National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is coming up fast. One of the keys to successfully completing NaNoWriMo and writing an entire novel in just 30 days is preparation.
How To Prepare for NaNoWriMo
Preparing for National Novel Writing Month isn’t just good practice, it’s absolutely necessary. In order to write a 60,000 word novel, you’ll need to crank out 2,000 words per day, every day, including weekends, and yes, even holidays. That means you won’t have time to get setup for NaNoWriMo in November. You need to do it now.
Here are some important steps to be ready when NaNoWriMo starts on November 1st.
- Get your computer setup. Are you using a laptop, or that computer over in the corner? Whatever the answer, make sure it’s ready. Go turn it on. Open your word processing program and type in your title page. Save the file. Is everything working? Is your Word license expired? Do you need to do 4 hours of Windows updates? Did you forget a password? Turn it on again and do this one more time on October 31st, just to make sure that there are no bugs or other things you need to work out.
- Get a small notebook to take everywhere. – When you are working on a novel, bits and pieces of scenes and dialog will pop into your head at the strangest times. Those “freebies” from your muse are critical help in keeping moving on your novel, but in order to use them, you’ll need to be able to remember them.
- Download and setup a note keeping app on your phone – Some writer’s swear by Evernote. Others use Microsoft’s OneNote, but there are literally hundreds of other choices. Find one. Install it, and get it setup. Take some sample notes so you know how to work it. You’ll have one more way to keep track of those fleeting golden nuggets of plot and character.
- Look at your November calendar – Many a NaNoWriMo novel was killed before the November even started by upcoming tasks, projects, family visits and the like that were not pre-planned for. Start by taking a good hard look at Thanksgiving. Are you cooking, cleaning, traveling? Whatever it is, make a realistic expectation for how much writing you will get done, that week, that day, and the day before and after. If the answer is none, that is fine. In fact, it’s pretty common, but that means you need to get ahead. Don’t even think about trying to make it up after. Those last five days are for unforeseen problems, not for things you should have seen coming.
- Are you a parent? Look at that calendar again. What days are the kids out of school? Plan accordingly.
- Find alternate writing locations – Habit is great, and sitting down at the same keyboard every day is a great way to finish that novel. But, human beings like a bit of variety. Scope out other places that you might like to work. Coffee shops, libraries, and maybe a park or common area are all great places to write. Take your laptop or notebook, and set them up. Connect to the WiFi. Find the password. Figure out if you will need headphones. Where are the power jacks. Don’t waste valuable writing time figuring out how to use your new spaces.
- Snacks and a water bottle – You’re going to get hungry and thirsty. Sometimes, that will happen when you are on a roll, and choosing between busting up a great writing session, or becoming increasingly distracted by bodily needs is a garbage choice. Instead, have easy to eat snacks and a water bottle with you at your writing space. Try to get healthy snacks that you don’t have to mess too much with. Candy eventually causes a sugar crash, and unwrapping individual bits is distraction. Make sure that water bottle has a lid, and use it. Sooner or later, you are going to be focused on your writing and reach out to grab that water bottle with only half of your attention, and you WILL knock it over. Eventually, you’ll have to pee. I’m not going any further in my commitment, but you do you.
- Signup on NaNoWriMo – Even if you don’t track your progress, you’ll want to at least glance at the support and tips you’ll find there. Writing is a lonely endeavor, but there is no reason to ever feel alone as a writer. There are lots of us out there, and we feel just like you do sometimes.
Do you have any other tips, or preparation for NaNoWriMo that you are putting in play?