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 just had another article published, and I'm ecstatic! I love Introvert, Dear. If you haven't discovered that site yet, now is the time! It's fantastic.
This article talks about my need for privacy during my infertility and pregnancy and how that correlates with my personality type. If you have a minute, take a gander. Thank you!
I've been enjoying getting back into the freelance game. I had one published recently, and then I just had another article accepted for a different publication, even though it won't be published until the end of the year. Needless to say, I'm been flying high on the excitement of it all.
A writing friend of mine gave me a good lead for a site. I decided to quickly write up an article - one that's been bouncing around in my head - to send for potential publication. But I made a mistake. I sent it. Too soon.
A part of me knew it when I sent it, but I talked myself into it, trying to get it down before the girls woke up to eat. An hour later, something popped into my mind. I used the wrong word in that article. My heart sank. I know better, and yet, here I am, in this situation.
I didn't send my best work, and I'm sick thinking about it. I was in a hurry to send it. But why? I could've waited until I let it sit for a day or two before I revisited it. But it's too late.
So what do I do now? I figure I have two options.
1. Lower my head and move on, hoping that somehow that email goes to spam and is never seen.
2. Write something much stronger and send it, hoping I haven't ruined the opportunity.
Now that I've made this mistake (again!), I hope I can remember to do better next time. So, learn from my mistake. Never send an article before it's ready. Remember, you only get one first impression.
It has been ages since I freelanced, and it feels fantastic to get back to it. It's like getting back to my roots. Click on the image above to read the article.
It is a special piece because it shares so much of my infertility journey - something I don't publicly share usually. But I hope this piece will help those on both sides of infertility - those suffering through it and those who have loved ones who are - to be more aware of hurtful comments. We can all be a little more empathetic, understanding, and kind.
Read the article here: How You Can Wholly Support Someone Who's Infertile or Has Experienced Pregnancy Loss
I was given this book as a gift a few years ago, and I just barely got around to reading it.
I've read a lot from Ray Bradbury, but I've never read non-fiction from him, so this was a treat. This book is full of writing inspiration, humor, and details about him that I never knew.
His Writing Habit
What impressed me most about Bradbury was his writing habit. For ten years he wrote a short story every week, and each week he sent it out to a publisher. That's a lot of writing, but you know what it did? It made him a stronger writer. He had writing the short story down to an art. He eventually learned what to do, and he became a master at it.
"All during my early twenties I had the following schedule," Bradbury writes. "On Monday morning I wrote the first draft of a new story. One Tuesday I did a second draft. On Wednesday a third. On Thursday a fourth. On Friday a fifth. And on Saturday at noon I mailed out the sixth and final draft to New York. Sunday? I thought about all the wild ideas scrambling for my attention..."
I love how each day had a purpose. As a planner myself, I see the beauty in this. It somehow seems more manageable when it's broken down like this, doesn't it?
Bradbury continues, "If this all sound mechanical, it wasn't. My ideas drove me to it, you see. The more I did, the more I wanted to do. You grow ravenous. You run fevers. You know exhilarations. You can't sleep at night, because your beast-creature ideas want out and turn you in your bed. It is a grand way to live."
As I read about his writing habit, I started to think about my own (or the lack thereof). I began to think that maybe if I could write as much as Bradbury did, even for just a year, maybe I could start to make more progress with my writing career. And that got me thinking even more. What if I started The Bradbury Challenge? Maybe start slowly - one short story a month for a year - and work my way from there. In fact, it could be bigger than myself, inviting other writers to join in - kind of like how NaNoWriMo does it. If you'd be interested in something like that for next year (2018), let me know!
Finding Inspiration & Feeding Muses
I've always loved the idea of muses. It probably stems from watching Disney's Hercules as a child. Those muses were my favorite part. I mean, come on, they sang the best songs.
So, how did Bradbury come up with all his ideas? You'd think he'd run out of story ideas writing one story a week for a decade, but that wasn't the case.
"...ideas lie everywhere, like apples fallen and melting in the grass for lack of wayfaring strangers with an eye and a tongue for beauty, whether absurd, horrific, or genteel."
He made lists of words as way of inspiration, which sounds so simple. And maybe it is. Maybe we're all missing the boat here. The lists would consist of words like skeleton, old woman, lake, coffin, and so on. Take a look at how it worked for Bradbury.
"I began to run through those lists, pick a noun, and then sit down to write a long poem-prose-essay on it. Somewhere along the middle of the page, or perhaps on the second page, the prose poem would turn into a story. Which is to say a character suddenly appeared and said, 'That's me'; or, 'That's an idea I like!' And the character would then finish the tale for me."
Easy enough, right?
What it Means to Be a Writer
Bradbury provides some fantastic quotes about what it means to be a writer. When I read these, they hit home. I'm nowhere near Ray Bradbury's level, but now I know that we were both meant to write.
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.