How Do You Prep for NaNoWriMo Writing Success
NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow!!
That’s right. It ‘ll be here sooner than you expect. It will sneak up on you like an ill-intentioned shadow creeper, and since I don’t want you to start a 50k run on words alone, I want to help you prepare. The biggest step is choosing what to write.
So often, NaNo snuck up on me. I would think about it all summer, and when a story started getting longer and longer, I ‘d plan to complete it for NaNo. If it’s not something that I think I can get at least 50K out of, then I move on to my unfinished WIP pile. Boy is that a task I still have to complete! I have so many to choose from, that’s pretty much an impossible task too.
I’ll critique and plot, in my head of course, in an attempt to either develop one of those billion ideas I have scattered everywhere or give some necessary completion to one of the characters always chattering in my brain.
I may even come up with something new, but will it make a 50,000-word story? I will admit that going from being a short story writer by habit to trying to stretch it into a 50,000-word novel is a task, especially as I am diehard pantser and loathe change. I have years of NaNoWriMo under my belt, most of which I won, should I choose to proceed with this year’s challenge, I’m confident something will force itself to the forefront on my imagination.
Despite all the unfinished NaNo projects collecting dust in their folders, and the first year project still needing its companion stories finished… I’ll dive in, full mode, trying to put this story together. I lay it out in PMs with my writing partner and in my writing community, bouncing ideas off other equally creative brains. A plan formulates that is at least further along in my head than last year’s project was. And then…
Too many ideas
My muse will misbehave and dangle tasty new tidbits of ideas in front of me, forcing me to jot the ideas down on. Now, I’m questioning…Should I do this new idea or should I stick with the one I already have?
I’m still not sure of the answer when I meet that blank page on day one, but I am ready to take on NaNoWriMo with one or the other.
Best practice is preparation
For those of you taking on NaNo this year, remember it’s really simple:
- Set aside a block of time, the same time every day, to write. Turn off all distractions and set your cellphone to silent.
- Have any “supplies” handy—fill your glass; bring a snack, whatever keeps you going—before you start writing, so neither thirst or an angry tummy distract you.
- If you must read what you’ve already written to keep going, resist the urge to edit. There will be time for editing later. The purpose of this project is to get the story down, even if it doesn’t flow together as smoothly as you want.
- Just write. Set a goal on the number of words you want to write, and keep going until you complete it. And, don’t stop just because you meet your word count. If you’ve still got words in you, put them on the page.
- Before you leave your project, start the next scene, even if it’s just a sentence or two. This will save you time going back to read.
- Reach out to your NaNo buddies through messages on the site or twitter using the hashtag #NaNoWriMo. Help, motivation, is only a click away. You can follow along with the discussions too. Reach out to our community for help, support, word sprints, and more.
- Download the free trial of Scrivener from the NaNo site. Take the day today to get to know it. I hear it’s wonderful for keeping notes and storing information for scenes you will write later in your story.
- Relax. It’s only as hard as you make it. You’re a writer. You have the words in you. You can do this.
What steps would you add to this list for first time NaNo participants? Share them in the comments!
A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories.