So with November fast approaching and my promise to myself that I’d take part in National Novel Writing Month this year at the forefront of my mind, I figured that I should probably do some prep for it. Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is no easy task, but it can be made a little easier to do with some planning.
If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo before, it’s a writing event where the aim is that on November 1st you begin to write a 50,000-word novel, finishing by 23:59 on November 30th. As a lot of aspiring/celebrated writers will tell you, writing can be difficult, especially when you’re not sure where you want your WIP to go – that’s what this preparation is for! Take some time to really plan out your novel in depth so that your main job is writing up what you know, not trying to come up with it on the fly.
What I Did:
- Create a plan.
- I started a brand new notebook and made in-depth lists about my characters and settings and planned out the main plot, as well as little subplots.
- I always find it helpful to write out the bare bones of scenes that come to mind. For example, if I can visualise a scene between characters then I have to write it down or I can’t think of anything else. This is also super helpful when you come to write up the rest of the novel as you already have some sections started.
- Set goals.
- Giving yourself something to strive for is a big thing for me and if it means I can cross something off a list, it’s even better. This helps me feel productive and on track which is important for me when I have a deadline to meet.
- My provisional goal is to write 1,700 words a day (making 51,000 altogether).
- Keep everything together.
- I’m awful at misplacing bits of paper that I need at a precise moment so keeping all of my plans together is super helpful.
- Keep everything in a notebook or a folder for easy access, or make sure everything is saved is one folder on your laptop/computer.
- Get all of the fun bits out of the way.
- I can be a big procrastinator when it comes to writing so am bound to get distracted by finding character face claims or playing around with making covers.
- To get around this, I try and do all of this before I start writing, as not only do I not have anything to get distracted by, but I can also refer back to it if I get stuck.
- An example for the novel I’m planning to write for NaNoWriMo (➜) – Background image taken from “Field Trip” Editorial for Details, styled by Paul Stura and photographed by Cass Bird, featuring Simon Nessman as the model.
- Learn your writing needs.
- Some people have specific needs for when they’re writing. For example, the amount of noise they can work in, or having to wear something specific to be comfortable. Find what works for you before you get stuck into writing to save some time.
- For me, comfy trousers are a must (pjs, joggers, etc.), I can’t be too cold and will probably want some sort of snack (usually chocolate 😂) so before I sit down to write, I make sure all of those things are sorted out.
- Plan out your characters.
- They’re the main drivers of your plot and you need to know them well. Ask yourself what makes them happy/sad/angry/surprised. What do they look like? What are their families like? Their upbringings? All of those things will impact how they react to your plot points and give you a clear vision of the things that they’d say or do.
- Plan out your plot.
- You need to know what’s going to happen before you write it. Planning can help avoid plotholes and questionable scenes, making your story flow better.
- Even if you’re a ‘pantser’ (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), you’ll still need a vague idea of what’s going to happen so that it all makes sense, so take some time to plan it out!
- Set achievable word count/chapter goals.
- If you’re anything like me and need lists and goals to feel productive then this might help to keep you on track.
- Make sure they’re achievable so that they’re more encouraging than scary!
- Don’t give up!
- I’m awful for convincing myself that what I’m writing is bad, or that I’m doing a bad job of explaining myself and tend to leave my WIPs unfinished. The biggest thing with this is to push past that barrier and give it a good go! You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.
If you’re thinking of giving NaNoWriMo a go this year then go for it! Don’t be put off by people claiming that it’s only for ‘proper writers’, if you have a story to tell then I’d definitely recommend giving this a go in any capacity. Whether you want to sign up to the website and interact with other writers during the month, or perhaps just want this to be a private goal that you work on alone, I feel like it’s open to anyone.
If you’re taking part I’d love to know! Maybe we can cheer each other on 😊 You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to keep up to date with my NaNoWriMo progress or just want to vent your own writing stresses!