Repost: Pre-NaNoWriMo Tips

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn on Flickr
The time has finally has finally come and the first post of October is here! Because October is also known as NaNoPrepMo, at least in my mind, I like to talk about preparing for NaNoWriMo here. But I've also written about this pretty thoroughly three years ago, so I'm going to repost what I wrote, but with some updates. Because websites and methods and manuscripts change over time, but much of NaNoWriMo preparation is still largely the same.

So here we go!

  • Decide on an idea. This kind of goes without saying, but the sooner you think of your NaNo novel idea, the more time you’ll have to let it develop before the mad dash of November. And you’ll be writing so quickly come November, that you’ll be glad for every iota of pre-decided information you have. Assuming I get all my deadlines done this month, I'll be working on my #MagicMurderMayhem WIP this NaNo, which I worked out over the summer. :)

  • Start plotting. If you’re a pantser, then you’re probably going to skip this step. But if you’re even slightly open to plotting (even a very flexible, loose plot), then I highly recommend that you try plotting in advance. As a regular fast-drafter, I can tell you that the best tip I’ve ever received on fast-drafting is to know what you’re writing. Just about every time I’ve ever encountered writer’s block, it was because I didn’t know what was next, or how to connect the dots between two plot points (in which case I plotted in more detail and voila! The words returned).

    Point is, when you’re writing like a speed demon for NaNoWriMo, it’ll be much easier to keep the pace if you actually know what happens (or at least have a vague idea). Whether it’s flashcard plotting, a brief list of events, a plotting method similar to mine, or the combination method I used (successfully!) for #MagicMurderMayhem, NaNoWriMo will be so much smoother if you get your events in order before the race begins.

  • Tell family/friends about your November plans. We writers tend to withdraw in November. We sneak away to our caves and shoot daggers (with our eyes, of course) at anyone who dares interrupt our precious writing time. Letting your friends and family know in advance about why you’re going to disappear for thirty days can help save you some aggravation and disappointed people. 

  • Connect with fellow NaNo writers. Do you have a Twitter? If you don’t, I recommend getting one and searching hashtags like #NaNoWriMo to find fellow NaNo writers. It’s early, but people are already thinking about it (like me), and you’ll be glad for the support of your fellow exhausted/excited/slightly crazed writers come November. 

  • Familiarize yourself with the website. I’m not sure when exactly, but the website occasionally goes down before the big event to prepare the servers and give the site a fresh upgrade. That’s normal, so don’t panic when it happens. (It may have already happened this year, but I'm not sure.)

    But until then, it doesn’t hurt to set up your account and browse through the site, just to get to know it if you don’t already

  • Investigate distraction-free writing tools. Like Write or Die,  Freedom, or my new fave, myWriteClub's word sprints, which I talk about in this post. They come in handy when you're trying to write quickly.

  • Mentally prepare yourself. In order to reach the goal of 50,000 words and claim your NaNoWriMo victory, you’ll need to write 1,667 words a day, assuming you write every day of the month. 1,667 words isn’t all that bad, and some days you’ll fly through them and roll right into 2 or 3k. But there are days when you’re going to be exhausted, when time is really short, when every word is fighting you, and those are the days you need to be prepared for.

    It’s okay to miss a day. It’s also okay to get stuck and write terribly and cry over your keyboard. It's also okay to realize part-way through you're writing the wrong manuscript and start over.

    Here’s what you’re not going to end up with at the end of the month: a masterpiece. You’re writing the first portion of a book (50k isn’t usually a full-length MS, although it can be depending on the category/genre) in a month. It’s going to be messy and occasionally ugly and embarrassing. And that’s totally okay.

    The point isn’t to come out of NaNoWriMo with a gleaming, beautiful draft. The point is to get the first portion of a draft finished, so that you can complete your book and then revise it later.

    You’re writing the bare bones. They aren’t going to be pretty, but they don’t need to be. 

  • Get excited. You’re going to write a book. Or a portion of one, anyway. You. A book. Yours. It’s something to be excited about, it’s something to celebrate, even if the writing is so horrendous that you cringe when you read it back. NaNoWriMo is exhausting, yes, but it’s also exciting because you’re doing something that millions of people only ever dream about—you’re writing a book, and it’s all yours.

For those who have (or are going to) participate in NaNoWriMo, what do you do to prepare?

Twitter-sized bite:
Ready to gear up for #NaNoWriMo? Author @Ava_Jae shares tips to prepare for the big event. (Click to tweet)

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