By Jennifer Blanchard
Thirty-one days from tomorrow, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts.
For those of you who haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, you can read more about it here.
Simply put, NaNoWriMo is a crazy time when writers all over the world attempt the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
Starting at 12 a.m. on November 1 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on November 30, your goal is to write the first draft of your next (or first!) novel.
The main idea behind NaNoWriMo is output–quantity versus quality.
NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty, is a genius. He found a way to simplify the writing process and help writers give up procrastination by setting a short deadline.
And year after year, thousands of writers cross the 50,000-word finish line and call themselves NaNoWriMo winners.
For your novel to count toward your NaNoWriMo goal, however, you can only write it between November 1 and November 30.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the month of October to prep for it.
As you probably already know, the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to actually sit down and write (unless you are one of those writers who can sit down and start typing without any planning. If you are–congrats. Do what works for you.).
Here’s how I recommend you get ready for NaNoWriMo:
- Create a Plan–As a writer who can’t just sit down and start typing, I need a plan. I need to plot out my story to have a basic idea of where I need to be by the end of each chapter. If you’re like me, then you will love Holly Lisle’s free Create a Plot Clinic. This short, but effective, guide to creating a plot for your novel will get you on the right track for November 1.
- Get to Know Your Characters–One of the best ways to prep for NaNoWriMo is to get to know your main characters. You can use the character structure discussed in this post onbuilding complex characters to get you started. Or if you want to dig in a little deeper (since you have an entire month of prep time), you might want to check out Create A Character Clinic, by Holly Lisle. This hands-on book helped me make the main character in my first novel well-rounded and complete. I highly recommend it.
- Get Familiar with Your Daily Word Count–In order to hit 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to write–at minimum–1,667 words each day. Before you get too overwhelmed by that number, thou, you should check out exactly what 1,667 words looks like. It’s about 4 pages, single-spaced. Not too bad.
- Clear Your Schedule–In order to write 1,667 words a day, you’ll need to set aside between one and two hours of your time, depending on how long it takes you to write four pages. You may need more or less time. Just be sure to squeeze at least an hour of writing time into your schedule everyday. And on days when you have extra time, write more words. That way you’re ahead of schedule if something pops up that’s beyond your control.
- Read No Plot? No Problem!, by Chris Baty–This 176-page NaNoWriMo guide book is a quick read and has lots of tips for staying on track. It also includes a week-by-week overview to getting your novel written. It’s a great tool for all NaNoWriMo-ers, but especially for first-time NaNoWriMo-ers. I just finished reading it for the second time last weekend.
For the month of October, I’m going to be bringing you weekly posts to get you prepped for NaNoWriMo. Here’s what the schedule looks like:
- Week One (Oct. 5-9)–Plotting: All the tools, tips and resources you need to plot your NaNoWriMo novel.
- Week Two (Oct. 12-16)–Characters: Meeting your main characters and getting to know them.
- Week Three (Oct. 19-23)–Scheduling Writing Time: Tools, tips and resources for getting your schedule NaNo-ready.
- Week Four (Oct. 26-30)–Final NaNoWriMo Prep: Motivational tips to get you moving on your NaNo-novel.
Stick with me, Procrastinators…the completion of your first novel is just around the corner.
Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo? How did you do?
Also, if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, be sure to come back tomorrow and sign up for my 30 Days of NaNoWriMo Tips for Procrastinating Writers e-mail newsletter.
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.