November is right around the corner, and with it comes National Novel Writing Month. Stock up on coffee, tea, & chocolate, and let’s get writing!

What is National Novel Writing Month?

NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionately known by the thousands of writers who look forward to it each year, is a month-long writing free-for-all. The goal is to start the month with an idea for a novel and to write 50,000 words of that novel by November 30th.

It’s not as insane as it sounds. In 2018, 287,327 people participated in NaNoWriMo. Of those, 35,387 “won,” that is, reached the 50,000 word goal. That’s about 29%.

Check out this post from last year for more information about NaNo.

What do I win?

Well, nothing exactly. No prizes are awarded to those who manage to get 50,000 words down before midnight on the 30th, but they do have all that sand in their box, just waiting for them to start building castles.

There’s also a nice certificate to print out and hang on your wall.

If that’s not enough to tempt you, NaNoWriMo has several sponsors who offer incentives. For instance, winners can purchase Scrivener at a 50% discount.

Speaking of Scrivener . . .

My favorite Scrivener trick

I am not an organized person by nature. I try, but I usually fail spectacularly. Scrivener helps me keep my scattered thoughts neatly organized and easy to find. I could go on for days about how much it has helped me with organizing my writing.

But this tip has nothing to do with organization and everything to do with inspiration. As a photographer, I’m a very visual person, and it really helps me to be able to see my characters and settings. I have Pinterest boards for my books, but clicking over to Pinterest when I’m supposed to be writing . . . doesn’t end well.

With this tip you can create your own inspiration bulletin board right in Scrivener for when you need to take another stroll down the streets of your novel.

#1 Create an Inspiration folder

Inside my Inspiration folder in the binder I created folders for my fictional town, some of the characters’ homes, and the characters themselves. Inside those folders, I created individual documents for each photograph I wanted to add.

How do I add images to a document?

To add a photo to a document, find the Synopsis block of the Inspector, that right-hand column on the screen (if you don’t see it, click the blue “i”), and in the upper right corner, you’ll see either an index card or a photo icon. Click that to toggle back and forth between text and image. When you toggle to the image window, you’ll see a prompt to drag an image into the box.

#2 Add some images to your folders

Once you’ve added a few documents with images, you’ll see something like this when you click on each folder. These are a few of the images in my Hawthorne folder. The mystery I’m working on right now is set in autumn, so these are mostly images of what I imagine my small town might look like in the fall. This is especially helpful when it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m not feeling the fall atmosphere.

#3 Switch to Freeform Corkboard

When I’m working with scene cards to get my plot in order, I like to have all my notecards in nice orderly rows on the cork board. But for the inspiration images, I prefer a slightly messier approach.

At the bottom of the screen in Corkboard view, you’ll see some buttons. You want the one that looks like a four-paned window and the one to its right. The window button will give you nice neat rows of cards. But when you click on the Freeform button to the right of it, you get . . .


In Freeform mode, the bulletin board is just like an actual bulletin board. You can drag your images around the board and arrange them however you want them. It’s a mood board for your novel. You can put all your images into one folder so they are all on one screen, or you can do like me and separate them by settings and characters.

Try adding some photos to you Scrivener project

You might be surprised what a boost it gives to your creativity. I also like to drag photos of characters or settings into the Notes section of the Inspector for documents where I’m writing scenes.

Free Scrivener Mystery Template

Scrivener can be a little intimidating at first, but using a template can help. If you write mysteries, check out my free template for Scrivener. It’s designed with mystery novels in mind & contains lots of planning worksheets, as well as some tips & research links I find helpful. (If you’ve never worked with templates in Scrivener, this tutorial will help you out.)

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If not,
you should join us this year!

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