National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, starts in November. But if you’re going to do your best at NaNoWriMo, you can start to prepare ahead of time. Don’t waste valuable time. Spend November writing!
1: Decide how many words you will write a day
The hardest part of writing will always the act of writing. Deciding on a daily writing goal can give you the advantage you need to finish your novel by the end of November.
There are 30 days in November. If you settle on a word count goal of 1000 words a day and stick with it, you will complete 30,000 words by the end of the month. However, if you are starting your project from scratch, you want to try and do at least 40,000 words. So set a daily goal of at least 1350 words. That will net you 40500 by the end of November. NanNoWriMo encourages 50,000 words, which is 1667 words a day.
Adjust your word goal for your ideal length. 90,000 thousand words will take 3,000 words a day. You can also mix your daily word goals up. Perhaps try for 2,000 words a day during your work days and 5,000 words on your days off. For a Monday through Friday workweek, that’s 106,000 words in 30 days!
When you are setting your word count goal, don’t worry about what you will be writing. There will be plenty of time and opportunity after you’ve finished for revisions.
2: Be realistic in setting your word count goals
Be honest with your schedule and ability to meet your word count goal. Writing can be like dieting. You can set yourself up to fail if you make the conditions too difficult to achieve. A moderate plan is best for most people, especially those who are not used to sticking to a strict writing schedule.
If your minimum goal is something you can achieve, then you will have the freedom to write more. Make sure you are setting goals you can meet without being miserable. Writing can be hard, and at times it will be, but it is important to have goals that are manageable and reasonable. When you fail your goals, you will become discouraged, and that defeats the purpose of NaNoWriMo.
3: Designate and prepare your writing space
Once you have determined your word count goals, decide where you will do your writing. Will you write t a picnic table during lunch break at work? Your home office? On the couch? On the train during your commute to and from work? At your university or public library?
There’s nothing that says you have to stick to just one writing space, but if you want your daily word count goal to succeed, part of the success lies with deciding on your primary writing space in advance. When you know where you are going to write, you are that much more prepared to write every day. If you write in public, make sure you bring your writing equipment with you. If you are writing at home, make sure your writing space is free of any interruptions that will sidetrack your progress. Have your headphones ready, playlists loaded up, your favorite chair and pillow waiting…do whatever you need to ensure you can focus on writing.
If you write in public, make sure you bring your writing equipment with you. If you are writing at home, make sure your writing space is free of any interruptions that will sidetrack your progress. Have your headphones ready, playlists loaded up, your favorite chair and pillow waiting…do whatever you need to ensure your space is comfortable so you can focus on writing.
4: Decide what writing tools you will use
Another way to ensure you meet your writing goals for NaNoWriMo is to make sure you have the tools you need to succeed. Do you prefer writing by hand over using a keyboard? If so, what will you write on? If you prefer to type, what method works best for you? Do you like using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a typewriter?
What about other tools, like software? Do you prefer Microsoft Word over Apple’s Pages? Maybe you like Scrivener for its organizational abilities. How about cloud services, such as Google Docs or Evernote? Will you be using multiple devices and not always have online access? Do you need a thumbdrive or other method to move data between devices?
Maximize November for writing. Don’t be distracted by deciding on your tools when you should be writing. An object in motion stays in motion. Don’t stall your writing by figuring out what your tools will be in the middle of the process.
5: Make an outline before you start writing
There are two types of writers: the pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write freely, letting the story flow as they write. Plotters work from a detailed outline that they prepare before they start writing their story.
But an outline can be general, and in the sense I recommend it, is just means having a broad idea of your story. Who are your main characters? What’s the central conflict? Where and when does the story take place? Have enough detail down that when November 1st comes around, you are ready to start writing your novel.
If you are a plotter, feel free to develop as detailed an outline as needed, but make sure that it doesn’t stop you from your word count goal. If you are a pantser, trust your inner muse, but give yourself a guide to help you get from the beginning to the end of your story by November 30th.
6: Have a plan for after November 30th
If you are going to put in the effort of participating in NaNoWriMo, then plan to keep working after November ends. Figure out what your goals are after your first draft is done. Because you aren’t finished yet! You still have least two more drafts to go. You need to decide if you are going to let others read your work, and that means deciding if you want to approach publishers or look at self-publishing. Do you have an editor? What are you going to do about marketing? Do you need to prepare for a sequel?
Knowing how far you want to go with your novel will give you the motivation to make it through NaMoWriMo and then keep going afterward. Writing shouldn’t stop when November ends, and writing is only part of the process when it comes to completing a finished novel. NaNoWriMo is the first step on a journey. It really helps you get to where you want to go if you have a good idea of where you are going before you start your trip.