Preparing for NaNoWriMo? Thrive with Step 5: Plan now to chill

Table with awls, scissors, weights, thread and paper to stitch together a booklet.
Stitching up the middle. Bookbinding workshop at the Frankfurt Book Fair. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

This is the fifth post in a short series on preparing for (and thriving during) National Novel Writing Month. The first post collects story ingredients here , the second finds the core of your story here , the third cuts the story up into manageable portion sizes here, and the fourth clarifies the story soup here. Happy Writing!

We’re half-way through November. How’s the middle of your story going for you?

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, I went to a bookbinding workshop for kids sponsored by Colonia Leather and the second year students of Frankfurt’s Gutenbergschule. The students taught us how to do a double figure-eight stitch for the binding. You start in the middle and work your way around. Make sure you tie the final knot on top of the thread so the knot doesn’t pull through the hole.

Doesn’t this look suspiciously like turning points in a character arc or the novelist’s determined pursuit of a live story? When we draft, we keep on finding places to come back to earlier scenes, characters, and details in the story.

Diagram of double figure eight stitch for five-hole binding.
Bring the threaded needle up through the center hole and follow the arrows around to create the binding. Making a book involves lots of twists and turns. Let it settle. © Laurel Decher, 2016

Nice metaphor, you say, (because you’re polite) but I’m a little busy writing a novel.

Have you ever thought of what you really wanted to say after the meeting? Or after you hit send?

From deep in the story, it’s hard to see. When you set a story aside, your subconscious finishes drawing it while you take the rest of your mind somewhere else for a while.

Plan now to chill your #nanowrimo story for three months. After NaNo, your well of words will be low or even dry. Mark your calendar for February 28th, 2016 or 3 months from the day you finish drafting. Back up your file. 🙂

Fill yourself up for three months with all the love, celebration, books, hikes, music, and activism you can find. Make some new shoeboxes for the next project. Pretend the meeting’s over and the e-mail’s sent. Act heartless.

Because a story is like a rubber band. If you keep stretching it, it either breaks or loses its shape. But you if you let it go: It flies.

Happy Writing!


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Laurel Decher

LAUREL DECHER lives on the outskirts of a mid-sized city in Germany, between a medieval chapel on St. James' Way and a boundary marker tree complete with scary face. It's a little surprising, since she expected to live in Vermont for the rest of her life. You just never know when adventure will call! She writes stories about all things whimsical, vegetable, or musical. When she's not lost, she can be found on Twitter and on her blog, This Is An Overseas Post. TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS (Oct 2018) is her first book for young readers (ages 9-12) and the first Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale. Photo: © Jan Decher.

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