Get author branding and book marketing tips straight to your inbox

#NaNoPrep: Character Sheet (FREE download!)

#NaNoPrep: Character Sheet (FREE download!), #NaNoWriMo #Writing

This week I've been working on character sheets for the main characters in my NaNoWriMo novel in preparation for the November challenge.

I'm hoping that having a file on hand with all their basic details will help make writing the novel easier. 

Creating character sheets is definitely a good way to get to know your characters a bit. I didn't want to overload them though. I'd found numerous examples on the internet but they all seemed like too much. Maybe it's just me but I like my characters to surprise me along the way too. It makes writing the story more fun, and helps give it that natural flow. 

I decided the best thing to do was to make my own character sheets with just enough information. All the basic, important stuff, without going over board. The file is in fact only 2 pages long. 

As you guys are fab enough to follow me here, I've decided to share my character sheet with you... for FREE so you can use it too. 

If you find it useful, please send others here so they can grab a copy too. I've even made a click to tweet to make sharing super easy:

#NaNoPrep: Character Sheet (FREE download!), #NaNoWriMo #Writing

Do you prefer basic character sheets like this one, or more detailed ones? Or do you just like your characters to build themselves as you go along?

November Challenge Prep: The Non Writing Stuff

November Challenge Prep: The Non Writing Stuff #NaNoPrep #NaNoWriMo #PiBoIdMo #WNFIN

November is fast approaching and so it's time to get organised. This year I'll be doing NaNoWriMo, PiBoIdMo, and WNFIN, so it's important to have a game plan.

Whilst I'm preparing for the challenges by plotting, making idea sheets, and doing some rough outlining, I also need to think about the non writing stuff.

In order to successfully complete these challenges I need a game plan for the other stuff. Stuff like food, staying healthy, keeping the house clean, keeping the kids busy, etc...

So let's break this down and look at each one at a time.


Eating is a must. I have two small kids and so takeaways or junk food are not an option. This also fits into the stay healthy category. Eating health food will not only protect from burn out, it also helps reduce the chances of catching the numerous colds, and other viruses that go around during November.

As time is also an issue I like to stock up on easy meals. 

- Lunches that can double up for dinners e.g. make extra meat and veg for lunch and use leftovers to make soup for dinner. 
- Pasta is a staple in our house (here in Italy it's a staple for most families). I make a load of ragu sauce and freeze potions, so I just have to heat it up in the microwave. Making extra pasta at lunch (where I eat it as a hot meal) and using the extra to make a pasta salad for dinner.
- Jacket potatoes. These are awesomely easy. Just stick in the microwave and have a variety of toppings on hand. 
- I love one pan meals. Risotto is a good one. Just mix up with different ingredients each time. 
- Having hams, cheeses, maybe some pickles, and bread/crackers is a good idea for those days when cooking is too much effort.
- Lots of fresh fruit for healthy snacking. 

Staying healthy

The first time I did the NaNoWriMo challenge I had to give up half way through. I got an evil cold that knocked me out for weeks. That taught me that a big part of winning the challenge was making sure I stayed healthy.

I'll no doubt be doing lots of sitting during November. It's therefore important to make sure I insert some exercise into my schedule too. The last time I did NaNoWriMo, I also did a fitness challenge at the same time. You can find loads of these on Pinterest. Squat challenge, crunch challenge, there's something for all tastes and levels. I'm going to use some of those I have saved to my fitness board to create a challenge schedule for November. I'm thinking something like 100 squats, 100 crunches, and 100 jumping jacks a day. The idea is to set an exercise goal to make sure your not just sitting around all day. I may also add going for a jog around the block at least once a week. Getting out in the fresh air is good for inspiration ;)

Keeping the house clean

As much as I'd love to forget about house work for a month it's just not possible. Clothes need to be washed, ironed, and put away. Plates, and more importantly cups need to be washed (can't not have cups for tea after all). 

I make sure I'm completely up to date with clothing before the challenge starts. This at least gives me a good start. 

I also do a deep clean of the house at the end of October. Cleaning the fridge, behind the sofa, and all those other jobs that don't need to be done daily. This means I can get by with more superficial cleaning during the challenge. I have a points system to get the kids to do some chores too ;)

Keeping the kids busy

Luckily the kids are both now at school full time so this year will be easier than in the past. I'll therefore be doing most of my writing in the morning and early afternoon. That will mean I can take a break in the evening and step away from my computer. Keeping a balance is a must... for everyone in the family. 

My kids love getting involved in the challenges I do though, so some things we do together. They are both awesome sounding boards for PiBoIdMo. Doing the fitness challenges together makes them so much more fun to do too... and helps the kids burn off some energy ;)

Getting out and about with the kids after school does us all good. A trip to the library can be awesome for getting new ideas, entertaining the kids, and sticking up on books and DVDs to keep them busy when we get back home. 

Other things I include in my preparations are hanging out with friends, and sleep.

Time with friends

November will be a super busy month with little free time. I therefore make sure I catch up with friends in October (and let them know my November plans so they know if they don't hear from me, they know why). 


Sleep is so important. It's really easy to get so wrapped up in the challenges and everything else that you forget how important it is to get enough sleep. Starting off well rested is a good idea. It's also a good idea to work in some nap time during November, and to make sure you don't have too many late nights.

One thing I make sure I do, is have a bubble bath night once a week. One evening, once the kids are in bed, I dedicate to pampering myself. A nice, long soak in a bubble bath. Maybe a face mask, manicure or pedicure, followed by an early night. It does wonders for restoring energy levels.

What non writing planning are you doing? Share your tips for November challenge survival in the comments section below.

#drawlloween days 6 and 7

Time for another Drawlloween update. 

Here's days 6 and 7:

#drawlloween day 6 Pumpkin, Jo Linsdell, #drawing #sketch #Halloween
Day 6 Pumpkin

#drawlloween day 7 haunted house, Jo Linsdell, #drawing #sketch #Halloween
Day 7 haunted house

You can connect with others doing the challenge in the DRAWLLOWEEN group on Facebook. 

You can find my illustrations for this challenge on InstagramPinterest, on Facebook, and of course, here on the blog. 

Other Drawlloween posts:

Days 1-3

Days 4-5 

Are you doing the challenge? Share the links to your illustrations in the comments section below.