Posted in Creative WRiting, Nano, nano advice, nano tips, nano tricks, NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, National Novel Writing Month

NaNo Prep, Tips, and Tricks!


Hey, everyone! It’s Thursday, Friday, because yesterday my 4thewords app ate all of my words on this blog (my fault, not the sites) and that means that it’s time for another tips and tricks Blog for NaNoWriMo! Is everyone excited? It’s less than a week away now, and I’m honestly starting to get extremely antsy for it. As usual, I have a thousand ideas racing around in my head, and I’ve been tempted to completely throw out what I thought I was going to work on to plot something all new. That’s actually where my tip is going to come from today.

Follow your muse.

No, I’m not talking about only writing when your muse feels like it, because she’s in a flowing white gown and the lighting is just right, and the moonlight is poetic enough that maybe, maybe, if you ply her with chocolate and sweets and coffee she’ll come out so you can play.

I don’t believe in letting the muse be quite so in control, to be quite honest. So, before I dive into the tip that I actually meant to give you, I guess I’m going to give you another one. You can’t only write when you feel like it – especially for NaNo.

You’re working on a novel – you’re working on something that’s clearly important to you. Your writing is clearly important to you. If someone really loves sports and wants to excel, they practice. Even when they don’t want to. If someone really loves music and they want to excel, they practice. Even when they don’t want to. 

If you really love writing, you should practice. Even when you don’t want to.

Are you getting where I’m going with this? I’m not saying that you have to write all of the time – I’m just saying that if it is something that is important to you… it’s probably something that you should put effort into practicing. And if it’s something that you want to do professionally? It’s really, really something that you should put a daily effort into. Yeah, the professionals don’t have to write all day every day… but you know what? They had to practice to get to where they are. They had to figure out how to hone and perfect their craft, and they’re still learning as they go.

So, that’s my little piece of advice that I actually didn’t mean to give in this blog. Treat your writing with the same respect as you would anything else that you want to get good at – yeah, it is something that is based on your creativity; take your muse hostage though. Tie that bitch up and stuff it into the closet, and only feed it after it has given you what you want, mkay?

In all seriousness, don’t wait around for some magical being to strike you with creativity. Don’t only write when you feel like it. Write even when you don’t – write when you don’t think that you can write. Eventually, even though it seems like it was hard at first, it will become a habit, and it will become something that you can do, even on those terrible days when you don’t feel like it. You’ll do it because you can, because you practiced, and because writing every day is something that is a part of you.

Okay… I’ve completely derailed from the actual reason that I was writing this blog. You know how I just told you to put your muse in a hostage situation…? Well… uh… you do still need to follow it though. What I mean by that is that you should pay attention to what your brain is interested in, and what you want to do for your writing project. I’ve had a lot of people in my writing group this year who have already talked to or approached the subject of the fact that they aren’t sure what they want to write this year. They had an idea that they developed at the beginning of October.

The problem with coming up with an idea at the beginning of October when you’re a creative person is that your brain has a lot of trouble settling on just that one idea. So you plot, you plan, you get pictures, you make playlists… and you find that you still have two weeks until NaNo begins and a million ideas kind of nagging at the back of your mind.

Yeah, I actually had that happen to me last year. I had my novel idea all set out – RipTide was going to be about post-apocalyptic mermaid things. (Yeah, bad explanation, but the explanation isn’t what this blog is actually about.)

Half way through doing my 31 Horror Prompts for October, I came up with this story about a boy whose mother sold her soul, and his soul, in order to get pregnant and be able to keep a baby. The whole fate of Heaven and Hell rested on his shoulders, and I wrote this really awesome scene about an angel who didn’t look anything less than a monster.

Oopse. I didn’t mean it – I really didn’t… but somehow, that one scene that was only a few thousand words ended up starting a novel idea that I couldn’t shake. I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to write it. I couldn’t stop my mind from developing a plot… so, instead of freaking out, instead of spending all of November wishing that I’d worked on Angelblade instead of RipTide… I made a decision.

I worked on both.

Sometimes, you  have to follow your muse. I’ve told this to everyone who has asked me advice on this particular subject.

What do I do if I have two projects that I really want to work on?

Work on both. I promise, your mind will usually sort things out for you. I did about 15,000 words on Angelblade, and about 80,000 on RipTide. My mind figured out what project it really wanted to focus on… but by not putting myself into a box and only letting myself go the conventional route of one book, I didn’t have regrets, and I didn’t stop RipTide half way through November because I was so frustrated with the fact that I didn’t just write Angelblade instead.

