NANOWRIMO Preparation: Write Smart. Write Strong. Write On.
by Patricia Tiffany Morris
The National Novel Writing Month in November each year stirs a longing in aspiring and accomplished writers alike. The thrill to focus on drafting a novel, or a part of a novel rushes into the veins of curious partakers of this eccentric activity. Some say the participants are insane. At the very least, obsessive. A 50,000-word goal for November. And some shoot even higher word count goals. Will you join me?
To make the most out of the month and meet the goal of writing 50,000 words, one needs to have a plan in October each year. And apparently, those who have been Nano-ing for a while have checklists, survival kits, and a wide variety of resources and tools at their disposal.
Although these checklists won’t take the place of other resources you have been using, perhaps you will find one or two ideas you hadn’t thought of to make your writing life a little simpler.
1. Find a calendar or create one specifically for October and November. You can purchase or create a bullet journal, or you can download a monthly calendar from your computer app and hand enter goals and ideas. But to get the most out of this season of Nano-ing , find a plan that seems practical, manageable and don’t hesitate to modify your plans and goals if something isn’t working for you personally.
2. Follow the suggestions from the official website for setting goals.
a. This might seem obvious but create an account on the NANOWRIMO website.
b. In the settings create a profile, upload a photo of yourself or an avatar, and fill in the information.
d. You will benefit greatly by taking the quick tutorial offered through the Nano forums, and then say hello to your region or comment on a forum of particular interest. You’ll earn a badge or two along the way.
e. Create and name your project. This doesn’t have to be the name of your novel. I entered Book Two in this year’s project. I am entering contests, and many specify no online posting of your titles or WIP. That’s Work in progress.
f. Upload a photo to represent your project. Or maybe you’d like to create a cover for your novel? Try CANVA or another app.
g. Now decide on a goal for October and November. Choose how you will measure success. Most people set 50,000 words for November. You choose.
h. Do you want to have a daily target goal? Create those and add them to your calendar.
i. Record your daily word count on your calendar, and then upload the number on the Nano site.
j. THIS IS MY REGION. JOIN ME if you’d like.
BEFORE WRITING EACH DAY
1. Pray. Spend time asking the Lord what He wants you to write about each day. If your goals change, adjust your plans for the day. Get back on schedule as the Lord leads.
2. Check your calendar. You will have a daily writing prompt, or a specific scene, or an idea of what you want to write each day.
3. Remove distractions. Turn off internet, tell those in your household you are going to be writing.
4. Set timer to allow for hourly breaks. Your brain works better with a 5-10minute break every hour and drink plenty of water.
5. Open your writing app, word document, or a notebook, and start writing. Write.
6. After a short break, regroup, reread what you have written, or keep writing. BUT Don’t edit your work if you want to get the maximum word count.
7. I like to print out what I wrote and make a few notes. Sometimes writing fast and long, I need to process the day’s work.
8. Back up your computer each day so you don’t lose your work.
9. Set reminder to write the next day, or the next session. Use your phone’s app, or a timer.
PRE-PREP WRITING KIT
1. PREPTOBER. Some call this PrepTober in October. These are ideas to help you get the most productive and purposeful time during the Month of Writing.
2. SOUNDTRACK OR PLAYLIST. Create a writing soundtrack or playlist for each mood or genre specific music or sound effects. Use Spotify, iTunes, or your favorite app. I recently found some old LP records of show tunes. But I prefer silence when I write.
3. SOUND EFFECTS. Create a playlist with sound effects if it helps you imagine a specific setting or mood.
4. CALENDAR. your calendar or use NaNo’s calendar or download a friend’s calendar.
5. BACKUP USB or HARD DRIVE. You don’t want to lose your hard work.
6. COLORED NOTECARDS. Write down each scene title on a colored notecard as you write. One color for each POV character. Then you can structure your story scenes with ease after NaNo.
7. OTHER TOOLS. Binder clips, paperclips, stapler, paper punch, staple remover, iPad and pencil, phone, camera, or camera phone, Prismacolor pencils or markers, highlighters, pencils or pens, ruler, tape, password book, chargers, sticky notes, hashtags list, notepaper, notebook, etc.
8. There is also a pdf at the website as a guide. NANO PREP 101 Handbook.
FROM THE WEBSITE: The Course Outline
Develop a Story Idea (September 9-13)
Create Complex Characters (September 16-20)
Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline (September 23-27)
Build a Strong World (September 30 – October 4)
Organize Your Life for Writing! (October 7-11)
Find and Manage Your Time (October 14-18)
PRE-PREP DESK and WRITING SPACE
1. Prepare your writing area and desk space. Clean it up. Remove anything not related to your writing project.
2. Place for water and drinks. A coaster or separate table if you are like me and tend to spill easily!
3. Cup holders for pencils, highlighters and writing tools.
4. Place for printed pages if you print your work each day. A physical paper organizer or file box to store printed copies of your work.
5. Prominent place for USB or hard drive to back-up your work. I often forget this step. This helps me visually SEE my backup source, right next to my computer. Better yet, set your computer to automatically back up during NaNoWriMo.
6. Check for updates to your writing apps and your operating system or app store updates. Don’t forget to update Windows or Mac security BEFORE you start writing so it won’t slow down your work or interrupt your writing.
7. Organize your writing folders. If you create folders to store your work, and name them NANOWRIMO 2019, or whatever you want to remember where to find them, you won’t have a mess like I did my first year of writing. LABEL your folders.
8. Create ONE WORD document called NANO WORD COUNT DUMP. You will copy and past each session’s words into this document. THIS will be your file to VALIDATE your word count at the end of Nano and keep track of the running word count.
9. Post your timeline or graphic of your story on the wall or bulletin board.
10. Post or display character sketches or photographs of each setting or characters for inspiration during your writing session.
11. If you have identified your basic scenes or story structure, display the structure in a prominent place to refer to during writing.
12. Create a simple notebook of reference and research notes ahead of time, if needed, so you are not tempted to start an online research project during writing time.
13. Bookmark reference sites on your browser if you don’t use a physical notebook.
14. Character Sketch notebook. If you have your character sheets, profiles, backstory, etc, keep a notebook or a document under a labeled folder with each character name for easy reference.
1. Menu planning. Can you create simple menus ahead of time?
2. Grocery shopping. Can you buy drinks and snacks for the entire month BEFORE November?
3. Shopping Run. Can you purchase any needed tools or supplies before November?
4. House cleaning. Can you do some deep cleaning before November? Can you delegate some of your household chores to other members of your family? What about hiring someone to help clean?
5. Homework or Work from your day job. Is there anything you can do ahead of time? Is your employer or school willing to give you your assignments early?
6. Blog posts. Can you write November Blog posts during October to have them ready to post? Same for social media posts.
7. Plan for Date nights or special time with your children, even in the middle of writing, take time, make time, for your family.
While NaNoWriMo or Nano-ing wears the title of a writing phenomenon, it shouldn’t take over your life. Take charge of planning now, so you can enjoy the ride come November. And remember. Be kind to those who have never heard of the term Nano-ing. They might just be a recruit for next year’s event.
And don’t forget their free resource called Nano Prep 101 Handbook.
Patricia Tiffany Morris, a three-time NaNo participant since 2018, and a mom who forced her children do NaNo for English literature and creative writing classes while home educating.
Written by Patricia Tiffany Morris
October 10, 2019