The Perfect Brainstorm

With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, March is now the long windup to the madness of April (sorry Birthday, you’ll have to be postponed). And I am outlining like a madwoman, making sure I have everything plotted out because, like a crazy person, 50000 words is not good enough for me.

Oh no.

I’m going for 77000.

Mostly because I hate my friends and want to spend more quality time with my cat.


Honestly, I want to push myself. I’ve hit the 50000 goal before, and wanted to up the ante. Partly because I’m a masochist, but mostly because I want to have a finished first draft by the end of camp.

So, while 50000 is an amazing goal to hit, for me it doesn’t feel like a finished book. I tend to have very long first drafts, so 90000 is more realistic in my case. And, since I already have 12000-ish words written already… (yay math!)

But all this preparation to write has gotten me thinking about the writing process, specifically how writers go around finding inspiration. For example, the idea for the WIP I’m using for Camp NaNo (What Lies Within Us) came while watching the news. It was 1:00am, so my brain was in that magical state where it can partially absorb what it’s watching while wandering into strange and nightmarish territory. So, of course, I had to get out of bed and write it down.

That was the easy party. Then I had to work on expanding it.

First up: creating characters

For me, the premise ALWAYS come first. It usually takes the form of a pitch, a quick one-to-two line idea that I instantly run away with. But after that I need the characters to carry the plot.

In this instance, the names inspired the characters’ personalities. And for that I used Nameshake:


For those of you unfamiliar with it, Nameshake is an iPhone app that randomly creates character names for you when you shake it (pretty self-explanatory). And I love it.

Next: deviantART!

If you are a writer and don’t know what deviantART is, get thee to an internet! It’s a treasure trove of artwork, and I love to mine it for inspiration for character personalities or just the overall feel of the novel.

Once I find some good character inspiration photos, Scrivener!


These are the character note pages on Scrivener. They’re awesome, and keep everything categorized and on hand when I’m writing. I create one for every character I include in my book, whether they’re a main character or a passing mention.

Secondly: plotting (bwahahahaha)


(not like that… okay, sorta like that)

The one thing that I must, must, MUST have when I write is a moleskin notebook. I carry them with me everywhere. I am always jotting down thoughts when they come to me, whether it’s on the subway or in the bathroom or at dinner. It’s just how I roll.


Look at all that lovely illegible handwriting. It’s like writing in code that sometimes even I can’t read.

I start by writing out all the world building rules as a framework, then break down the story in terms of three act structure just to get a very basic outline. Once I have one I like, I break it down chapter by chapter, bullet pointing all the beats I want to hit.


It’s then that I finally feel ready to start writing. I’ve got the details hammered out, but still have enough wiggle room to play around and improvise.

(and if I REALLY want to procrastinate, I’ll make a Pinterest board and a Spotify playlist)

But that’s just my process. How are you gearing up for Camp NaNo?


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