Preparing for NaNoWriMo is pretty much just as daunting as trying to complete the actual feat of writing at least 50,00-60,000 words in one month . . . or 30 days, however you want to look at it.
Yep, you read that right. 50,00-60,000 words. It’s roughly around 2,000 words a day, every day, for thirty days straight. One day you might be blessed by the inspiration gods and write 3,500 words and then the next day life swoops in and you don’t even open Word once. NaNoWriMo is very unpredictable, but the goal is to sit down and write something every day – or have to catch up and write double on the weekends.
So here are 6 ways to somewhat tame the beast before all writing hell breaks loose in November.
Create a writing space
This is the most important thing you can do. Pick yourself up and find a space that’s different from your home – you’ll be less inclined to get sidetracked (Netflix anyone??). Don’t have a home office like the thousands of other writers also who do NaNoWriMo? Set up camp at a cafe, the bookstore, or maybe your local library has study rooms you can check out for a few hours at a time. Wherever you choose to go, make sure it’s a good writing environment for you. Cafes are busy places so it’s a good place to go if you can tune out the background noise. Sometimes if I really want to get cracking, I’ll head to the library and use cafes as a place to edit later on. With more people passing by, you’re more likely to get distracted.
Outline that b*tch
Worried about getting stuck? Well, that shouldn’t be an option with an outline. You can get as detailed or go as vague as you want. Some writers swear by outlines while the rest just like to wing it. However, if you have a general idea of where you want to plot to go before you sit down and start, you won’t have all those horrid writer’s block moments. Then you’ll spend your time actually writing rather than having to brainstorm. We all have no idea what we’re doing, we just do it really well.
Tell everyone . . . yes, everyone
The one time I did NaNoWriMo was back in college and I told maybe like 3 people. It probably won’t be a shocker when I say nothing really happened. I wrote a few thousand words, but certainly not even anywhere near 10,000. Now I’m accountable. My family knows, my friends know, and you know. So, if I don’t have at least some kind of manuscript to show by December 1st, it’s going to be a little embarrassing. Commitment by humiliation, am I right?
Put together a writing playlist with new music you can’t sing along to
Some people love writing to music while some pledge to sit in silence and listen to the crickets chirp. But the key phrase here is “music that you can’t sing to.” I don’t listen to Pentatonix when I write. I can’t. Before I even realize it, I’m almost to the end of the album and I have literally nothing to show. Pentatonix, why do you have to be so good?
Good ideas for new music include songs in a different language (Spanish and French work well for me, since I’m writing in English. I’ve also got a few in Portuguese and I’m no stranger to K-Pop), movie soundtracks (I’ll always love the live action Peter Pan and anything by Danny Elfman), or, if you dig it, dive into the classical. Someone please try to write a fight scene while listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Have an idea that you actually like
There’s nothing worse than trying to get a novel out of the way just to get it over with. Write something that you’re actually inspired to write, that way you won’t hate yourself when your fingers ache at the end of the day. That, or you’ll just sit there and stare at a blank screen for hours. If it hasn’t come to you by now, it’s probably not going to be in the FastPass lane just for the sake of NaNoWriMo. Sometimes certain novels need time to develop. National Novel Writing Month is a sprint rather than a marathon; however, NaNoWriMo has also produced some New York Times Bestsellers. Take Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, for example.
Remember that NaNoWriMo isn’t just about quality
Focus on what you want to write. The logistics will come later. Sure, you don’t want to spend a month writing absolute crap, but it’s not all going to be perfect straight from the get go. It’s supposed to be a draft.
Write this down and hang it up where you can see it. I’m guilty of editing while I write and, while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to do, it takes up a whole lot of time. Why waste your effort on one scene over and over again when you could be another 30 pages in? Editing exists as a separate stage for a reason. You’ll use it, but that’s what January is for.
Want to start preparing for the best writing month of your life? Sign up for free at the official NaNoWriMo site here. Create a profile, your novel, and connect with other writers in your area and around the world. Use it as a place to keep track of your process – you get a certificate at the end of the month if you reach that 50,000 word count!
Happy writing! Xx