Writing should be fun. My goal is to enjoy writing this month. For my fifth year of Nanowrimo the goal is fun. My advice for anyone doing Nano or writing in general is this. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Writing is an activity to decrease and manage the stress of life. Like all of you I am very busy.

I work in Special Education as a school administrator and my days are long. I wake up at 4:45am every day. I arrive at my office at 6:40.  I meet with students, teachers, and deal with a ton of paperwork.  My evening commute through LA traffic is over an hour. I get home after 6pm. Check in with my wife and son. Most nights I yearn for the couch. 

So NANO is going to be a leisure activity for me. No stakes, no pressure. It should be that way. Writing is a hobby, it is a leisure activity. I am an amateur writer. In the sense that I am not being paid, no one is waiting for my work, I don’t have any contracts. Now to me, that doesn’t mean that I lower my expectations. It doesn’t mean that I just wing it. I write with intensity, passion, and purpose. I use highly structured systems to produce work each day and each week. I can bring that intensity, love, and purpose to a five-minute writing session or an 8-hour writing session. I am going to take the advice of the community liaison for Los Angeles. Her name is Ticklemecolor-  Nano is like Recess.

 I want to take the time to share my systems with everyone. This is how I prep and set myself up for success. I have come to love systems, that catch is I don’t love other people’s systems. I don’t like other people trying to give me a system. Yet for me. I love systems and structure.

The week before Nano is a prep week. Allow me to share with you what I do to prepare for a month of writing. In no particular order.

  1. Create a soundtrack in Spotify- Listen Here.
  2. Create a Nano folder in Google Drive for my daily writing.
  3. Read excerpts from some of my favorite novels to prepare me for the writing.
  4. Make a book cover in Canva to put on the Nano website.
  5. Sign up for local writing events.
  6. Name some of my characters- The formula I use, I think up their age, and then I look at a list of top baby names for the year they were born in.
  7. Start thinking about naming conventions for my daily posts.
  8. Debate what the first song of Nano will be.
  9. Think about plot points.
  10. Buy a Halloween costume.

This year I plan to update my blog with something from my nano writing adventure. We will see how this goes.

In Nanowrimo, you are either a planner or a pantser. A planner works off of an outline. The pantser writes as they go along. I lean heavily towards pantser. This year I am a little of both. I started a sheet to take notes on what the story is going to look like, but most of the time, I just sit down and write. I am a planster. Part plan. Part pants.

I had to make some agreements with myself. I also have some changes to make. My previous Nano’s I was working remotely. It was easy for me to carve out time to write during the day. Now that I am working at a physical location. I need to make some changes to my process.

 Change one. I am going to keep open a google doc, on my work computer, phone, and home computer. This way, I will be able to write as an I go. It will take the stress out of writing. Here are a few of the steps I follow throughout the month to make it to 50,000 words.

 Step One- Who is influencing your writing? As you write, read other novels. It will help you as you write your own work. Also, it is a way to get yourself unstuck. I use hoopla to find books, I am currently a fugitive from my local library.

I dive into novels. So I can get influenced by writers. I read parts of a story each night, and plan to read throughout. Here are the books I read during the first week of Nano prep.

 Monday- Alan Mendelson, the Boy From Mars

 Tuesday- Super Sad True Love Story

 Wednesday- Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.

 Thursday- Going to Meet The Mountain 

Friday- didn’t read

 Saturday- War and Peace 

 Sunday- The Two Towers

Step 2- I have a system for naming my characters. 

After coming home from Trick or Treating, I started to look at some names for characters. My formula for generating names is as follows. I pick the age of the character, then search baby names for that year. So one character is 23, so I look at top baby names for 1996. I do this exercise for each character in the story. Here are three of the main characters. Kayla is 23. The other two characters are from other years.




The night before Nano. I am excited. I created the first doc. Each day I create a new document, and then at the end, I paste them all into one.  

Step 3- Naming conventions and patterns for my writing.

I write in one google doc for each of the 30 days. Then, in the end, I paste them all into one google doc. I do this to avoid getting stuck. The goal for Nano is 1667 words, an SFD. So each day, I name my daily writing after a song. I begin the session with the song, and the last paragraph of the story is wrapped up by referring back to the song.

 Here are the songs I used on the first three days-

           Day One- Ramblin Gamblin Man– Bob Seager

           Day Two- Tom Sawyer -Rush

           Day Three-Take me with you– Prince

I purchased a sketchbook while shopping today. I plan to use it to outline the writing for the day and also to list out the songs for the day.

Step 4- Quirks.

I have little quirks to make my writing fun- For example, I have an hourglass that I use to time some of my writing sessions. I stole this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert. I purchased an hourglass two years ago, and use it throughout Nano when I write from home at my desk.

Step 5- Write in Community.

I had planned on going to a write-in on Saturday, but I was starting to get a cold, so I made the decision to write from home. Fortunately, a member of my Java writing group, launched a Nano slack channel, so now I can work on Nano with friends from my writing group. Very exciting.

Step 6- Pace yourself!

Nano is Thirty Days. Thanksgiving lands right in the middle of it. For me, in the beginning, the goal is not to get behind. 

Step Seven- Get creative and have fun! Each week I post a short piece to my blog. This month I am going to use the blog to talk about my Nano process. Next week I am going to interview two of the main characters and have them discuss the story.

This is my favorite quote from my Nano Liason- Tickelmecolor “All year long, we are given tasks, do the things, pay bills, and meet the deadline. NaNoWriMo can, at times, feel like a harsh deadline, but really it’s more like Recess. You have to squeeze all the playtime out of it before you have to go back to the dull world of Adults and Responsibilities. This is a window of time to do as you choose not as you are told.

So Recess it is. Current stats for The Adventures of Aquafunkapus and his band of misfit heroes. Daily Stats- 11/1-1825 11/2- 2025 11/3 1975- Three Day Total- 5825- Average 1941 words a day. Guess what. I still went shopping, did laundry, did the budget, and went to my son’s school performance today. Recess it is.

 Below is a picture of my hourglass. I stole the idea from Elizabeth Gilbert.

One thought on “Recess

  1. Hi fellow Nano & Java writer 🙂
    I really enjoyed reading about your system for writing during nanowrimo and pleased to be on the journey with you.
    I laughed at this “I don’t love other people’s systems. I don’t like other people trying to give me a system.” and it made me think of how I don’t enjoy being told what to do, yet I actively seek out ideas from others and do enjoy seeing what might work for me. Stealing like an artist as Austin Kleon would say.
    The biggest takeaway from this post is to remember to have fun while writing. I loved the ideas from Tickelmecolor to think of Nano as recess. As I get ready to write my 1600+ words for today I will think of it as heading to my writing sandpit and as a Pantser, will have fun with whatever inspiration comes to mind.

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