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Preparing For NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo (logo large)How can it be less than a month until November? It seems like only yesterday that it was summer and yet November conjures images of cold nights, frosty mornings, fireworks and most importantly, NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month has long been a fixed event in writers’ diaries as professional and amateur alike gather for a month of serious word count. Whether you are looking to bash out a first draft of your latest published novel, or fancy the challenge of attempting to write your first 50,000 words, the process can be a little daunting. Therefore, if you’re looking to take part this year, you need to spend your October preparing.

Here are some ideas of things you can do in October to best prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.

Sign Up

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But if you’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, the thought of the challenge can feel a little overwhelming. How many words? In how long? Signing up at the site is a commitment to yourself that you’re serious about this.

However, there’s far more to do than simply choose a username and password. There’s a profile to fill out, an avatar to upload. From October the 5th you can also start to fill in some details about the novel you intend to write, including the ability to upload a cover.

It’s important that you take the time to choose your home region. This isn’t always obvious and in some parts of the world finding a region that’s actually local can be difficult. But more often than not you’ll find that a region exists for your county or state. Not only will you be able to see if there are events happening close to where you live, but you’ll also have the opportunity to get to know local writers going through the same experience and worries as yourself.

Whilst you’re at it, check the wider forums, where people from all around the world come together to offer advice and comradery. The site also has a ton of resources to help you out with your planning, including pep talks from some of your favourite writers.

But most of all, get excited. You’ve committed to a wonderful challenge and whilst it’s going to be tough, with the right prep you’ll be toasting your own success come December 1st.

Clear Your Schedule

Writing 50,000 words is hard. Writing 50,000 words in a month, even for professional writers who do this as a full-time job, is pretty tough. Do not underestimate the commitment this is going to need. By the third week you’ll be wandering around half dazed, the world of your story seeming more real than the one around you.

NaNoWriMo (2012)It’s one month out of the year so do yourself a favour and tell your friends that the usual social plans will have to have a month off. With Xmas looming, nobody’s going to complain about having a socially lean month. And the 30 days will go by quicker than you think.

NaNoWriMo works on the principle that you need to write 1667 words a day to make the 50,000 total by the end of the month. By breaking that target down into a daily total it becomes a little easier. However, if you do get behind it can feel so much harder to catch up. So do yourself a favour and if you do have commitments during the month when you can’t write, sit down now with a calculator and work out what you’ll need to set as your daily total. Don’t just promise yourself that you’ll catch up because you’ll just find yourself falling further and further behind.

If, like many of us, your boss is moaning that you need to use up unused holiday before the end of the year, NaNoWriMo can be the perfect excuse. Either try and take it early in the month when you are fresh and keen so you can blast ahead of schedule or save it for the last week when you might be lagging behind a little.

Get important house tasks done in October. If the spare bedroom needs painting before your great aunty comes to stay at Xmas, get it done in October so you have minimal disruptions during November.

Also agree with family your writing time for the month. You’ll probably need a couple of hours a night depending on how quick you write, although splitting it into four half hours chunks throughout the day is often more beneficial than it at first seems. Agree that during those times you’re not to be disturbed unless the house really is burning down…and even then think twice. Loved ones probably won’t understand how tiring and difficult NaNoWriMo is, so save arguments later by having those discussions beforehand.

Make Contact

NaNo Participant 2014If your home region is having a kick-off event or prep sessions during October, try and make the time to go along. Not only is it affirming to meet real people going through all the same worries and excitement as yourself, these people will prove a great support network in the month ahead. I know of many NaNo groups where people have remained firm friends long after November.

Going through the social anxiety of meeting new people now will make it easier to go along to meetups during November. These will provide you with advice, moral support and collective enthusiasm.

Plan Your Novel

Some people think that to ‘win’ at NaNoWriMo you have to start on November 1st with no idea or plan of what to write. Those people rarely win.

Create a document or get a notebook, and during October, write down every idea you have, no matter how unconnected it might seem. Bookmark interesting articles and think of cool scenes or pieces of dialogue. Steal from everything, everywhere and over the weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo you’ll start to see ideas come together, pieces of dialogue turn into scenes.
Whether you are naturally a pantser or a plotter, going in armed with a bunch of ideas is going to be to your benefit.

