NaNoMyWay Instead of NaNoWriMo By: Kimberly Sabatini

I'm not gonna lie. I love me some #NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as...

I've attempted it before. And I even won on my second NaNo foray in 2013

But I'm going to have to admit the truth. Most of the time #NaNoWriMo isn't a good fit for me.
And I hate that it isn't because I love the energy. I crave the challenge. And I adore the community with it's pep talks and check-ins. 

I want to #NaNoWriMo but I've come to learn, through trial and error, that what I need to do first and foremost, is #NaNoMyWay. Which translates into participating in something I affectionally call...National Novel Writing Month My Way.

What does that mean? Well, for starters, when it comes to my writing, I don't pants anything anymore. 
I plot out extensively--even when I'm writing picture books. 

And I can predict your next question... 
How did I--the ultimate pantster--turn her approach to writing around so drastically?

Primarily, these two books...

About two years ago, it came to my attention, that I was making some of the same mistakes over and over again in my writing. To fix it,  I sought out numerous books on craft to help me learn how to be a better writer. But now these two books--THE ANATOMY OF STORY: 22 Steps of Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby and STORY GENIUS: How to Outline Your Novel Using the Secrets of Brains Science by Lisa Cron--are never far from my finger tips. 

In fact, I've been working these two books and their related online classes and other supports for at least a year and a half now. I keep rereading the texts and working through the exercises and adapting what I'm learning to my own writing process. I even started a private FB group of friends who were also working through the books, so we could discuss our questions and support each other. 

And a year ago, I made myself a 120 page workbook to help me digest Truby's book. 
I know, I'm a crazy person. 
But it was a very effective way of helping me to BEGIN digesting the information. Now I'm working on improving the packet to incorporate techniques and information from both authors. 
I have a novel length, detailed version that I use for pre-planning my novels...

This one is still a major work in progress.
And I'm also adjusting it to allow me to work directly on the paper packet if I'm inclined, or I can place my work in Scrivener and move back and forth between the two...

And this is a version I use for Picture Books/Chapter Books/Low MG...

It's a starting point and I keep adding and subtracting as I play with what works for me. But what ultimately doesn't change is the key components of writing a good story. 

So, why am I opting for #NaNoMyWay instead of #NaNoWriMo? 
It all comes down to timing. 
At this year's kick-off of National Novel Writing Month, I was 2/3 of the way through a YA novel, working with a couple mentors on a picture book project, revising a chapter book project and pre-planning my next YA manuscript. Not a single one of these projects put me in the proper position to officially participate in #NaNoWriMo. 
I'm "playing along" based on my own individual criteria, but it's different and I wish I could be mad drafting right now, but I'm not.
 And it's a good choice.

But that doesn't mean forever.
 I can't rule out an opportunity to participate in the future. In the future, my timing might be better. 
If down the line, all my stars are aligned, my novel development packet has been completed and I'm ready to make a mad draft to the finish line--well, you can bet I'll be the first one signing up for #NaNoWriMo.

In the meantime, tell me if you #NaNoWriMo or you #NaNoMyWay...


  1. I love Truby's book, too. Story Genius on my to-read list!

  2. I am SO with you on planning. Changes everything.

    1. I never knew--it's changing my writing life. I'm still not as good as I want to be, but I'm improving daily.

  3. I love Story Genius! Going to have to check out The Anatomy of Story.


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