November is, once again, fast approaching and I’ve convinced myself to commit to National Novel Writing Month again this year. I held myself accountable by telling you Twitterfolk that I’d commited back in September – since then I’d done no planning and had pretty much zero ideas (yay! 😭)
In a last ditch attempt I sat down to try and come up with something and think I struck gold! I attempted to write a 50,000 word novel this time last year (check out my experience here) but only made it to 25,000. I’m still counting this as a win as I finished the story that I wanted to tell – and it’s the most I’ve ever actually written before. This year I’m channeling my inner witch with something a bit more supernatural.
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.
My prep this time was a little bit different but some of my advice from last year still applies (check out last year’s full prep post here).
- Create a plan.
- This year I abandoned the notebook and went into full blown planning mode on my laptop instead.
- Last year, my plan was too basic which meant that I wasn’t sure how I could stretch my story past the 25,000 word mark. This year, I really spent time going through the big events and the things that would advance the plot (conversations, characters, etc.) so that I always have an idea of where I’m going next.
- Use whatever is available to you.
- The NaNoWriMo site gives you the option of linking a Pinterest board and a Spotify playlist which really helped me get into the world of my WIP.
- If you’re a visual thinker like me, I’d definitely recommend using Pinterest as it’s a fab way to create mood boards or characters.
- Spotify is also a huge help for me when it comes to getting me into the mood to write, and can act as a playlist for your writing time.
- Do your research.
- Usually, I convince myself that planning out the plot/characters/settings of the story is the most important thing. While it is most definitely important, this year I spent some time researching the different things that I wanted to include but knew I would struggle with.
- As I’m going for a witchy vibe, I researched Wiccan beliefs and origins, types of potions and spells and even made myself a list of witchy words that rhyme – I’m awful at coming up with spells on the spot so has so far proved really helpful!
- Set goals.
- I find setting goals really helps to keep me on track which is important for me when I have a deadline to meet.
- The same as last year, my provisional goal is to write 1,700 words a day (making 51,000 altogether). This isn’t a scary number so doesn’t put me off before I’ve even started.
- Get all of the fun bits out of the way.
- Same bit of advice from last year. 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.
Here’s a little bit of advice, based on my experience last year:
- 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.
- 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 plot holes 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!
- Flesh out some scenes.
- I always find it useful to flesh out the few scenes that I can’t get out of my head. If you can get those down, in whatever amount of detail, it’s a nice boost to your word count if you’re not sure where you want the main chapter to go yet and frees up your mind to think of other bits of your novel.
- Plus, it’s always a relief when you’re feeling tired but know that the next scene has already been written! Life saver!
- Take part in sprints!
- The Twitterverse is amazing for NaNoWriMo support and there are countless profiles set up to encourage the community to take part in word sprints. A word sprint is simply seeing how much you can write, without distraction, in a set amount of time. I find them really useful for getting down the bulk of my day’s goal.
- 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.
Just like last year, my main piece of advice is the same. If you’re thinking of giving NaNoWriMo a go this time then go for it! If you have a story to tell then I’d definitely recommend giving this a go in any capacity, whether it’s signing up to the website and interacting with other writers, or perhaps just keeping it as 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 come and be my buddy here!