And if you want to spend October coming up with a story split into 30 distinct chapters, not only will no-one complain, but you’ll find knowing what to write each day so much easier.

Above all, have fun. Whether you only manage 30,000 words or write the entire first 200,000 word draft of your epic fantasy, the important thing is that you’re writing. NaNoWriMo is certainly a challenge, but the reason so many people come back to it year after year is that it can be an incredibly enjoyable experience.

So what are you waiting for? Get prepping; November isn’t very far away.

NaNoWriMo (participant banner 2015)

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Editor’s Note

This year Fantasy-Faction is setting up a group open to any of our readers participating in NaNoWriMo who are writing a genre novels (fantasy, science fiction, horror) both adult and YA.

Those who sign up will be invited into a Secret Facebook Group and an IRC Channel. The aim is to offer a support network and to keep as many people on the bandwagon as possible. Additionally, it would be great if we could help make some life-long friendships.

If you would like to join in please leave a comment here with a brief summary of the novel that you will be working on.

We plan to open the group up on October 14th so that users can begin chatting and talking about their plot before November 1st.



  1. Avatar G R Matthews says:

    I’ll be Nano’ing this year… I need a new T-Shirt.

    And I’ll be writing a sequel to the spectacularly successful Silent City! Sci-Fi set underwater!

    Feel free to find it on Amazon or about it on my website (shameless plugging of book 1!)

  2. Avatar Tara S. Trask says:

    I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. This will be my third year, I believe, at trying. I have not reached 50,000 words so far. I will be working on the novel that I started with the first year I participated, but I have learned a lot in these past couple of years and have been working this last month and this month to have the plot ready for November.

    Brief Summary of my fantasy story: When a young woman flees an abusive marriage after uncovering her husband’s deception, she finds herself whisked away to a magical land where she must overcome her fears and determine who she really is.

    Let’s just say there are bandits, pirates, and thieves involved, oh my! As well as the usual magic types. I’m ready to write!

  3. Avatar Kelly says:

    I am determined to join this year, though i don’t know whether to carry on with the novel that i’m struggling with, or try something new in the hopes of getting the writing juices flowing again.

  4. Avatar Philip Norris says:

    I did put my name in the hat when Marc posted about this on Facebook.

    I’m in and planning a secondary world fantasy with a twist that I plan to seed throughout the story but not reveal (my initial outlay is for four books) There are no elves or dwarves.

  5. Avatar Gideon says:

    Hi there,
    This will be my first attempt at NaNoWriMo as for the first time I won’t be bogged down by final exams!!!
    I’ve signed up under the username of “dotkiddo”

    My idea in (very) short: I want to write a coming of age story set in a world where necromancy is a very prominent and prestigious practice.
    As for the actual story, well now, that’s what this months preparing is all about 🙂
    Super excited to begin!!

    Love to the community,
    Gideon Scheepers

  6. Avatar Jennette says:

    I’m j2starshine over at NaNoWriMo, and I will be working on a novella that I have been stuck on for the past couple of years. But I need to get it done. It’s a fantasy with star-crossed lovers among the dwarves set in my existing fantasy world with a little court intrigue as two clans attempt to unify.

    May this November be the month!

  7. Avatar Victoria Hooper says:

    Sounds like a fun group! 🙂 I’m going to try NaNoing this year. I don’t have a blurb/summary of the book to give you yet, but it’s a secondary world fantasy with magic, warlocks and demons.

  8. Avatar Ian says:

    I’ll be writing NaNoWriMo this year (my username is iandaking) with a high fantasy novel about a world that is slowly losing its magic and being taken over by monsters.

    Hope to see you all there and best of luck to everyone!

  9. Avatar Dave Ellis says:

    I’m ellisdt82 on Nanowrimo, I’ve tried a number of years but never finished, got the closest last year with 17,000 words, but I was pantsing and did not like the direction I took.

    Going to have a bit of a plan this year and do another attempt. My idea is a spy novel set in a high medieval world, with a magic system powered by memories.

    I’d like to join in the discussion.

