The holidays are here again – and I don’t mean Halloween and Thanksgiving! I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Every year I intend to participate, but the daunting task of writing a whole novel in the month of November gets the better of me and I chicken out.
This year, my fantastic editor here at Pencils suggested I do some prep work beforehand so I don’t feel so overwhelmed on November 1st and write a post about it, so here are my recommendations for preparing for NaNoWriMo:
1. Gather your supplies.
If you like to write longhand like these famous authors, make sure you have a supply of pencils and notebooks handy. Buying some new ones will also motivate you to get down to business – just like how dragging yourself to the gym is a little easier when you get to wear your new running shoes.
2. Think about your story.
This serves two purposes – getting prepared to write it, and getting excited to write it! I have found that my morning commute is my optimum thinking time, so I’ve started using that hour to dream up characters, settings, and plot twists.
3. Tell a friend.
If you’ve read my other posts, you probably know I have a thing for accountability. The more people you tell that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, the more people will expect a finished product on November 30th. You may even inspire some people to participate with you. As for me, I’m telling YOU!
Successful authors from Stephen King to Anne Lamott all say that the more you read, the better you’ll write. Pick up a book by your favorite author to study their technique and get inspired.
5. Make a plan.
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally work best with a little bit of structure. Figure out how much time you can set aside on which days to work on your novel, and start figuring out how much you’ll need to get done each week.
6. Take some notes.
Jot down advice from your authorial role models, names you love for your characters, and even that awesome plot twist you came up with in the shower last night. If what you’re writing requires research, hit the books (or Wikipedia). Lay a solid foundation now that you can build on next month.
7. Scope out your workspace(s).
There’s nothing wrong with your desk at home, but when you’re facing the dreaded writer’s block, it helps to get a change of scenery. Start scoping out local coffee shops, cafes, parks, libraries, etc. to find environments that are conducive to making your creativity flow.
8. Cut down on distractions.
Get as much work off your desk as possible (for me, that means starting my final papers now), run those nagging errands you’ve been putting off, and stock up on snacks. Anything you could use to procrastinate with, get it done now so you have no excuses next month.
If any of you out there are NaNoWriMo veterans and have some tips to share, please do so in the comments! The more guidance we first-timers have, the better!