|Photo Credit: Transformnation.com|
Good luck with that.
Really, I do wish you the best of luck (and maybe you're one of those rare kinds of people who can jump into a project with zero planning), but I would hate to see you squander an entire month for lack of preparation. So, let's rewind a bit...
You still have over two weeks until National Novel Writing Month, so that's a good chunk of time to prepare and lay out your game plan. But how to do it? How should you prepare for a month of fervid writing?
Glad you asked.
1. Write every day
NOW is the time to start writing every day, not the beginning of November. It takes time to adapt a new habit, and writing every day is not something that comes easily if you're out of practice. Set aside some time every day (maybe in the morning before work or during your lunch break or, if you're like me, late in the evening after your brain's had a rest) and make sure you do nothing but write during that time. Close Facebook, put your phone on silent, and let your housemate(s) know that you need some time to yourself for an hour. And then get to it. You don't have to write anything grand or even cohesive as long as you're writing. If your writing begins to evolve into something bigger, great! Go with it. Think about how your scribbles might turn into a larger story. And if not, that's perfectly fine; you're just gearing up.
PRO TIP: Having trouble coming up with something to write about? Try using writing prompts. You can find some great writing prompts on this subreddit or some clever prompts on Writing Prompts That Don't Suck or some Halloween-themed prompts on my blog.
2. Create an Outline
Do you honestly think you're going to write the next great American novel without a proper outline? Maybe if your name is Jack Kerouac, but not if you're an average Tom, Dick, or Harry. If you have an idea (or the faint spark of an idea) burning in your brain for November, take the time to flesh it out. No, give it bones first. Then, flesh it out.
There are lots of ways to do this. My favorite method? Taking a gigantic pad of paper (mine is about 32" x 27") and creating a mind map. My mind map usually involves plot tangents and character outlines. It's a great way to get your thoughts out on paper and visualize how different ideas might tie together.
|A mind map I made once to sort shit out.|
3. Set Bite-Sized Goals
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a novel sitting in front of you, ready to be written, and you're on page...four. Don't let yourself feel the pressure of the entire 250 page novel weighing down on your shoulders. Instead, break down your overarching goal in smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time. Some examples:
"I'm going to write three pages each day."
"I will write 15 pages by the end of each week."
"I'm going to write for an hour every day."
"I will write 400 words each day."
Put your goals on a calendar; keep them visible; refer to them when you're having an off day or are feeling unmotivated. And don't forget to reward yourself when you achieve a goal (Hooray! You wrote 20 pages this week! Have some ice cream...).
If you find that your goals aren't quite attainable, rethink think them and forge ahead. Don't be discouraged because you missed a day or didn't quite make your weekly goal. Also, don't be afraid to call upon your cheerleaders when you need help (which leads us to tip #4...)
4. Gather Your Team!
It's easy to slack off or lose motivation as the month wears on. You might quietly begin to skip a day or two of writing. You might become discouraged by the direction your writing has taken. So, you toss your writing in the proverbial drawer and think, "There's always next year."
STOP BEING SUCH A WHINER AND KEEP WRITING!
That's what you need someone to say to you when you're feeling this way (or maybe you just need someone to say, "You can do it, champ!"). It's way too easy to lose steam and bow out of NaNoWriMo if you have no one but yourself holding you accountable for you actions.
A) Continuously ask you about your writing,
B) Be a constant cheerleader/motivator/heckler/ shoulder to cry on and
C) Be juuust distant enough to allow you to get some damn writing done.
Tell this person (or people) about your intentions for November and figure out a check-in system. Maybe you text them every day to say, "Yup, I'm writing." Or maybe they call you every week to check your progress. Or, if you live with your cheerleader, you might briefly talk about your writing every night at dinner.
Whatever the case, it is incredibly helpful to have others looking over your shoulder, so to speak. That way, when you're thinking about quitting and your main character has somehow worked herself into a dire situation and you're unsure how to dig her out, you can turn to your support team and lean on them for advice, motivation, or just a listening ear.
5. Be Realistic
Realize that a month is a reeeeally short amount of time to write a novel (or novella or even a short story). Don't be hard on yourself if you fall behind or your writing is less than your best. If you write every day and put in an honest effort, that's enough. Really, it is. It's a hell of a lot more than other people are doing in November. Most people are griping about the chilly weather or worrying about packing on holiday pounds and you, YOU, my friend, are attempting to write a novel. Bully for you! That's wonderful!
Now, go get 'em, soldier! November's claws will be planted in your leg before you know it and you'd better have a plan or you'll slowly bleed out as the 30 days pass you by. Instead, take November by the scruff, give it a shake, and start writing! Best of luck out there.
And, by the way...Keep in touch! Tell me what you're writing this November and what progress you've made. I'd love to hear from you!