NaNoWriMo Prep 2016 + a FREE Printable!

Hello, lovelies! For a couple of years now, I have been intrigued by the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo (that’s short for National Novel Writing Month). Every year, I’ve made excuses — I’m too busy, I’m not a writer, I can’t think of a good story/plot — but this year is different. I’m tossing out the excuses (even though the negative thoughts are still in the back of my mind) and I’m going for it!

NaNoWriMo Explained


National Novel Writing Month began back in 1999 and has taken place each year during the month of November.

Starting on November 1st, participants from all over the world embark on a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. The challenge is simple: Don’t start writing until November 1st, and finish writing at least 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th.


National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which encourages writers of all ages through programs like The Young Writers Program, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Come Write In Program.

I have to admit that this is probably my favorite part about NaNoWriMo. The organization’s commitment to community outreach and development really strikes a chord with me. So much so, that I’ve committed to donating $10 each and every month to the cause.

NaNoWriMo’s Mission Statement:

“National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”

NaNoWriMo Fundraising

In addition to my own personal monthly pledge, I’ve decided to join in the fundraising efforts this year! You can click the photo above to go to my fundraising page.

The Night of Writing Dangerously is an annual event hosted by NaNoWriMo in San Francisco, CA.

In order to attend I need to raise a minimum of $300 for the non-profit organization that runs NaNoWriMo to get in the door, and from there, a rich array of prizes, delicious food, and sumptuous writing time awaits.

But this is not about me getting a treat-filled night of literary abandon. This is about children and adults getting the encouragement, structure, and inspiration they need to achieve their creative potential. Proceeds from the event will fund National Novel Writing Month’s free creative writing programs in hundreds of schools and communities around the world.

I’ve set an initial fundraising goal of $500, but I’m hoping to blow that figure out of the water! Wanna help?

PS – If I raise over $425, I get to bring a guest along to the event! If this happens, I plan on hosting a giveaway for one lucky reader from the Bay area to join me for this fantastic night!

I'm officially committing to NaNoWriMo in 2016! Here's how I'm preparing to write 50,000 words of a brand new novel in November :)

* This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love! (Learn more here) Thank you for supporting Boho Berry!

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo 2016

Let’s be completely open and honest here. Preparing to write a novel takes a lot of work!

There are so many things to consider: Title, plot, storylines, character development, world building, outlining, not to mention all of the research! (SO much research, y’all!)

Over the past week, I have been scouring the web as well as the NaNoWriMo forums on the hunt for resources and information to help me prepare for what is sure to be a daunting task.

NaNoWriMo Prep

I’ve been scribbling notes, sketching out Bullet Journal layouts, brainstorming a “survival kit,” all in addition to figuring out my plot and working on character development.

NaNoWriMo Tools & Resources

While most of my planning is still a jumbled mess, I have been able to get myself a little more organized with the help of some valuable tools and resources.

It’s worth mentioning here that the resources mentioned below are just the tip of the iceberg of what can be found online. Don’t be afraid to branch out and find some amazing resources of your own!

NaNoWriMo Forums

Probably one of my favorite resources of all, the NaNoWriMo forums are chock full of tips and tricks from seasoned “WriMos.” Here, you can find anything from plot help to world building advice. You can even check out the Adoption Society (my favorite) where you can adopt a plot, a character, and even witty comebacks and dialogue!

Other NaNo Prep Resources

Sign up for #NaNoPrep events, join your regional group, make a public commitment, and check out the massive NaNoWriMo prep resource library right here!

Better Novel Project Blog

I fell down a pretty serious (albeit productive) rabbit hole when I discovered Christine’s blog. She has some incredible resources and insights for writers. My favorite is her Master Outline, which I’ve shamelessly copied to use as a guide for my own novel in November.

Brandon Sanderson’s BYU Writing Class

Although it’s geared towards Epic Fantasy writers, this course is packed full of helpful advice on character development, world building, magic systems, and dialogue. With over 12 hours of video, it’s a doozie but SO worth it!


Available for both Mac and PC, Scrivener is my go-to app for writing and outlining. I’ve been using it for months (thanks to Kim for the recommendation!) to manage my blog posts and major writing projects.

