The first thing you should do is register on the NaNoWriMo website if you haven’t already. Don’t even continue reading this blog post yet – go and sign up now! http://nanowrimo.org/
If you’re a writer, or want to be, this is a great resource. You can network with fellow writers, get people to motivate you, and get tips from published authors, and the best part is that it’s free! Also, keeping track of how many words you wrote might help you stay on track with writing every day. And I mean every day. You can’t just skip a day and pretend you’ll write twice as much the next day. We all know that won’t happen. It certainly didn’t work for me. But this year I’m preparing myself.
Now, it may be too late to follow this calendar exactly, considering the first date on it was October 1, but you can use the rest of the month to do these tasks to get the skeleton of your story ready for the meat you’ll add during November. You can also check out the NaNoWriMo prep page for other ideas to get you prepared for next month. Or, if you wanted to be spontaneous, you could be a Pantser. I think I’m somewhere in between a Planner and a Pantser – I’m going to do some character sketches and plot out points of my story, but other than that, I’m going to see where the writing and the characters take me.
Regardless of whether you want to plan out your plot or write on a whim, consider these tips from the NaNoWriMo site, from participants in the forums, and from my own experience.
- Register on the NaNoWriMo site if you haven’t already. It gives you free access to tips, tools, and advice from writers.
- If you want some inspiration, you can join a forum and share your problems with people who are going through the same thing.
- Prepare your novel
- Make character sketches. The story won’t start if you don’t have characters.
- Setting. Where the blazes is this happening? Setting is an integral part of how the story can progress. You can’t have a main character dive for sunken treasure if they’re in a desert.
- Plot out your story. I took a novel writing class in which the professor said you need to know where your story is going in order to have a direction to write in. So figure out the conflict and possibly the resolution before you even start writing.
- Names. I hate naming characters. If it helps, just come up with random names and, once you get to know your characters, you can rename them. Just don’t forget to change the name in the editing process, which you won’t worry about until at least December.
- Have a temporary title. This isn’t necessary, and probably would be better to do after writing, but it could help steer you in a certain direction during the writing process.
- Make a writing schedule. The standard is 50,000 words, so if you write every day, you can divide that into about 1667 words per day. This post so far is 528 words. 1667 words is about four pages a day, which isn’t too bad if you stick to your schedule and write every day.
- Go to some of the events. The ones happening now will help you prepare your novel. Some will happen in November while you’re writing to keep you going or give you a reprieve from whatever writing schedule you may have come up with.
- Count your words every day to stay on schedule. Remember, you have to write about 1667 words per day to reach the goal. Or you can set your own goal if you want a shorter story or don’t want to pressure yourself, especially if this is your first time participating. If you would prefer to write freely with no goal in mind, that’s okay, too. It is your story after all.
Are you ready to write? Feel free to share some of your ideas to help other writers get inspired!