Top Five Ways to Prep for NaNoWriMo

KJ Here! It’s not Monday, I know. And Top Five Mondays have been on hiatus (watch for an entire collection of them heading out to our supporters soon). But in case you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, I wanted to drop this back into your inbox. My NaNo efforts last year fell by the wayside when I had to go back to revising a current project—but this year I am ALL IN.

If NaNoWriMo is in your plans too, then now is a brilliant time to invest in figuring out what it is you want to put that glorious 50K word goal toward. You probably know that I’m a big fan of outlining, but even if you’re not, the odds of ending the month with something useful increase exponentially with every hour you put into trying to figure out what it is you want to get out of it. Here, some ideas for NaNoWriMo Prep.

  1. Nail down your basics. Find your logline, your idea, the very core of your project. Who is it about, what world do they live in, what is it they want and why can’t they just go get it. Bonus points if that “why” includes both the world getting in their way, and them getting in their own way.

  2. Work through some story-telling prompts--no, not “imagine you get a box delivered to your door. What’s in it?” but useful prompts, like the ones you’ll find in Author Accelerator’s free 5 day Writing Challenge, which asks questions like “why this book” and “what’s your back cover copy”? The result can really help keep you on track as you write, and I highly recommend.

  3. Take it to the next level and put together a simple outline. You could splurge on Tiffany Yates Martin’s 5 Steps to Creating an Airtight Plot (on sale for $50, and we don’t get anything from telling you that, I just like it), or grab one of my favorite outlining books and follow along. It doesn’t matter what you use--what matters is that you can see a beginning, a middle and an end to your story.

  4. Go next level and figure out what to write when. If you’ve got an outline, and you know you’re going to write 1667 words a day, why not assign those words where they matter? Instead of starting at the beginning and writing until you hit 50K, make some choices. Write 10K of a beginning, 30K of middle and 10K of end and don’t WORRY about getting them perfect--they won’t be, and they wouldn’t be if you had all the time in the world and all the tea in England. But they will be something--and unlike most Nano writers, who end up at 50K words somewhere right around the end of the middle of their book--you’ll have a whole draft to expand on. I’m going to try this and I’m really excited about it.

  5. Spend some quality time with your calendar and set yourself up for success. Not going to write on Thanksgiving? Then that’s 1725 words a day on all the other days. Know the morning of the second Tuesday will be spent at the orthodontist? Block off some afternoon or evening hours. You see where I’m going here. 

If you’re going to do this thing, DO THIS THING. And tell us about it in the Facebook Group—or watch your email for something new: a Substack discussion thread coming your way next week.