Start exercising your fingers for the furious typing frenzy. We’re prepping for NaNoWriMo! If you’re playing by the rules you can’t officially start writing until November 1, but there’s plenty you can do to get ready.
Make a Commitment
Before you do anything you need to commit right now to doing everything you can to reach 50,000 words in the month of November. It sounds easy now, but crises will come up, you will get sick, relatives will drive you crazy, and/or you’ll eat way too much on Thanksgiving and fall into a food hangover. Plus, you know, you’ll also be fighting your normal amount of procrastination/writer’s block.
Trust me, stuff will happen, and NaNo will be the easiest thing to push aside. That’s why you have to seriously commit, and, more importantly, know why you want to do it. Is it because it gives you an excuse to write that novel that’s been stewing in your brain? Is it because you want to create a daily writing habit? Does it sound like a great way to challenge yourself to avoid procrastination? Whatever your reason, understand what is going to make NaNo important to you, and commit to finishing. Otherwise you’ll get too busy and never finish.
Once you do that, you can prepare in lots of other ways to eliminate obstacles for November.
Plan Your Novel
As of today you have a little over two weeks before NaNo starts, and that’s plant of time for outlines, character sketches, background research, and any other preparation you think might come in handy. You can save yourself the “what am I going to write?” headaches by doing a little preparation. Even if you prefer pantsing you can spend time getting to know your characters and learn all kinds of facts you think will be important later.
Get Your Supplies and Your Spot
It’s best to anticipate future challenges. Figure out which tools you’re going to use, how you’ll save your work (and for heaven’s sake, back it up!), and what supplies you’ll need. If you’re planning to handwrite your novel, you’ll want a solid supply of paper and writing utensils of choice. If you’re typing, you’ll want to figure out what programs you’ll use to write and at least two methods for saving your work.
You can also get ahead by setting up your writing space. Find a quiet spot that you can claim for a month. Make it comfortable to fight back and body aches. Make it well-lit to fight eye-soreness. Give yourself plenty of room for materials to prevent frustration.
Tell Your Loved Ones
Sure, November is right in the middle of the holiday season, but you’ll need your family and friends’ support to get through November. They need to understand that you may neglect them during the month, but it isn’t because they’ve done anything wrong. You may want to spend extra time with your loved ones in the next two weeks to prepare them for your absence, and make it clear that you don’t want to be disturbed during your writing time.
You’ll also want your friends and family to encourage you during NaNo. During November, you will have many doubts and and fears, and your friends and family can help. Tell them now how they can best support you when your confidence fails, and they can be your biggest assets during NaNo.
Make a Writing Schedule
The biggest obstacle to NaNo will be finding convenient chunks of time for extensive writing. Try planning a writing schedule. By notating when you hope to write now, you can thin out the rest of your commitments come November. This can help you keep from over-shceduling yourself and leading to exhaustion and anger. If you know you have major commitments that can’t be rearranged during November, plan larger blocks of time before it to get ahead.
Making a writing schedule will also help you commit to daily work.
What are you doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips for first time NaNoers? Share your thoughts in the comments.