  10. Avatar Bridgit O'Connell says:

    I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I’m working out the plot on a book about an alien who becomes caught up in
    government plots and refugee rescuing on her home planet. It is filled with family tension and action. I’m really looking forward to starting to write. (Although I am planning and worldbuilding right now, which is also a lot of fun, if a bit frustrating and tiring.) I hope I can find some people to share my frustrations with and find people more seasoned to give me good advice. (My username is bribri287)

  11. Avatar J Rogers says:

    This will be my first year attempting the task after a few years of tip-toeing around it! I already have a story in mind which I have been planning over the last month (I’m a total story boarder – plan every detail before writing a word, kind of writer… which is mostly why I usually avoid NaNo month). But after a few dry spells I’m hoping that committing to this will help kick start the story.

    My idea is an alternative future / post apocalyptic event where the remaining population are trying to organize a sustainable society. With some sci-fi, fantasy and mystery elements linked in.

    Good luck, I know I’ll be needing some.

  12. Avatar Brian says:

    This will be my third attempt at NaNoWriMo. I reached 20k last year and will be attempting a larger novel this year after finishing last years a few weeks late.

    I have more time to write this year than last and my family knows what I plan on doing.

    I would like to join the discussions.

  13. Avatar Jon Anton Steinhagen says:

    I will be participating this year with THE FLIGHTS ON SCURRY FLATS, which has just about everything mixed into it – fantasy, horror, a steampunky sort of alternate sci fi – three sisters in 1890s American devise a flying machine but, when testing it in a remote spot in the Outer Banks, encounter a strange town built on fear of a possibly mythical winger creature living just beyond the sound.

  14. I’m working on a ghost story this year, mostly post apocalyptic. I normally write fantasy so this is a change up for me. If for some crazy reason I falter I will fall back on my fantasy series.

    This is my third time participating in Nanowrimo. The first time I did it by myself, pantsing the whole way. I failed miserably. Last year I did a lot of planning and while I won, I had a writing meltdown when I hit my first snag and couldn’t stick to the plan. The only thing that saved me from stopping was the writing community I forced myself to get involved with. I’m all about being around other writers now.

    This time I’m doing a little planning and letting my muse take me where it will from there.

    My Nanowrimo username is ksimp38

  15. Avatar Kristina says:

    I’ve been debating whether I actually have the time, but I’ll be participating in NaNo this year, too. My username on the NaNo site is volatilesublime. I’ll be working on Burn My Shadow, the follow-up to the novel I worked on last year. Diana, my protagonist, warily accepts that she has some kind of demon-slaying power, but what does it mean? Where did it come from? And what will the hidden magical factions in (and perhaps beyond) her hometown do to turn her to their side?

  16. Avatar Alex Bradshaw says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m psyched to have everyone from this awesome site around this time 🙂

    I’ve tried NaNoWriMo a couple of times before, my first attempt was an epic failure as I was trying to write something else at the same time, and my second attempt got abandoned because it turned into a different story than I originally pitched it to myself which meant writing it was like getting blood out of a stone.

    Anyway, this year I’ve got an idea I’m excited about, a good plan, and a good community so I’m really looking forward to it!

    My username is AlexBradshaw (I know, I’m so creative!)

    • Avatar Alex Bradshaw says:

      Sorry! I forgot the summary of the novel I’m working on now!

      Add Brimstone To Taste: Jericho is a demon who just wants to be a baker but when he finally has the opportunity to prove his culinary skills he discovers his superiors have other plans for him. Jericho will have to find a way to survive in the Mortal Realm without giving away his true nature, all the while trying to create the perfect chocolate cake!

  17. Avatar Brittany Smith says:

    Hi everyone,

    Every year, I attempt NaNoWriMo, but I never come close to the 50,000 word goal. Last year, I managed to write 15,000 words towards the end of the month. But this year, I swear, will be different!

    I’m still working out the kinks in my story, but the main idea is this girl finds out she has superpowers and her powers are influenced by the type of music she listens to (ex. listening to rap/hip-hop will make her stronger, while listening to dubstep will make her more energetic). That’s about as far as I’ve gotten in terms of planning, but I hope to have more planned out by November 1st.

    My NaNoWriMo username is hgtv_fanatic19. (oh how I wish I could change that). Good luck to everyone this November!

  18. Avatar Caleb Ross says:

    Hello all,

    This is a great set of tips for preparing for next month. I have attempted NaNoWriMo a few times, but due to my school commitments I’ve never been really good at keeping up the necessary pace. This year, however, I’ve got no school commitments so I’m looking forward to actually going through with it.

