Preparing For NaNoWriMo
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.
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 nanowrimo.org 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.
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.
If 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.
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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.