November is nearly here, and with it NaNoWriMo, the yearly event where us writers all go a little mad and attempt to write 50,000 words in a month.
It’s an amazing event to take part in, but let’s face it: it’s hard. 1,667 words a day might not sound like a lot on surface, but every day for an entire month…that’s a lot of words, and a lot of time you have to dedicate whilst normal life goes on around it.
I know from experience that it’s so easy to become derailed halfway through the month, and it can start as simply as missing a single day. However, I’ve also successfully completed NaNoWriMo a couple of times, and for me, the secret is preparation.
The times I failed were the times I went into it last minute with little to no preparation, and I very quickly lost steam and fell behind. However with proper preparation it was much easier to stay on track, and it was so much less stressful!
So here’s a few of my top tips on how you can prepare for NaNoWriMo, and give yourself the best chance of success (and less stress!):
The best thing you can do to prepare yourself to NaNoWriMo is to already know exactly what you’ll be writing. A lot of people (all you pantsers!) may resist the idea of outlining, and I guess if it isn’t your style, that’s fine. But making it up as you go along is the easiest way to get stuck and destroy your motivation.
That’s why I always create an outline of the project I’ll be writing ahead of time. My own outline is pretty in-depth – it includes all the main beats of the story, as laid out in Jessica Brody’s amazing book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel – but you could just jot down a few major plot points. Anything as long as you know where your story is heading!
Get to know your characters.
I also try to get to know my characters a bit before NaNoWriMo. After all, I’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and it’s much easier to start writing when I already have their voices down.
I usually do this by creating brief character profiles and by writing little short stories from their perspective.
Do your research.
Some novel projects are going to involve minimal research, but others will require a lot, and it’s best to get that out of the way beforehand. Research is time consuming, so you don’t want to be using your precious NaNoWriMo writing time looking up random obscure facts!
Create a schedule.
Another good way to get ahead with NaNoWriMo is to create a schedule of when you’re going to write throughout the month. Setting aside specific time means it’s less likely you’ll keep putting it off until later, which often leads to not doing it at all…believe me, I know from experience!
This schedule can also include any events you have going on throughout the month, that might get in the way of writing. So if you know there’s a day you’re going to have to miss, you should figure out how you plan to catch up.
Get ahead on other tasks.
It’s also a good idea to get ahead of yourself on non-writing related tasks before the beginning of November, so that other things don’t get in your way. For example, I have this blog, so I try and write at least a few posts ahead of time so that I don’t have to spend as much time writing posts during November. This gives me more time to work on my NaNoWriMo project.
It’s also a good idea to work on getting inspired before NaNoWriMo, as a loss of motivation is one of the easiest ways to get off track. This can be done in so many ways: you could set up a writing playlist, create a Pinterest board or even physical board for your novel, or even just read as many books as possible for inspiration.
You basically want to be as excited at possible to get to work on your project, and hopefully it will carry you through to November 30th!
So how do you prepare for NaNoWriMo? What are you going to be working on this year?