    This year, my novel is one that I’ve been planning for ages. It’s a Fantasy Adventure in the vein of Treasure Island and it focuses on a young artificer who ran away from an arranged marriage and finds herself involved in a hunt for the mythical Midnight Gate.

  19. Avatar ArhiX says:

    NaNoWriMo will be a great reason to finally put all of my notes to use. It will be hard to write so many words for me (university, compulsive gaming addiction, drugs, funny cat pictures etc.)… but I hope I will be motivated enough to “win” it, even though it’s my first time attending to NaNoWriMo.

    So my main idea for now is to write about events that are considred mythological and ancient in my fantasy world. No humans, elves or any other humanoids. Only a history of one of the ancient (not so ancient back then) beings figthting in an ancient (ancient even then) war to try and save her race from utter extermination.
    And because I’m going to be half – pantsing it will be a great opportunity for me to discover something new about this world.

    My NaNoWriMo user name is “ArhiX Mizantropia vel Shadow Within”. (I think I won something). Good Luck and Have Fun! Or at least try to have it, because I think I will be suffering. :F

  20. Avatar Corrigan Phoenix says:

    Sign me up to the NaNo group! I’m a two-time NaNo participant (and winner both times), and have since turned my hand to short stories. Now I’ve got two short stories published, two more to be published later in October, and another thirteen or so accepted and awaiting publishing. Since I managed my goal of being able to write short stories and sell them, I’m after the big cheese – writing a full novel that people want to read!

    My novel this year isn’t fully planned or conceptualised yet – all I know is that I’m writing a fantasy novel, and I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from Asia. No, not Samurais and Ninjas, but actual diverse Asia. Yes the Japan/Koreas/China area, but also the Arab lands, India, the Phillipine/Vitenam/Thailand areas. I have an opening scene decided, and that’s it so far.

    I’m still a member of my local region (Lancashire & Cumbria), but I use this site as a reference tool so much, I’d love to be part of the secret Fantasy Faction NaNo group!

  21. […] Editor’s Note: Fantasy-Faction is also running a super, secret Facebook group for anyone writing a genre story for this year’s NaNoWriMo. You can learn more at the bottom of this article. […]

  22. Avatar Matt says:

    Hi, my name is Matthew. I am planning on participating this year with a semi post apocalyptic urban fantasy I’ve been world building (mostly in my head) for about a year. At its heart it’s a story about a young man trying to save his familly, set on our Earth after Magic returns and the world has drastically changed into a realm of Wizards and magic and monsters and humanity trying to find its new normal.

    I have a long vacation planned at the end of the month so I have doubts I can actually “win”, but I still want to try! I’d like to join the Facebook group to keep me motivated.


  23. Avatar MT Vukovich says:

    Hello guys. I plan on participating too and hopefully finish or at least write a huge chunk of a dystopian novel called “This Forsaken Planet”. Hope we can help each other and especially to bully or at least force me to achieve this. 🙂

  24. Avatar Candace says:

    I’m doing the NaNo this year. Not too sure about the story I’ll be writing as it is still in its infancy at the moment with no character names; only a theme and a basic plot. It will be a fantasy novel (as per normal for me) with lots of different things in the background.

  25. Avatar Ashley says:

    I also didn’t win Nano last year, but I waited until October 31 decide what I wanted to do so hopefully this year will go a bit better as I started earlier. I’m still in the pre-writing stages of my story but it’s a fantasy novel that takes place in a walled city that’s about to be enveloped in a war with between its two neighboring countries. It centers on an inn waitress who overhears a plot to destroy a magic relic that’s being used in the war and she decides to run away with them to sabotage it.

  26. Avatar Chloe says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Sign me up please. I participated last year but didn’t win. Time to try again. I’m continuing with a novel I started last year, and have been writing on and off since. It is fantasy that borders on traditional, character driven rather than event driven, and basically set in the Yorkshire Moors.

  27. Avatar Adelaide says:

    I will be writing the third installment in my series, The World of Evendaar. I don’t have a title yet as the work is not yet ready to be named but I find this challenge of Nano an intriguing one. The book will continue the lives of the characters in Evendaar and I will hopefully work a lot harder on my world building. Best of luck to everyone.

  28. […] NaNoWriMo begins this weekend and I recently did this article for Fantasy-Faction on prepping for the big event.  Be sure to check it out. […]

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