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  • J. J. Hanna

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Thirty days of madness.

Thirty days to write 50,000 words.

How do you prepare for something like that? Where do you even begin?

You've come to the right place.

As a NaNoWriMo winner in years past (though not necessarily recent years . . . . heh . . .), I have my fair share of tips about writing a novel in a month. But much of that comes down to how you prepare throughout October so that you are actually capable of writing as much as you need to write in November to hit that goal.

So. How do you do it? How do you prepare for this sort of thing?

This breaks down into a few different sections:

1. The Novel Itself

2. Removing Distractions and Obligations

3. Creating the Space to Succeed

When it comes to preparing for writing the novel itself, there are a few ways you can go about it. For example, if you're a planner and you must have an outline, write that outline ahead of time. If you need Pinterest pages full of pictures of your characters or aesthetic boards for the novel, make them in October. Do all of the dreaming and scheming you can do short of writing the novel in October. So that means anything like character interviews, backstories, outlines, and the other pre-writing you have to do in order to feel ready to tackle the actual writing when November hits. Do the prep work so you're ready to sit down and write.

For some, this will take longer than others. I am a minimalistic plotter, and have written many a novel with no pre-planned plot at all. I don't need to do this step. Others do. So if you do, get it out of the way now. That way you're actually ready to write come November.

But what about removing distractions and obligations? How do you do that? After all, as an author now-a-days we're also social media gurus, influences, vloggers, consultants, and probably on top of that working at least one other non-writing job (unless we're lucky enough to be full-time writers). Throughout October, write and schedule the blog posts for November. Or choose to take a blog hiatus so that you don't have to blog during November and that writing time can go toward your novel. After all, you're taking on a huge feat and you only have so many hours in a day. Let those hours go toward you goal rather than your obligations. Schedule tweets. Schedule Facebook posts. Create all of your instagram posts ahead of time so the actual posting only takes a few seconds of your day. Anything that can be done ahead of time should be done ahead of time. Film, edit, and schedule those YouTube videos. Do what you have to do now so you can buckle down later.

I did this last year pretty successfully. For my YouTube channel and Twitter, I had the "Vlog Villain Takeover," where the character of the Vlog Villain "hacked" my channel and posted weekly about her villainous endeavors to stop me from writing throughout November. Not only did I have fun with this, but I was able to schedule things in advance so we'd be set when it came down to November arriving. All I had to do each week was share the link on my social media. That takes about five seconds. And then I could go back to writing.

And finally, when it comes to creating the space to succeed, clear off your desk. Get your coziest blankets out. Get your favorite mug ready. Set up your document so that, if necessary, you can type those daily word count goals on your phone. Do what you have to do to help yourself succeed. By creating a writing space, whenever you sit down to write you'll be triggering your mind into entering into your story faster and faster each day.

Start waking up earlier now so you have those hours before work come November. Begin training your body to be prepared to type for as long as it takes to hit that goal. Learn what your limits are (I can write about 700 words before I need a break) so you can be prepared to take that break and come back to it. (I'm lucky in that if I hit that point, I can get up, get a fresh cup of coffee, come back and start over fresh again for another 700 words. That may not be the case for you. Learn what kind of writer you are so you can best help yourself succeed.)

NaNoWriMo is not easy, by any means. But it doesn't have to be impossible. There are ways to prepare for this amazing endeavor so that you can succeed. Bend the rules if you need to. Don't work on a novel, but try to write 50k words of poems or blog posts or anything else you want to make progress on. Shake off the bad writing days where you didn't write at all, and keep moving forward.

I'm rooting for you. Now go out there and slay this November.


J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.

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