NaNoWriMo outline in Scrivener

I plugged Christine’s (Better Novel Project) outline into Scrivener, and I’m working diligently behind the scenes to hash out my plot and characters within the program as well.


Grammarly is hands-down one of my favorite new tools for writing! As someone who values proper grammar, and also someone who sometimes makes silly grammatical errors, this tool had been a life-saver.

Grammarly InsightsBesides their web-based interface, Grammarly also has a plug-in that monitors everything you type online (from social media to email) and suggests corrections on the go.

From misplaced commas to warnings of overused words, Grammarly has come to my rescue more than once.

One of my favorite Grammarly features is the weekly insights that I get in my inbox.

I love seeing how I stack up against other Grammarly users, as well as what my problem areas are each week.

NaNoWriMo Bullet Journalists

If you’re a Bullet Journalist like me and participating in NaNoWriMo, then you’ll LOVE this Facebook group!

NaNoWriMo Bullet Journaling - October Writing Challenge

In addition to sharing our planning layouts and cheering each other on, the admins are hosting an awesome writing challenge during the month of October to get everyone in the habit of writing before November starts!

Printable NaNoWriMo Tracker

Of course, no project of mine would be complete without adding some planning and tracking into my Bullet Journal! I’m planning to add a lot more planning to my pages very soon, but I couldn’t wait to share this spread with you!

Since I’ll be switching into my Filofax BuJo in November, I decided to create this spread over there instead of my current notebook.

What started out as a hand-drawn tracker soon sparked the idea for a printable version to share with the world :) Here’s how it looks printed out and hole punched for my A5 Filofax Domino:

NaNoWriMo Printable Trackers!

Click the image below to download your very own copy today! The .zip file includes both A5 and Letter-sized printables in a high-quality PDF :)

NaNoWriMo Trackers

How are YOU gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2016? Be sure to add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website right here :)

* This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love! (Learn more here) Thank you for supporting Boho Berry!


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  • A 10% off coupon for Boho Berry Paperie for each month that you remain a Tribe Member.

You will also receive the Boho Berry Newsletter every Friday -- chock full of motivation, inspiration, updates and more!

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Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy - Boho Berry Paperie.
  • Judy Hudgins

    If you send me your address (knottyneedle at gmail dot com) I will send you a couple of the NaNoWriMo stickers for this year. I am the Municipal Liaison for the Helena, Montana area and LOVE this post!

    • Thank you SO much, Judy! That is so sweet of you :) Here’s my PO Box:

      Kara Benz
      Boho Berry
      PO Box 780
      Cookstown, NJ 08511

  • I participated last year! It was great! I had completely forgotten about it this year…well forgotten November is so soon! I may end up revising, or completely redoing the story I had last year…I ended up hating pretty much everything about it by the end haha. Ok, not hating it but…but I just have so many directions I want to go in ><

    • I’m struggling with “many directions syndrome” right now! Taking today to hopefully narrow down my plot and start in on character development :) I think re-hashing last year’s novel is a brilliant idea for you!

  • Awesome, I can’t wait to hear all about it. I’m not doing NaNo this year, because starting on October 24th, I have 3 writing workshops back to back as I finish up my degree. However, I got Scrivener from my hubby last year for Christmas (the MAC version), and I <3 Grammerly, so I hope, hope, hope you do a wrap up post and tell us your experiences after this is all over. I like that they added a nonfiction group a few years back, so those of use who aren't into novel writing can still participate. Write on! <3

    • Thanks, Beth! I was considering skipping it this year since I have a lot of travel coming up but I just couldn’t resist. Hubby will be well aware that I’ll be needing some uninterrupted quiet time daily in November haha! I’ll definitely have some more NaNo posts along the way and a wrap-up at the end :)

  • I let fear talk me out of doing NaNoWriMo for the past ten years. This year, I’m going for it! To be honest, I don’t think I have a choice. I’ve been unable to focus on work for the past month because I have this story in my head and the characters are trying to break free. They’ve been locked up in there for a decade, I guess it’s time. I’m excited and terrified :)

    • Oh, Kelly! “Excited and terrified” describes me to a T! I’m so excited that you’re taking the plunge!

