National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us. There’s a special place in my heart for this event, because it’s what finally got me writing long-form fiction. Also, I can finally point to some results: The Rogue Retrieval, which I wrote in NaNoWriMo 2012-2013, is going to be published by Harper Voyager early next year.
Starting NaNoWriMo is easy, and if you’re on the fence, I really encourage you to try it. Even if you’re certain you won’t finish, or you’ve failed in the past. Winning NaNoWriMo — that is, cranking out 50,000 words by November 30th — is not easy. A little preparation goes a long way. Here are some of the things you can do to get ready.
1. Establish Your Profile on NaNoWriMo.org
If you haven’t already, head over to NaNoWriMo.org and set up your profile. Make sure it’s up to date, and that you’ve “created” your novel. You don’t really need to give it a cover image or synopsis, but a title is nice to have. I use codename titles, personally. The actual title of your book will probably require a lot more thought (and by the way, may ultimately be changed by your agent or editor).
2. Find Some Writing Buddies
NaNoWriMo is much more fun with friends. Odds are, you probably know some other writers who are planning to do NaNoWriMo. Make sure to buddy up, so that you can keep tabs on one another, share encouragement, or compete to hit those word counts. Or, drag your real-world friends into this contest so you have people to write with over lunch.
You can start with me: I’m dankoboldt on there.
3. Plan Your Novel
They say there are two kinds of writers:
- Plotters, also called outliners, who like to plan out their work in some detail before writing it
- Pantsers, also called discovery writers, who generally like to jump right in with little planning.
These types are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I started out as a discovery writer, and became more of a plotter after discovering Larry Brooks’s Story Structure. No matter what kind of writer you are, jotting down some notes about what you’d like to write can be very helpful. I highly recommend Dannie Morin’s Plan4WriMo series on this topic. Disclaimer: she’s also my CP, and awesome.
4. Catch Up On Sleep
You’ll almost certainly need to do some writing at the edges of your regular day to hit your word counts. That means early mornings or late nights, or both. You might as well catch up on some of it now.
5. Engage the NaNoWriMo Community
The community aspect is why this event has become so successful. Jump into the forums and say hello to the people in your local region. If you want to take it up a notch, look at the local events that will happen in your area before, during, and after NaNoWriMo. I know you’re probably an introvert, but it doesn’t hurt to get out once in a while.
6. Stock Up On Stimulants
We all have our secret sources of power when the writing gets tough. Coffee, chocolate, possibly alcohol. Now is the time to stock up on those snacks and stimulants so that you have what you need to get through the month.
7. Build Up Some Goodwill
It is highly likely that your NaNoWriMo obsession will get on the nerves of your spouse, children, friends, co-workers… basically anyone who depends on you and isn’t a writer. Now is the time to suck up to these people so that you can skate a little during the month of November. Now is when you should do some extra housework/laundry/showering to get ahead.
Ask for their support, too. The more people cheering you on to that 50k finish line, the better!
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