What Is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo makes November the most important month in the indie writer's calendar. Even if you don't participate, the frisson of excitement and motivation in the air will radiate out of your phone. But, just because it takes place in November, doesn't mean the NaNoWriMo prep can't begin now.
If you haven't taken part before, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is a month long 'competition' that asks you to write 50,000 words of a novel. This equates to 1,667 words for all 30 days in November. Put like that, it seems fairly manageable. And it is.
I have participated and completed NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and both times have really helped me push forwards with books I've had swirling around my brain for a long time. In fact, I've already written what I've learned from NaNoWriMo and how I've incorporated these newfound skills into my professional writing.
Previously, I've begun my prep fairly late in October. Both books had a Gothic feel so were aptly planned by the light of the pumpkin and to the music of Mike Oldfield. But this time I'm going in blind. That is, the book I will write isn't one I've had planned in my head for ages.
5 Ways to Begin NaNoWriMo Prep Now
So I'm starting my preparation now - and here's how you can start yours early in order to complete the 50,000 words.
1. Prioritise Commitments
Your job, your social life, your wedding planning, your dog, all of these things should take a back seat while your words come to the fore. Sorry, kids, but you'll have to entertain yourselves for 30 days - parents can pick back up for the Christmas prep. Make sure you have pre-planned your commitments so you can hit your all important word count. Make friends and colleagues know that for November, you have one priority now, and its a very needy one.
2. Build a Community
One of the best things about NaNoWriMo (aside from finishing 50,000 words) is knowing other people are squirreling away into the night with you. The NaNoWriMo website has many ways to get in touch with others - and you can even meet up in real life at write-ins in your city! Having a community to spur you on and offer some friendly competition is invaluable when it comes to the solitary pursuit of writing. Go find your people!
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
While I am a massive advocate of winging it and fixing in the edit, there is only so much you can leave to chance. Have a solid catalyst for the action, plenty of conflict points, and a worthwhile denouement in place. There's no point writing a killer middle to find that the end is just an exposition dump of what a happily ever after your characters will look like. The more you plan in the preparation stages, the easier it is to find where you're supposed to be going.
4. But, Don't Plan Too Much
Here's some seemingly contradictory advice - don't plan too much. If you plan line by line, scene by scene, you'll end up planning yourself into a corner. You might end up losing a great idea that just won't fit into the rigidity you've created for yourself. Be flexible around the initial plan.
5. Prepare for Fireworks
Protagonists are a lot like children. They rarely do as they're supposed to do. You can't be mad at them for it, you have to just go with it. Things will go wrong in your book. You can plan all you like, even have your protagonist and real world commitments under control, yet the dreaded demon that is writer's block, impostor syndrome, or even hopelessness will creep up. Nobody is immune to feeling like they can't string a sentence together. There is no cure. But the best thing you can do for yourself is just to make sure you have chocolate/coffee/vodka to get you through the dark and stormy nights of prose-writing.
So, there you have it. The sooner you begin preparation, the more prepared you'll be. What's that famous quote: if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Yep, that sums this up nicely.
If you want any help planning, editing, or proofreading any fiction - or nonfiction - writing, I have experience in professional and amateur writing. Please get in touch!
James Cullen the Writer
James Cullen the Writer