  • Kathryn Picken

    I LOVE NaNoWriMo!

    This made me laugh though: “Preparing to write a novel takes a lot of work!” You are clearly a “Planner”, not a “Pantser” like me. I’ve done NaNo eight times, won five times and rarely have a clue what I’m writing before the last week in October. Once I came up with an idea on the 31st!
    (This does, of course, leave serious holes in my world-buiding and means facts may be dubious and characters change names mid-story or even get called “X”, but hey, that’s what editing is for!)

    Love the word-tracker – I was wondering how to incorporate NaNo in my BuJo, so I will be using that for sure.

    ( By the way, NaNoWriMo writers are usually called WriMos, not NaNos. I have no idea why :-) )

    • Thanks for that, Kathryn! I just changed it in the post :)

      I’m so impressed by you “pansters”. I would lose my mind going into this with no planning, but it sure would be a lot easier (at least in October haha!)

      • Kathryn Picken

        No problem! I’m equally impressed by those who go into this with a load of planning behind them, and I tend to think that would make life easier!

  • Chris Laputka

    Hi Kara. Thanks for posting your tracking ideas. I hope you’ll be able to come to one of our local events, be it a planning session, write-in, or even Write All Night (yes ALL night!). Our local forums will have a ton of information on all our events, so I’m glad you found us on the NaNoWriMo site. You know how to reach me if you have any questions or need plotting advice or encouragement.

  • Sora Seishin

    Hi Kara,
    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been thinking about trying NaNoWriMo for YEARS but with your encouragement, I’ll REALLY try it this year.
    There are no events in my area (I live in Brazil) and I know that I won’t have the time to look into everything NaNoWriMo has to offer, but if I can write just a few pages, I’ll already be happy, because that’s more than what I did in this whole year.

  • Tímea Kocsisné Nagy (Timi)

    So happy for this post! ^^
    I’m participating NaNoWriMo since a few years – never finished with even an okay first draft, but always finished with 50000 words, and it’s so fun every year. Last year was even better, our small town gave us a local NaNoWriMo group with four people :D, we came together, drank a lot of mulled wine, ate cookies and were writing together, it was so much fun. I’m sooo looking forward to this year! I planned to be a planner this year (usually I’m a pantser), but honestly, I freaked out on October 1st. X’D But no worries, I have two outlined idea (one from last year, one from earlier), so maybe my NaNo prep will be just getting back to finction writing in general, and then in November, I’ll be a semi-pantser again. :D
    Would you mind sharing your NaNo username? I’d love to add you as a writing buddy. ^^

    • Thanks, Timi! I added a link to my profile at the end of the post but my username is BohoBerry :)

      • Tímea Kocsisné Nagy (Timi)

        Was this link there? Sorry I missed it. /o But thank you and I instantly added you as buddy, under the username nagytimi85 ^^

  • Hi Kara,
    Thank you so much for linking to Better Novel Project! I am so happy that you found my research useful. :)
    Good luck with your writing and fundraising!!

    • Thank YOU, Christine, for creating such a valuable resource! I can’t tell you what a help your site has been for me in my planning process :)

  • Brenda MacD

    I have done NaNoNo for a few years and enjoy it. I gets me writing and I feel part of a community with local write-ins and a deadline. I enjoy the challenge and feel part of something. We can do this!!

  • Steven Thompson

    I did NaNoWriMo last year for the first time. It was so much fun. What helped me was this.
    In order to hit 50,000 words I had to type 1,666 a day. I sat at my computer and just typed and set a timer, it took me about 45-50 to write that many words. So I set a timer every day for 50 minutes .
    Second I just wrote without thinking, editing or spell checking, my only goal was to hit my word count.
    Third I went to a local write in every Sat hosted in my area, this was key, I met some neat people and had a blast. I finished my novel around the 28th a few days early, this year I plan to self publish my novel. I have a title and found an editor and I am ready to go on Nov. 1

  • I’m not doing NaNo (I am not quite mad enough to try to write a full draft AND prepare a transatlantic move all in one month XD), but I am hoping to get a rewrite of one of my projects done in the next few months.

