NaNoWriMo Preptober: Use This Activity to Get into Your World (Without Cheating!)

How are we in week three of Preptober already? 

You have your cast of characters, you have your beginning, your middle, and your end (your little bit of story structure) and you are itching to start writing. BUT if you’re following the NaNoWriMo rules, writing actual words is cheating.

Today, I have a really fun activity that helps you get into the world of your story and gets you excited about your story before outlining, which is next week. 

So how do we keep that momentum going? How do we keep excited? How do we get into the world of our story a little bit without writing too much? 

Let’s draw a map!

Are you creating a fantasy novel? Draw the entire new land, with towns, castles, dragon’s lairs, and that river that gives your hero his magical powers.

Sci-Fi? Chart a course through the stars so you know where the alien races are that are hostile and the ones that will let you band of star voyagers respite.

Contemporary romance? A map of the city they live in and where they have their first date, first fight, and other “firsts” depending on how spicy your book is – wink

The beauty of this exercise is you can do it in a bunch of different ways. You can use a giant piece of paper and draw with markers, crayons, water colors, stickers, and doodles. OR you can do this digitally using an app like GoodNotes or Procreate. You can even use real life maps – print them out or buy them and mark all kinds of info.  

To see how I’m using my iPad, Apple pencil, and the app GoodNotes to create my NaNo project maps, watch the YouTube video below.

If you want to annotate on actual maps or your finished hand-drawn map, you can use colored post-it notes to distinguish different characters or points in your book.  You can make floor plans of houses, research how cities looked in different historical points in time and map out where things happen within your world, or you can just write bullet points of info and start writing some descriptions. 


Be careful with this though, try to keep the bullet points short and sweet so you don’t start actually writing – but you do YOU! I invite you to try this activity, I think it’s super fun, helps you get into your character’s world, and allows you some time to be creative before the hard work of NaNoWriMo comes around. 


So now that you have your characters, you have that beginning, that middle, that end, and you have some world building done – you are in an excellent position to do outlining, which is next week. Just a few short weeks and we’re gonna start writing. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating. And if you are thinking of doing NaNoWriMo then I invite you to join my free accountability group


I am sending weekly emails and check-ins starting in November. We’re gonna have weekly Zoom writing sessions so that we can up our word count together. And don’t worry if you think you’ve missed anything because as soon as you get started, I will send you a link to the Dropbox folder that has all of the workbooks that I have sent so far. Let me know if you have any questions, leave them down in the comments below and let me know –  what kind of map did you draw this week?  I’d love to know!!

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