So, yeah, that’s my NaNo Tip for you today – listen to your muse, and follow it… but don’t let it dictate when you write. Your muse is there to give you ideas, and it’s there to gentle urge you along… but you are a writer, and you don’t need your muse to write. You can do it just fine all on your own.

With NaNo only a few short days away, I hope that everyone is prepared! I’m probably going to do daily update/tip blogs come November, and then in December, we will get back to our regularly scheduled blogging program. I’m really glad that you guys are enjoying these tips and tricks, and if there’s anything that you wanted me to talk about, just leave it in the comments below. I promise, I’ll do my best to help you through whatever it is that you need help with.

So, until… not next tip. There won’t be another Tips in October. Guys… NaNo starts this coming Tuesday. So, the next NaNo blog you get from me will be my Day One Update.

That’s pretty damn exciting.

Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick

Twitter | Patreon | NaNo Page | Tumblr | Blog Masterpost | My Writing Group
Buy Me a Coffee at

My Discord Group (click to join) is starting to rev up for NaNoWriMo! If you want some help with plotting and a group to stay steady with after, feel free to click and join!

Posted in Creative WRiting, NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, nanowrimo tips, nanowrimo trick, National Novel Writing Month

NaNo Preps, Tips, and Tricks!


It’s time for another tip blog for NaNo, and I do realize that I’m going to end up posting some of the same tips that I posted last year… but that was last year, and this is this year… and honestly, I go through the same prep process with new things added to it every year. So.

For today’s tip, I’m going to tell you something that I know I’ve told you before, but I find it so important that I don’t mind telling you again. The National Novel Writing Month website actually tells you this as well.

Make yourself a cover!

I don’t care if it’s really good, if you go into the Artisan forums and ask someone to make it for you, or if you just go to a free domain photo site and make something in paint. The point is, people who have covers have a might higher percentage of winning than people who don’t. I don’t get the exact science behind it, or the reason… but I really do find it to be true.


(Above is a cover that I made myself for my novel in 2014)

A Cover, at least for me, means that I have a vision of my project. It means that when I’m looking at it, I can imagine what it will look like when it’s put into an actual novel format. I’m not saying that the cover that you make is going to be the cover that you keep – if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, I’m pretty sure that you won’t even get a say in what that cover is when you first publish. But for now, and for your mind? It’s going to be there for you. You’re going to see it as a book, not just as that thing that you’re trying to throw together in a month as best you can.

For me, I try to always use public domain photos, or something that is free to use. I don’t like using people’s pictures without their permission. The place where I made my covers (yes, you heard me right, plural) for this year is Everything there is public domain, so it’s been pretty fun. I wouldn’t, of course, self-publish anything without doing further research… but for the intents and purposes of making a cover that I can use for NaNoWriMo? It’s a great site. There are quite a few places where you can get free to use photos if you do a google search – any one of those is a wonderful place to start, if you’re going to make your cover yourself!

Once you’ve found a picture that you like, it’s extremely easy to take it to a place like Lunapic, or even your own windows programs if you prefer. Add some text, including your name and a title. The great thing about it is this – you don’t have to feel like you’re tied in to the title that you choose. If you decide to change it later, this isn’t a professional cover. This isn’t something that you paid a ton fo money for… this is a cover that you made. This is just something that you did to give your mind a visual of what your book coudl look like.

Nothing is set in stone, except for the fact that you have the determination to turn your story into a novel!

So, that’s all that I have for tips today. If you guys want, i can do a blog on how I made my book covers! I’d love to share. Other than that, keep in mind that NaNo is in about 2 weeks now. Get your outline pounded out, get your prep-prepped! It’s going to be time to go on a pretty rad adventure soon!

Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick

Twitter | Patreon | NaNo Page | Tumblr | Blog Masterpost | My Writing Group
Buy Me a Coffee at

My Discord Group (click to join) is starting to rev up for NaNoWriMo! If you want some help with plotting and a group to stay steady with after, feel free to click and join!

Posted in Creative WRiting, NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, nanowrimo tips, nanowrimo trick, National Novel Writing Month

Prep, Tips and NaNo Tricks!


I want to apologize for missing my post on Tuesday. I had a bit of a busy week, so finishing up my prompts and getting them out was about all that I could handle. That is okay though, because I’m here today!

I figured I’d go ahead and take this one to a list of things that find to be super important to NaNoWriMo being kicked off properly. Of course, this is just my list… but I think it’s a pretty good list!

