Hello, my pretties! November is coming up fast, and we know what that means–NaNoWriMo!
For those who might not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It happens in November, and it challenges writers of all skill levels to complete a rough draft of approximately 50,000 words in one month.
That’s one huuuuuuuuuge task! But I’m here to help you break that huge task down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and soon, you’ll be on your way to completing that 50,000 word draft.
But first, we have to prep. And that, my pretties, is what October (Preptober) is for.
I know, I know. It’s awfully tempting to just wait until November 1st and then dive in all gleeful and in love with the shiny newness of writing our novels. But what I’ve seen is that people who don’t prep don’t finish. They lose the shiny about a week in.
Why? Because writing is hard work. It’s wonderful, but it can be very isolating. The blank page can seem like a monster just waiting to eat up your writing time and leave you with nothing but self-doubt and discouragement. Middles can sag. Endings can elude us. It can seem impossible to even start!
If you really want to hit the ground running on November 1st, then Preptober is essential.
Good news: I’m here to guide you through it!
Being successful at NaNo depends mostly on developing a habit of writing. After all, if you can’t get your butt in your writing chair, you’re not going to get many words on the page.
So say it with me: butt + chair = word count
It sounds silly, but if you’re serious, this will become your mantra in the next few months.
Okay, down to brass tacks: How do you start?
1. Learn more about NaNoWriMo
If you’re new to NaNo, head on over to the NaNoWriMo website and poke around. Start an account if that appeals. If not, no worries! The key to your best productivity is not going to be Use All the Things! Instead, it’s going to be: Use the Things That Work For You.
2. Start brainstorming!
It’s never too early to start brainstorming. If you’re lucky, you might have that awesome novel idea that’s been burning in the back of your brain–the one you just can’t wait to get out on the page. If you’re like that, great!
But if you’re not, you’ll want to start with some questions: What are my favorite books? Why did I enjoy these books? How did reading these books make me feel? Is that what I want my readers to feel? If not, then what emotions do I want to get across to my readers? If I could write any one novel and it’d be an overnight success, what would I write about?
This blog post by Denise Jaden gives some more ideas for harnessing passion to get you through your draft. I love her idea of creating a mission statement!
The key is to jumpstart your brain and your creativity. Ideally, you want a project you’re not just excited about but THRILLED about. That’s what’s going to keep your butt in the chair when the shiny wears off.
3. Gather Supplies
Whether it’s in a notebook or an app, you’ll need somewhere to jot all these ideas down. It’s a good idea to spend some time checking out the different systems like the Bullet Journal for Writers or apps like EverNote.
I use a Bullet Journal spread for monthly word count calculations along with EverNote. Since I’m often away from my desk when inspiration strikes, it’s good to have a note app that syncs across all devices.
You’ll also want to decide whether you’ll be using an app, MS Word, Scrivener, or some other program to do your daily writing. Try them out and see what works for you. There are countless programs. Some, like Scrivener, are very robust. Others are much simpler.
Again: the key is what works for you. After browsing Bullet Journaling for five seconds, you can see how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole. You can spend entire days doing Scrivener tutorials.
I probably don’t have to tell you that the time you spend checking out cool BuJo spreads and playing around with Scrivener is time you’re not writing. And that’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo, right?
To write a novel!
So I caution you to choose something that fits your needs over your wants. Trust me, you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Too much, and it’s just another noisy distraction.
My advice is: use the simplest solution that fits your needs.
4. Read in Your Genre
If you haven’t already, start reading in your genre now. Go online and search for the most popular books in your genre. See if any appeal, and start reading! The best way to get a sense of a genre is to read in it.
If you’re already pretty well versed in your novel’s genre, I recommend re-reading an old favorite, something that gets you fired up and excited about the genre.
Begin reading like a writer. Notice the cadence of the words. Note when you feel excited and when you’re turning the page. Try to see how the author accomplished that. Also note when you’re bored and skimming. Unpacking other authors’ techniques is a next-level writing skill that takes time to develop, but being aware is step one!
5. Come back next week for Preptober: Week 2!
That’s all for now, my pretties! Go forth and conquer. And if you’d like to find me on NaNo, I’m GirlyEngine. 🙂
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