If You Don't Like To Outline, Add These 9 Writing Tools To Your Cart

Javier Pardina/Stocksy

NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and if you feel woefully under-prepared — or if you're just the type of writer who doesn't prepare much at all — you might be tempted to skip out on all the fun this year. Don't worry! I've got nine easy NaNoWriMo prep tools for "pantsers", so you'll be ready and waiting to go by the time Nov. 1 rolls around.

NaNoWriMo — that's National Novel Writing Month — participants can generally be divided into two categories: plotters and pantsers. Plotters like to draw up outlines, storyboards, and other maps to their novel narrative, before they ever start writing content. Pantsers, on the other hand, fly by the seat of their pants. They might start out with a vague idea of what they want to write about, but they don't do much real prep work before NaNoWriMo begins.

There are benefits to both styles of writing, and some people can only be productive as either a plotter or a pantser. But pantsers have one huge problem that plotters don't typically encounter: having no idea where their story should go next. Never fear, though, pantsers; I have nine awesome tools you can grab for a little last-minute prep work, to ensure that you don't get writer's block in the middle of your 50,000-word goal.

'The Writer's Idea Thesaurus' by Fred White

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus, $13, Amazon

Filled with hundreds of brief plot ideas, categorized by genre and narrative conflict, this book will always have a new idea for you to play with in your writing project.

Rory's Story Cubes

Rory's Story Cubes, $7, Amazon

Available in original, genre-specific, and licensed character varieties, Rory's Story Cubes are a great way to avoid writer's block by giving your story progression up to chance.

'The Writer's Toolbox' by Jamie Cat Callan

The Writer's Toolbox, $19, Amazon

With oodles of writing prompts, exercises, and other resources, The Writer's Toolbox makes an excellent edition to your writing space, whether you're a plotter or a pantser.

'Writer Emergency Pack' by John August

Writer Emergency Pack, $19, Amazon

This deck of 52 cards will save you whenever you find you've written yourself into a corner. The Writer Emergency Pack gives you new narrative spins and strategies to try, so pick up a deck and hit refresh on your writing.

'The Writer's Block' by Jason Rekulak

The Writer's Block, $12, Amazon

Written by The Impossible Fortress author Jason Rekulak, The Writer's Block contains 786 exercises and inspirations from master classes in fiction writing.

The Storymatic Classic

The Storymatic Classic, $30, Amazon

This deck with "trillions of combinations" can help you craft new characters and introduce plot twists just when you need them the most.

'Wonderbook' by Jeff VanderMeer

Wonderbook, $17, Amazon

Borne author Jeff VanderMeer's book on worldbuilding is fantastic for its content alone, but the amazing design and illustration may help spark a new idea for genre writers.

Good Openings

Good Openings, $15, Amazon

Another deck of 52 cards, Good Openings contains brief story starters that will help you out whenever you find yourself staring down a blank page.

'No Plot? No Problem!' by Chris Baty

No Plot? No Problem!, $13, Amazon

Written by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem! is a how-to guide for the November writing spree that will work for plotters and pantsers alike.