    Hope you enjoy NaNo!

  • YES, KARA, DO NANO. I’ve done it the last two years and it is SO. MUCH. FUN. Don’t worry about getting your plot or your characters or your outline perfect. Just remember to enjoy the process and have fun. You will write best if you don’t nit pick your writing and just let it come. I’ve been writing fiction consistently for about five years and listening to your inner editor is the fastest way to kill your writing.

    • Thanks, Lisa! I’m a habitual edit-as-I-go gal, so that’s going to be the toughest habit for me to break in November. I’m going for it though! :)

  • Leila

    Hi Kara! I tried to browse the comments but didn’t see it so hoping I am not repeating a question. Can you tell me more about Scrivener? I assume you purchased it? How does it help you with your blogging and writing? I would love to hear more about it before investing when you can! Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Leila! I did purchase it, but not until I finished my free trial to make sure that I loved it. I’m planning to write a review post soon, but you might check out Bryan’s post on how he uses Scrivener for blogging. It’s the one that sold me on it :)

      • Leila

        Thank you!!

        • Keep in mind that Scrivener usually offer a special free trial at the start of NaNoWriMo especially for NaNo writers. Then at the end of the month they offer a discount for participants who want to buy it (I think it’s 20%), and 50% off for people who “win” NaNoWriMo. :) That’s how I bought my copy years ago. If you sign into your NaNoWriMo account you’ll have access to the “Special Offers and Greetings From NaNo Sponsors” section of the forums, where Scrivener (and many other companies) detail the specials for NaNo members. :) Good luck with your novel!

          • Daphné Kelly

            Thank you so much for that information, Natalie! I just signed up for NaNoWriMo and was wondering how to plan and prep, and this will help me immensely! :)

  • Beth Genenbacher

    I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo since 2004, and won twice. This will be my first year with the bullet journal, so I’m excited to try it and hopefully win this year.

  • Hey, Kara. This is my fourth year participating to NaNo and my second year as ML for my region, Italy.
    I’m sure it’ll be a fun competition for everyone who will be participating. Just wanted to tell you good luck and most important of all, have fun writing. NaNoWriMo is all about having fun writing and getting the juices flowing. ;)

  • Kirstyanne Ross

    fantastic post, this year is my Tenth NaNoWriMo and for the first time ever, even though I am a planner through and through and have my worksheets to help me through the November month, I am starting on Nov 1st with a single sentence. I am going to pants it! xxxxx good luck xxxx

  • Adriana Romero

    Hi Kara! thank you for this great post and all your findings. I wanted to share that I also use Scrivener for Mac and recently downloaded the iOS app. I love it! it had been my writing tool for the last 3 years! I love how you can create a backbone, have ideas, pin pictures, create notes, it is writers heaven (after a good pen and pretty notebook). What I love about the iOS is that it syncs with my Mac and so I can add notes and ideas on the go, in my phone or iPad. I hope you have a great NaNoWri 2016 and I am almost ready to join the challenge myself. Cheers! Adriana

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  • Lizzie Young

    Do you think you’d be willing to post your entire Scrivener outline, just the structure of it? I love the way you utilized the icons and were able to translate Christine’s Master Outline into a workable plan.

  • Anne Lyle

    Great post – I don’t exactly bujo, but over the past year or so I’ve stolen a few design ideas from your blog and incorporated them into my own hybrid style :) I’ve always used a spreadsheet for my NaNoWriMo word count in the past because it does the maths for me, but with Scrivener on my Macbook, iPad and iPhone I’ll have a running total anyway – and ticking off the milestones on paper will be so much more satisfying!

    Thanks for the link to Brandon Sanderson’s class, too. I’m a long-time fan of “Writing Excuses” (the podcast he does with Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal and Dan Wells), but didn’t know he had videos on YouTube.

    Good luck with your novel!

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  • Good luck!

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  • Love your NaNoWriMo word tracker! I’m being a cheater (er… “rebel”) again this year, as I’m going to be bringing in an older WIP that needs beefing up AND working on a nonfiction book, too, so it’s going to be hectic. Hopefully I can keep track of everything with this printable! (P.S. I’m valcapone on the NaNo website.)

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