Preptober continues and one thing you may want to consider before November gets here is your NaNoWriMo notebook, and exactly what you’ll be putting in it.

a leaf-covered ground with a notebook, apple, pen, coffee cup and the text "What Do You Need in Your NaNoWriMo Notebook?"

Once you’ve thumbed through and highlighted all your writing books for NaNoWriMo, it’s time to get down to business and actually start writing.

But doesn’t it feel a little weird or maybe sacrilegious to just start typing? Maybe it doesn’t for you. For me, I need a notebook.

Now, I’m not the type to actually write a novel by hand, though I have been considering switching to that for a while until I get my groove back. Sometimes you just have to shake things up until you remember who you really are.

I will always love a notebook for storing ideas as they hit me, or for tracking progress in a visual way, or even for outlining. There’s no wrong way to use a notebook.

And as someone who has been talking about notebooks forever, I do feel I have some good ideas for how you can use a notebook this NaNoWriMo. So if you’re ready to get down to Preptober business, check out all these tips.

And if you’re really fancy, your NaNoWriMo notebook could be a super sweet Trapper Keeper, traveler’s notebook, or any other office supply that strikes your fancy.

NaNoWriMo Notebook Must-Haves

If you plan to keep your story stuff organized in a NaNoWriMo notebook this fall, the first step is thinking about what you need for your writing. I’ve got a few suggestions that will help you get your notebook all set up.

001: Outlining and planning stuff.

Calm down, pantsers. I’m not saying you have to know every single story beat.

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But you should know some stuff about your story.

So whatever sort of prep work you do for your writing, whether it’s a list of bullet points about stuff you want to happen in the story, research about the time period or setting, or even a list of character names, keep it in the notebook.

Of course, the more you outline, the easier it will be when it’s time to start writing. But you do you, fam.

Even if all you do before November gets here is write out some vague ideas, you’re doing good. Just get your story ideas out of your brain and on paper, and that will do wonders.

002: Anything you can’t track on the NaNoWriMo website.

Obviously, you can track your NaNoWriMo words per day on the NaNoWriMo website. But you can’t really track it sprint by sprint. I mean, you can keep adding as you go, but you don’t really to see how much you did on specific days and can’t compare it to the length of time that each sprint was.

So, if you want to track that, go for it. I also like to track how productive I am on certain days, and make note of why that may have been the case.

You could also track things that aren’t exactly writing, but writing-related. For example, I would love to see a graph of how many coffees I’ve consumed during NaNoWriMo.

Maybe a table of times you visited the library for a writing session, or maybe went to a specific coffee shop.

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It’s not information that is super important, but it may help you in the future if you want to look back and see if there was a day you were feeling particularly focused or creative, and where you were when you did that.

003: Thoughts that occur to you as you’re writing.

Sometimes, while you’re writing, you get an idea for something that needs to happen later on in the story. You could keep this in your head, but chances are if you try that, you’ll lose it.

So, I recommend writing down everything that occurs to you as it strikes your mind. This could be new characters or plot twists or events that you know will make a big impact on the story.

It could also be things you know you need to change. For example, if you changed a character’s name halfway through drafting, you could make a note that you need to go back and update it in the earlier pages.

I find that I spend a lot of time doing some free writing in notebooks I designate for specific projects, which helps me get into the story more as I’m writing.

004: Anything you’d keep in a writer’s notebook.

A NaNoWriMo notebook is just a writer’s notebook, and we all know I’ve been writing about those for a hot minute now. If you’d like to take a look at some of those posts, here they are:

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You can add tons of NaNoWriMo-specific stuff in there too, like a calendar word count tracker, or a schedule of all the writing meetups in your area.

005: Your NaNoWriMo Review.

One thing I recommend everyone try is to journal through a writing project. You don’t have to get super in-depth, and you can actually just write a couple of lines a day.

You can write quick reviews of how you did during a particular session, or track your moods or how you felt. It’s really up to you. But having this data could be helpful in the future.

If you’re the type of writer who likes to know what conditions you do your best work in, and maybe what days you should schedule a light writing load, writing your own little daily NaNoWriMo review can help you see trends in your work and how you feel.

Do You Have a NaNoWriMo Notebook?

Do you have a notebook for all your writing? Have you tried to keep a notebook during NaNoWriMo? What’s your favorite way of organizing your writing for specific projects?

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