About the Post

Author Information

Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo in 4 Easy Steps

National Novel Writing Month (shortened as “NaNoWriMo“) is an annual creative writing competition that takes place in November and pits participants against a 50,000 word deadline for their novel. In years past, many of our own writers have shared tips to help you complete your novel, however, my goal is to share a few of my strategies as I prepare to participate for the first time and hopefully help those people that are considering doing the same.

Baty, Grant and Stewart-Steit’s workbook “Ready, Set, Novel!” will help aspiring writer’s prepare for NaNoWriMo [credit: Amazon.com]

Participants will begin writing their novel on the 1st of November and must be complete by midnight on the 30th day of the month to be declared a winner. This amounts to about 1,667 words a day or, according to NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty in his book No Plot? No Problem! (available on Amazon) about an hour and a half of “work” per day.

For those already facing stress at home and deadlines at work or school, carving out an hour and a half of time for 30 days sounds like a monumental task in itself, let alone churning out a literary masterpiece in that time, but Baty and other NaNoWriMo winners have several tips for crossing the finish line before the final day with your sanity in tact:

Preparation is key

There are plenty of reasons and ways to prepare. As Baty notes, participants will likely find themselves distracted from their goal by family and friends. If you tell your family and friends about your goal and why it is important to you, they can instead become your cheerleaders.

Another important reason to prepare is to make sure you don’t neglect your other duties. Stock up on healthy meals, snacks, and beverages and make a schedule that’s reasonable and flexible to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise on top of satisfying your creative hunger. A comfortable place to write is also important to avoid distractions and the harmful effects of neck or eye strain.

Plan, but not too much

In his book, Baty and other NaNoWriMo winners recommend a certain level of planning before you dive headfirst into your novel writing adventure. As our writer DeShawn Blankenship wrote, the actual amount of preparation required depends on your own comfort level. Some writers caution against over preparation, which can lead a writer to become exhausted of their novel before they’ve even begun the writing process. For those looking to brainstorm characters, plots, and settings a workbook written by Baty along with fellow writers Lindsey Grant and Tavia Stewart-Streit entitled Ready, Set, Novel! (available on Amazon) is a great way to do so.

Connect with other writers

In addition to family and friends, other NaNoWriMo participants can be good to help motivate your or to bounce ideas off of. The project’s official website features forums where writers can connect with others around the world, but there are also local chapters where writers can meet in person to discuss ideas or write together. Using someone else’s progress to pace yourself might just be the motivation you need to get to fifty thousand words before the month’s end.

Ignore your inner perfectionist

Those new to the world of novel writing should heed Baty’s warning about striving for perfection. Ernest Hemingway himself recognized that the first draft of anything is generally terrible. Writers will be given the chance to go back and edit after the 30 days are over, but Baty says that editing often leads to doubting your abilities and stifling your creativity. Many NaNoWriMo winners can attest to the fact that some of their best plot twists or character quirks came from moments of spontaneity as they raced to complete the first draft of their novel. For once, quantity is more important than quality.

For those looking to participate before November, I recommend checking out our NaNoWriMo tag for more tips and tricks, as well as the NaNoWriMo website.

If you are participating, let us know how you’re preparing for next month’s marathon of words in the comments below!

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6 Comments on “How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo in 4 Easy Steps”

  1. guyportman October 3, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    Good tips Andrew. Perhaps I will give NaNoWriMo a go one of these days.

  2. TheIdiotAuthor October 3, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi Andrew. What has your personal experience been with NaNoWriMo? I’ve never attempted it mostly because I like to produce a first draft that is at least further along in polish than what I’m able to do with such time-constricted writing. Doesn’t rushing through the first draft increase the amount of editing and rewriting needed later? I know people who swear by NaNoWriMo, so I’m interested in how you approach this issue. Thanks!

    • Andrew Rogers October 4, 2017 at 10:47 am #

      This is my first year as well. I can definitely see the logic behind your thinking, that rushing the first draft would lead to more editing, but Baty in his book says NaNoWriMo is a great way to motivate people who have always wanted to write a novel but can never find the time or motivation, which is my problem. I have all these ideas for novels in my head but they never make their way on to paper, so hopefully this event will help me do that with at least one of them! Maybe I’ll even discover that novel writing isn’t for me and have a newfound respect and appreciation for authors and their books, who knows?

  3. Matthew October 13, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I’m trying NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.

    • Andrew Rogers October 13, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      Same here! Good luck! If you’re using the official website, my username is sublymonal there. Add me!

      • Matthew October 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

        Thanks, I’ll look you up. My name there is homedaddy.

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