  • Notebooks – I love notebooks. I definitely need them in my life when I’m doing NaNo (who am I kidding, I need them in my life all of the time.) Even though I do a lot of plotting in Scrivener (I will get to that in a moment), there’s still a part of me that remembers the time before I could carry around a computer everywhere. That part of me wants a notebook. Use it to write ideas, to jot down dialogue that you hear people say throughout the day. As a writer, I guarantee you’re going to need it.
  • Scrivener – This is my personal preference. I really adore this writing program, so much so that I’ve done entire blogs on it before. I’m thinking of doing an update Scrivner blog, actually… because it really does change the way that I write. It gives you an organized place to write, to store your thoughts, and to make sure that you can get your words out come November.
  • Pens, markers, etc – In vein with the whole notebook business, make sure that you have things to write with. I use mine more for sticky notes and writing down my daily word counts after I get the initial notebook planning out of the way… but they’re honestly really important.
  • I know it’s silly, but Snacks. Snacks, and coffee and discounted Halloween candy. Having something to munch on while you’re writing is kind of imperative when you’re going to be so busy writing that you sometimes forget to eat to begin with. At least, that’s how it happens with me a lot.
  • Your outline. I know a lot of people are pantsers, but at least have a general idea of what you’re doing if you can. Just something vague, something that you can at least know what you’re going for. It will make a huge difference, I promise you.
  • A playlist! I know it’s silly, but having a specific playlist for your project can really help. Your mind associates those songs with your novel, and it actually helps you to get into gear and into the mood that you were in when you were writing before. This year, I’m going to try to have chapter playlists, because I think it could be a lot of fun.
  • Maybe most important – your writing group. Your writing buddies… just someone to participate with. Having someone who can hold you accountable, and someone that you can challenge, that you can write with? So important. I really do find a huge difference in my writing from when I had my writing group and when I didn’t. There’s a link to my Discord group in my signature, feel free to drop in and get an idea of what we’re all about. I promise, writing groups do make a huge difference.
  • Your writing space – make sure that you have it ready. If you’re someone who writes on the go, make sure that you have your laptop prepared then. Personally, I made a corner in my living room, and I have my desk prepared. I’m going to be cleaning up a few things for when I invite friends over. Just make sure that wherever you’re going to work, you have it cleaned, you have it ready to go…

So yeah, I might actually make a list v.2 if I think of more things. These are just a few tips and tricks that I know I use personally. I’d love to hear about what you do in order to get ready for NaNoWriMo! If you write a list, tag me in it! Maybe we can all make one big master list of our NaNo prep lists, so that anyone new to NaNo has a great resource!

I will see you guys a little later on in the day for my Horror Writing Prompt reply!

Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick

Twitter | Patreon | NaNo Page | Tumblr | Blog Masterpost | My Writing Group
Buy Me a Coffee at

My Discord Group (click to join) is starting to rev up for NaNoWriMo! If you want some help with plotting and a group to stay steady with after, feel free to click and join!


Posted in Creative WRiting, Nano, nano advice, nano tips, NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, nanowrimo tips, nanowrimo trick

Nano Preps and Tips!


It’s the time of year again, where I’m off to give you guys tips for a successful NaNoWriMo. I guess I’m going to start with the one tip that I find to be the most helpful. You may have heard these tips and tricks from me before, but they’re making a comeback in October for the purpose of NaNo Preparation!

Find a Writing Group.

Seriously. The only year that I didn’t win NaNo (2012), I didn’t have a writing group. I’d heard about it from someone on youtube. I thought it would be fun. I signed up – I didn’t have any friends who were participating. I wrote for the first day, completely forgot about it, and just went on about my life.

The thing is, a writing group and writing friends will hold you accountable. It’s not just that accountability that you need though. The excitement and air in a writing group really makes the difference between you going through those first week blues and stopping… and having an entire group of people who are experiencing the same thing as you are, but htey keep cheering you on. It’s the atmosphere, it’s the sense of community.

It’s honestly what I think NaNoWriMo is all about.

My Discord Group (click to join) is starting to rev up for NaNoWriMo! If you want some help with plotting and a group to stay steady with after, feel free to click and join!

I’m actually going to give out the link to my Discord writing group on here. I’ve had the group going since 2013, and I’ve won NaNo Every year since then. It’s just something that can honestly really help.

If you aren’t into the chat room scene, I really implore you to go and visit the NaNoWriMo Forums. There are so many helpful, friendly people there.

With a group, you can run sprints, you can challenge each other – you can share in your excitement and your days of defeat… and you can know that you aren’t on this crazy journey alone. There is always another person online at the very second that you’re feeling your emotions… and they’re feeling them, too. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to seek those people out – be a part of the writing community.

Trust me, you’ll thank me for it!

More tips to come every Tuesday and Thursday of October!

