National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place in November of every year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you've ever considered writing a novel, there's no better time than now. Don't feel overwhelmed. You've got this. Here are nine ways to get ready for writing your novel during NaNoWriMo.
1. Find out if you're a plotter or a pantser.
If you're unfamiliar with these terms, a "plotter" is a writer who outlines extensively beforehand. People who are plotters usually know exactly where their story is headed before they even start writing it. A "pantser" is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, letting the characters guide the story.
If you're a plotter, it's time to get started. The more time you give yourself to create an outline or a game plan, the better off you'll be. If you're a pantser, it doesn't mean you can't come up with a plan, too. In fact, you should. At least have a general idea of what you want to work on -- whether that's a character idea or plot idea. As a pantser, you have to at least know where to start.
And if you're neither of these, you might just be a hybrid. It doesn't matter how you define your writing style, the point is that you just need to define it so you can work within the writing process you've created for yourself.
2. Read in the genre you're going to write.
Generally, the more you read, the better equipped you are to write. With that in mind, read within the genre you're planning on writing for NaNoWriMo. Read both the classics in that genre and books that have been recently published. Both are important to give you a well-rounded knowledge and familiarity with the genre.
3. Outline or give the book idea a great deal of thought.
Now that you know whether you're a pantser or a plotter, make that outline or think a lot about what you want to accomplish. Make sure you're ready to write the book when November hits. Get as much of the brainstorming and planning out of the way in October because then you'll be able to fully focus on hitting that daily word count.
4. Make a game plan of how to use your time.
Your book idea is ready to be explored, but first you need to make a game plan for how you will use your time. Life is busy, so when will you be able to squeeze in time to write? For the past few years, I used my lunch break at work and my fifteen-minute breaks to pump out as many words as possible. You'd be surprised how much you can actually write when you have such a short time frame to work with. You'll feel that pressure and you won't let yourself get distracted.
Also consider waking up an hour earlier to get in some more words before you start your day. If that won't work for you, you could always stay up a half-hour to an hour later and fit it in.
Don't think that you have to schedule 3 hours at a time per day to hit your word count. Most people don't have that kind of schedule flexibility. Instead, focus on short bursts of productivity when you have the time.
5. Commit and share on social media.
There's just something about publicly committing to something. You'll feel more accountable and that means you won't let yourself slack. After all, people will be following up and asking you about it later. Commit to being able to give them the answer you want to give them - that you're right on track or ahead of the game.
6. Deal with distractions now.
Look ahead to November. What is going to come up that will distract you? Deal with those distractions now. Get ahead on deep cleaning so you only have to maintain in November. Or, will your car need an oil change in November? Get it in October instead and free up some of your time for writing. Do everything you can ahead of time.
7. Build up your inspiration.
Use Pinterest to collect images that inspire you. Or, maybe you like to write to music. Put together the perfect playlist before you begin writing your novel. Whatever inspires you, immerse yourself in it, and it's great to have it around when the dreaded writer's block hits, and it will hit.
8. Look forward to it. Don't dread it. It's only a month. You've got this.
It will be hard. It will be painful. You'll want to quit. You'll want to make it all go away. But remember that it's only a month. One month of tiring, excruciating work, and you'll have a novel! It's so worth it. You can do it!
9. Think of the end goal.
What are you going to get out of NaNoWriMo? If you can stay on track, you'll get a novel. So, that's something. But you know what else you'll get? You'll gain confidence, and now you can stop telling yourself that you could never write a novel. If you want to be a writer, guess what? You are. If you write, you're a writer. Simple as that.
If you're going to do it, become my NaNoWriMo buddy! Here's my profile: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/charlydaws
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.