Tag Archives: Scrivener

How I Get Ready For Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp starts tonight at midnight! I’m ready. I’ve got my bug spray, trail mix and everything I need to finish my novel in a month!


As I mentioned in my previous nano post. I won’t be starting a new novel for nano. Instead, I’m using nano to push me to finish the final act of the novel that I won November nano with.  My novel is called Pup and it is currently 67,313 words long. I figure 30,000 should be a sufficient goal to finish this first draft. It may even be more than I need but if I finish short than I will rewrite some scenes from another point-of-view or add additional scenes so that I have plenty of material to work with in revision.

Based on my experience with November nano, here are the nano essentials I can’t live without:

1. A nanowrimo calendar for my desktop wallpaper that tells me what today’s word count goal is. Since I couldn’t find one for July, I made one myself. If you like it, I’d be happy to adjust the word count to whatever your goal is and email you a copy. Just leave me a comment below and let me know.

camp nanowrimo calendar

2. Scrivener & an outline
. If you don’t have it already, download the free trial of Scrivener. It is hands down the best writing program I have ever come across and has increased my productivity exponentially. You can also get a discount on Scrivener if you win nanowrimo. In this one program you can write your manuscript, outline, format, take notes–and so much more! I made my outline a few months before November nano in Scrivener. I have a process for making my outline. If any of you are interested, I can make a tutorial on it. Here is a screenshot of my outline for act one.


3. Write or Die & Written Kitten:
I love Write or Die. It is a program that you can use free online. Simply enter your word count and your level of difficulty and start writing. If you stall too long between words, the screen will start to turn red and then a loud alarm will sound (you can choose from many horrible sounds–I use the crying babies one). WOD also has a neat feature called word wars where you can challenge a friend over the internet and compete for the highest word count. There is now Write or Die 2 as well, which I haven’t tried yet but has loads of new features. WOD is highly motivating for my word sprints, but if you’d prefer a kinder option there is Written Kitten. Same concept only for every hundred words you are rewarded with a new picture of a cute kitty.


4. Snacks:
Now in November, I was unconcerned about healthy eating. I fed the writing machine whatever it craved so long as it continued to produce the words, however, for Camp Nano I’m trying something different. My writing buddy, Adrian and I are drying fruit and making trail mix as a healthy alternative to chocolate and potato chips. There will also be coffee….lots of coffee! And some ice water. Hydration is key. Snacks are also a highly motivating reward. Last November, my writing buddy and I had Daiquiri Fridays where we would reward ourselves with a strawberry daiquiri for every 1.000 words written.


5. A Playlist:
When I’m writing at home alone, I prefer the quiet but when I’m at a coffee shop or writing with a friend, I am easily distracted by the smallest of noises. At these times, I cue up my playlist and pop my headphones in. Listening to music also helps inspire me when I’m stuck. For Pup I’ve been listening to a lot of Apocalyptica.


Now I want to hear from you! What are your Camp NaNoWriMo Essentials?


Manage Your Timeline with a Scrivener Calendar

scrivener logoIt’s an easy mistake to make.

You get so caught up in your story that you write a three-day week or you set your book during a particular month and forget to include some acknowledgement of a major holiday.

My current novel spans a few months and includes major plot points that take place on the full moon. I’m a visual person, so to help me organize my days I use a calendar. I write a brief description of events on the corresponding days on the calendar. An old calendar that you’ve saved or a discounted one bought at the start of the year, works just fine. You can also use Google Calendar on the web. Because I like to keep all my notes together with my outline, I create my calendar in Scrivener for Windows.

For those new to Scrivener, I’ll walk you through it:

  1. First create a new text document by right-clicking your cork board and selecting Add > New Text.
  2. Open your new text document (click on it in the Binder). Place your cursor in the text document then Format > Table > Insert Table.
  3. Place your cursor in the table then go to  Format > Table > Table Properties. This will open up the table properties window. Go to Rows & Columns and change it to 6×7.
  4. Type the days of the week in the cells in the top row.
  5. Go to File > Save as Template so that you can use this blank template again for future projects.
  6. Next include dates. For a reference for the dates, moon cycle etc I use the website sunrisesunset.com. From there, you can enter the place and then either go to the month you need or go through the search results to find something more specific. For instance, if you need the month to start on a Saturday or you are looking for a month with a blue moon (two full moons in one month). Seeing an example will help to make sure that you have the correct amount of days or have included enough distance between the moon phases.Also make sure to write any holidays that occur during the month in your calendar. This is important. I didn’t realize until I created a calendar for my novel, that the events of the story took place over Fourth of July weekend. When I caught this, I incorporated the holiday, making the narrative and the setting stronger.

Once your calendar is complete, you can fill in the details from your outline. When I first created my calendar, I also used color coded cells to highlight days that events take place. Unfortunately, there is a bug with the Windows version of Scrivener because the cell color doesn’t save. However, you can change the color of the text.

If you have Scrivener for Mac there are also some nifty things you can do with custom meta-data. Jamie Todd Rubin as a great post about this. Mac users can also sync their Scrivener with Aeon Timeline. Aeon is available for Windows without the synchronization but for my current project, I haven’t felt the need for a program this intricate and, like I said, I like to keep all of my notes in one place.

My novel takes place over the course of a few months so this method works great for me. As you can see by the screenshot of my calendar below, I don’t add much description to the calendar, only as much as I need to remind me of the event that takes place. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done.

Now I want to hear from you. How do you manage your novel’s timeline? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to hit the follow button for more reviews and writing discussions.