signs point to yes header

Swoon Author Sandy Hall: Book Planning for Pros – The Importance of Office Supplies

It’s October! Which means my second book, Signs Point to Yes, comes out in just a few weeks. 

But it also means that it’s time to plan for NaNoWriMo! I like to take some time before I get started with my next plot just to make sure I have all the necessary supplies.

I currently have three bins under my bed full of notebooks, index cards, post-its, pens, markers, binders, and who knows what else. It’s like I’m preparing for some kind of office supply drought. (The reality is that I like to buy things during the back-to-school sales. I can’t say no to a fifteen-cent folder or a twenty-five cent notebook.)

There are always some items that I use far more than others. And there are definitely key supplies that I need when planning a novel.

First of all, I’m very picky about pens. 


The one on the bottom I consider my “lucky black pen.” It no longer has ink in it but I keep it due to my own personal and bizarre superstitions. Please try not to judge me. I signed my first book contract with it; it has sentimental value! The one on top was purchased to replace my “lucky black pen” and while I love it, it doesn’t quite have that same vintage feel as my old “lucky black pen.”

For general planning purposes, I like to use these pens: 

moar pens

They’re a delightful rainbow of ink! At some point in the planning I almost always print out a spreadsheet where I plug in notes and scene summaries. I like to use all different colors on those handwritten spreadsheets so I can see as I transition from one scene to the next.

The most recent project I’ve been working on I decided to try something new. My favorite Staples had multicolor binder paper on clearance recently so I bought several reams:


Having different colored paper for each scene and point of view makes it really easy to keep track as I go through my planning. And really, what is binder paper if not simple HUGE index cards? But don’t worry guys, I still used index cards to plan. I’m nothing without them. To be able to lay them out on the floor or table and look at the grand scheme of the plot is invaluable to me.

Look at the cute colors I used this time!

index cards

Finally, for the way I plan, I can never go wrong with having lots of post-its. They’re great for marking my place or adding additional thoughts without cramming the margins with a lot of scribble that’s impossible to read. The lined ones are my favorite, but really any old post-it will do.

post its

In conclusion, there is a 75 to 80 percent chance that this blog was just a good excuse to set up a photo shoot for my favorite office supplies. 

No, but seriously, I do hope it got some of your juices flowing and if nothing else got you excited to start planning a new project!

Swooners, how are you gearing up for NaNoWriMo? Share your prep plans in the comments!

Author spotlight

Sandy Hall


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