. They have to be cool independent from their male counterparts.

You would think this shouldn’t be hard. I know that I lead a very independent life from my husband, even though we work well together and have two kids. But we do lead separate lives.

Them why is it so hard for authors to write them?

I need five character layouts for my characters. I won’t need one for my antagonist, that I can think of, now. The antagonist is actually their circumstances. Which is a thing. Trust me. 

Step 5- The World

My world is SUPER fun for this one; it’s actually my Steampunk novel, hundreds of years in the future. The city is laid out the same, it’s just buried underground instead of a tower city!

I have a ton of writing prompts for fleshing out a diverse and well thought out world of your own. But the trick is to do it quickly and make sure your world works for the book you are writing. You don’t have 20 years to do it, like Tolkien did! That amount of world building would be too extensive!  

Often, writers use wolrdbuilding as an excuse to not write. This is a load of crap. Build what you need and then make it up as you go along. If you’re world building for 20 years, you’ve wasted time. You are not Tolkien. Get over it.  Write it and move on.

Plus, your bullet journal just can’t take that kind of information. Write down the cool facts about your world there and then move along. 

Step 6- The Outline

This is the hard part for me. I’m a pantser, not a planner. Which makes no sense with my affection for the bullet journal. But it’s never been how I’ve successfully written; I far prefer my characters to tell me the story they want to tell.

However, I still have a vague idea on how I want the story to go, I just don’t want to be held hard and fast to that plan. So I minimize it as much as possible. 

My first step is to take my summary and expand on it. Essentially, I tell my story like a five year old boy telling you about his favorite movie. Nothing needs to be chronological or tidy, it just has to get out of your head. There are no scenes or dialogue, just the plot breakdown.  

Next, I take that and turn it into a billeted list of plot points I want to hit. Those are ordered how I want my book to happen, and then I have my “outline”. All I have to do is aim for those events and the rest can fall into place as I write.  

This is really easy to do in a bullet Journal, especially because it isn’t super detailed. I’m just writing down markers to aim for, now scene my scene instructions on my plot. This shouldn’t take more than two pages in a bullet journal. 

Step 7- The Settings

Even though I’m not going to be writer a super detailed outline, I do have some ideas on cool locations, even with my landmark style outline. So, I’ll make a list of all the places hangs need to happen. And I’ll add to that list a few settings that are really cool, but don’t have a scene or event to happen in them, yet  

Then, I take my setting worksheet and start crafting each setting with the new questions inside. This forces me to deeply evaluate each sttting, so when I go to write it, I can do the images in my head justice.

Step 8- The Reward

The reward portion of this is pretty important to me. It keeps me motivated  and on the right track. I always encourage motivation through reward as a way to make new habits!

In my printable, I have badges for a reward! But you can use whatever you find awesome! Chocolate, coffee, booze, cookies... but it’s so close to Halloween, it’ll probably be the trick-or-treating candy you just bought. 😉

There you have it! This is how I’m gettjng through Preptober this year! I encourage you to participate and show me how you’re doing on Instagram and Twitter! I’d love to be your cheerleader! 

I’ll see you next week! 

-The Ginger Wordsmith  🐙