The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is only 17 days away and the internet is buzzing with people preparing to write, it’s a great time of year! This will be my second year being part of it, even though last year I had to drop out pretty early into the month due to some personal reasons, but this year I’m already starting to think about what to write, characters to write about, and interesting places I can create. I will be tracking my NaNoWriMo adventure here on my blog, but let’s take an opportunity to look more at what it is and I’ll also give you some tips on preparing your ideas and even a few for keeping up with the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.
With that out of the way, I’d like to give a few tips on how to get ready for November.
Create a working outline and details of what goes on.
I”m not a big fan of outlining, but when you’re trying to write so much in such a short period of time, you need to have at least some idea of where the story starts, where it goes, and where it ends. You should have your main characters and any mechanics fleshed out. For me, this included explaining why the planet my story takes place on is the way it is and how the “magic” works. A lot of what I wrote down will never be seen by anyone but me, but it sure will help come time for me to sit down and actually write.
Remember, you don’t have to stick to the outline once you start writing! I always say that a story is a living, breathing thing that is ever changing and you should let it change. A forced story is often times a bad story but there is nothing wrong with having an idea of where it’ll go. Don’t spend too much time on the outline, of the story itself, concentrate on the details of the world and characters around it.
Plan Your Words
Trying to reach the 50k words in 30 days means you’ll be writing at an average speed of 1667 words a day, so what I mean by planning your words is actually to plan out the time you have to write in November. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not as easy as you may think. You should take a look at the month as a whole and mark down days you know that you will have little to no time to write.
For example, my brother is getting married and having two ceremonies on the 2nd and 4th of November, right at the start. I know both days I won’t be able to write so that already puts me behind so that will already put me behind by over 3300 words! To make up for this, I either have to set my goal at 1785 words a day all month or, what I prefer, spend a day or two trying to reach the 4000-word mark. If you can do this periodically throughout the month, especially in the early days, you will be less stressed overall.
Write In One Place
I don’t mean physically write in one place, but keep all your information together in a single program. I just started using Scrivener to do my writing and finding that it’s well worth the $40 cost. Without going into too much detail on why Scrivener is worth it to writers of all types, I’ll just say that I can keep my novel well organized with all the notes, concepts, outlines, and any other resources of any file type in the same place! This can be even more valuable if you’re writing a story based in any part on actual events or actual places because of all of your resources, be it pictures, maps, pdf files, or anything else, are just one click away and you can view them in the same window as your writing! There is a free trial that offers 30 days of use. This is 30 actual days, meaning you have to open the program on 30 different days for the trial to run out. This is perfect for someone who just wants to use it for NaNoWriMo!
Don’t know if you want to spend the $40 or worry about the trial running out? There are alternatives, although less useful. Google Drive, which I’ll talk about more in the next section, is another great way to keep all of your files in one place. Just create a folder on Drive and use subfolders much as you would in Scrivener. The best part about it is the built-in office-like suite and instant-save!
But Write “On The Cloud”
A lot of people don’t like the cloud. I get it, it’s new and there’s a lot unknown about the logistics One thing that it does that makes this a tool that everyone, even non-writers, should have is the ability to view, write, read, or review from anywhere. Services like DropBox and Google Drive offer instant sync that automatically updates your cloud every time a file is altered, along with any computers currently on and connected to the internet all for free.
I recommend Google Drive for a few reasons. The first is the one I mentioned above, a built-in office-like suite. This is great for a free alternative to Office and has many of the features you find in a full-fledged word processor. The downside to this is that formatting often gets off and it’s hard to fix.
If you’re using Scrivener, just save your project into your cloud folder for ease and instant updates across all of your devices! And when I say all of your devices, I mean all of them! If you’re using a known format like Word, you can even access these files on your smartphone or tablet! Unfortunately, at this time there is no scrivener mobile viewer, but hopefully, something like this will come one day.
Participate In a Write-In
Write-ins are simply a group of people who are all participating in NaNoWriMo who sit around, chat, throw out ideas, write, and just encourage each other in general. This is probably the biggest tip I give you, find a group to write with. They are all over and you can usually find one nearby on the official forums! If not, consider trying to start one! You never know who is in your area that is just waiting for someone else to initiate it!
A group of people can give you the confidence you need to keep going. My biggest problem last year was that after the first week, I was behind a few thousand words and I gave up. If you have that support, this is much less likely to happen and you are more likely to succeed!
There you have it, a few quick and simple tips to preparing for NaNoWriMo! Of course, there are a lot more little things you could do, like create a playlist of your favorite writing music, follow a routine, look for inspiration everywhere, don’t let a bad day of writing pull you down, or any other number of tips, but chances are if you’re participating in this event, you already know these things!
Good luck to you and Happy Writing!