Until next time guys!!! Keep reading and writing, and keep being absolutely awesome!
Author Amanda McCormick

Twitter | Patreon | NaNo Page | Tumblr | Blog Masterpost | My Writing Group
Buy Me a Coffee at

Posted in nano prep, nano tips, nano tricks, NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, National Novel Writing Month, Writing Advice, Writing Tips, Writing Tricks

NaNo Prep Tip #11 – You Gotta Be You

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerRead, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

-Stephen King

   This is advice that I take to heart. I read voraciously, and I try to read without bias. As writers, we absorb everything that we read. It’s through reading and just writing (a lot) that we hone our skills. We study the art that we love this way. However, I sometimes find that people take this a little too far. It doesn’t just happen with authors that we love. We see people’s style in life, people that we’re around… and we’re impressed. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say.

   Well, I say that originality is the key to your writing success.

   I am in no way implying that you’re going to be able to come up with an all new, completely original idea. I know what you’re thinking. It’s like this…

   But, I had this great idea about people who were living underground and then they–

   No, that’s been done.

   Okay, so maybe I write about mermaids who–

   It’s been done.

   Fine! I have a completely original idea about a hobbit who–


   I’m not saying that you should be discouraged and never write. I’m saying that this is where originality comes in. You are going to write about something that’s been done before. I’m writing about a half-demon stopping the apocalypse and mermaids this year. It’s been done. Multiple times… but what I can bring to the table is something solely and completely unique to me. I can bring my voice. No other writer in this world can tell the story the way that I can, the way that my characters will, the way that my voice can. This is where you shine – this is where you become an author who will stand out. Now, the problem arises when we read and find ourselves coveting the way that an author writes. We love their tone. We love their voice… and so, we try to emulate it.

   We can’t do this as writers. We have to take a breath and realize that our voice is our own, and nothing is better than us using our tone. We will pick up little nuances from our favorite authors, and that’s okay. However, if you do your damn hardest to sound just like Stephen King… the only thing that you’re going to do is make sure that no one ever gets to hear you for what you are, for your originality… and that is a damn shame. You’re the only you this world has… so do everyone a favor and let your own writing flare shine!

That’s all that I have for right now, and I hope that you guys were able to take it to heart! Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick
Twitter | Patreon | NaNo Page

Posted in NaNoWriMo, nanowrimo prep, National Novel Writing Month, patreon, writing prep, writing prompts, Writing Space, Writing Tips, Writing Tricks

Prepping for NaNo (NaNo Tip #3… I think.)


So, I’ve been posting a bunch of writing prompts to prep for National Novel Writing Month, but just doing prompts isn’t the only prep that you need. Some of my tips have mentioned a few other things, but I wanted to really think about it and make a list for how I prep for NaNo. This post came about because I asked in my earlier post how you guys plan for NaNoWriMo. I’d still love to hear that, but for now… here is how an Amanda Do.

  • First and foremost, I do prompts. I know, you already know this… but it’s one of the more important things for me. If I haven’t been writing every day, it gets me into a habit. It’s a very important habit!
  • Secondly, I make sure my Scrivener is ready for me. I plot out my novel. I’m not a huuuugeee planner. What I tend to do is use the notecard feature on Scrivener. I will write something like: Chapter One – Introduce main character. Chatper Two – Introduce so and so conflict. Basically 1-2 lines about what I want to see happen during the novel. I don’t even do it for a guideline so much as just to see that I have enough content to get through the novel.
  • Third, I like to make sure that my NaNo room is all amped up. I start talking to people, trying to get the hype going. I have a few steady writer friends who I talk to all year long, but getting fresh excitement in the room is important to me.
  • Fourth, though I won’t do this until closer to the end of the month… I make sure that my writing area is completely clean and organized. I have a writing area all sectioned off… and it’s where I do a lot of my NaNo work. I can’t do that if it’s a mess… oh, I can’t do that at all. Along with this, I fix my calendar, write my word count goals, etc. I like to be able to mark off the days that I finish, how ahead/behind I am, etc.
  • Fifth, I make sure that I’m stocked up on coffee, energy drinks, and discounted Halloween candy. I think that one explains itself >_>
  • Sixth and finally for the moment, I get myself as hyped as possible. I look at my story, I plan out more details for it, I watch NaNoWriMo videos from people like Katytastic. I do everything that I can to get myself going so that I can do what I love to do on that first day…

And what is that, you might ask? First day, as soon a November 1st hits… I like to write. I write all day. I write as hard as I can. I word war, I word crawl, I participate in sprints. I do 1st day 10k. Yeah, that’s right. If I can, I like to get 10k in the first day. It gets you so ahead, and it’s a great goal to go for, even if you only get 5k. Getting ahead is so important!

Anyway, this post is getting a little lengthy, so I’ll end it for now. I’d love to hear how you guys prep! Let me know!

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda Mccormick

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