With just a few days to go until November 1st (the official start date of NaNoWriMo) writers everywhere are physically and mentally preparing themselves for the most well-loved writing challenge in the world.
Just in case you didn’t know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an international writing event in which writers set themselves the task of writing a book (50,000 words) in just 30 days! As can be expected from any challenge of this size/difficulty, NaNoWriMo requires preparation — and lots of it. If you haven’t started, don’t panic. There’s still time. Here’s what you need to do to prep for success:
Generally, the aim throughout the month is to hit a daily word count of 1,666 words – but let’s be honest. Life often gets in the way of our goals. Look at your diary and make a note of any scheduled events that may prevent you from hitting your daily word count. Then look elsewhere in your calendar for another day/afternoon/hour in which you will most likely be able to make up for that lost time.
For example, at the end of November, I have two article deadlines. This means in the final week of NaNoWriMo I have 1-2 days in which I likely won’t have the time or energy to write my novel. I have, therefore, increased my word count target in the first week of NaNoWriMo to 2,000 words.
The time of day (morning/afternoon/night) you find you are most creative is referred to as your creative genius. Even if you are new to writing, chances are you have a good idea of when you are most productive. Perhaps it’s first thing in the morning, right after you wake up. Or, maybe it’s in the evening, once the rest of your family has gone to bed. Whatever time it is, try to schedule as much of your writing time as possible during these periods.
Clean Writing Space
You sit down, open your laptop, poise your hands over the keyboard when suddenly, you notice something out of the corner of your eye: A dirty cup, a miscellaneous pile of mess or a stack of notebooks. You tell yourself you will not be able to focus on writing until you have put away those clothes, washed that cup or organised those notebooks. So, you get up, close your laptop and begin pottering about. You think you are being productive (in one sense you are) but in actuality, you have procrastinated.
Sound familiar? Don’t let this habit beat you in November. Tidy your house, room, desk or writing area now.
The writing community is a wonderful place — it’s full of inspiring, motivational and wonderful people who are ready and waiting to give advice, writing tips and support you on your writing journey.
You can connect with other NaNoWriMo participant through the NaNoWriMo website or Facebook groups. Many of these groups arrange meetups, where writers get together at their local coffee shop and write for a few hours.
Alternatively, you can join in on the many writing sprints that writers host on Instagram and Twitter. During writing sprints, writers aim to write as many words as they can within short bursts (usually between 15-30 mins). These are great to participate in when you need to up your word count quickly — their fun, motivational and can often unleash your competitive spirit.
NaNoWriMo is predominantly about speed. The words don’t have to be perfect (in fact, they will undoubtedly be far from perfect) you just have to get them on the page. To do this within the 30 days of NaNoWriMo you will need an outline for your novel. The last thing you want to do is sit down on November 1st and stare at a blank page, unable to think of a story to write about.
Even if you are lucky enough to get the first few thousand words down by winging it, sooner or later you will run out of steam and fall victim to writer’s block. Trust me. I’ve been there.
Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?