How do you prepare to write 50,000 words in a single month? The same way you would any other time. It’s easy to feel like it’s overwhelming or you don’t know how to do it because participating in NaNo is such a big undertaking. (Or, is that just me?) But you’re not preparing for NaNo, you’re preparing to write, and NaNo just happens to be the backdrop. (It’s a slight mental shift, but make it if it helps.)
So, if you’ve written before—a novel, half a novel, a short story, whatever—you know how you like to prepare. Maybe you don’t prep at all and jump into November with nothing more than an idea in your brain. Or, maybe you spend all of October agonizing over every detail of the plot and character sketches and head into November with nothing left to chance. I’ve done it both ways (though how I went from a “pantser” to a “plotter” is a story for another time). But my point is, you know what works for you.
I don’t really recommend switching styles going into NaNo. Stick with what you know works for you, and then switch it up and play around with prepping strategies for your next writing project. Although, if whatever you’ve been doing isn’t working for you, then maybe now is the time to try a new way because you’ll have a community of other writers going through this same, slightly insane journey who will be able to help guide and encourage you to push through as you work.
If you haven’t written before, then I commend you for making NaNoWriMo your first foray into writing. Again, you’re entering into a super supportive community of writers, so that’s awesome. It’s also a killer way to kick off your daily writing habit—with 1,667 words per day. But take some time to poke around the writing resources on their website. They’ll help you figure out whether you want to go pantser or plotter this time around.
But for those of you who are like, “Hey, I’m here for some Preptober advice,” then keep reading. Here’s my to-do list for Preptober 2018:
1) Make a new Scrivener file (Or get a new notebook or open a new Word doc, etc. Do you.)
2) Brain dump/free write – I really just write everything down. If my mind wanders, I let it because you never know what ideas you might dredge up. Although, my brain dumps have been known to have “buy celery” or other random thoughts in there too. So, there’s that.
3) Reread brain dump and highlight the gems – You can color code this part too. I have different colors for plot definites, plot maybes, character info, and setting/world building.
4) Create an outline, character sketches, and detailed world building info – I include these as one bullet point even though they’re multiple tasks because they all inform one another. I do make my character sketches first because they really affect the plot, but there’s still some jumping around.
5) Draw any maps you need – This can mean maps of whole countries or cities, but it can also mean that maybe I sketch the layout of a house or a specific room my characters will be spending a lot of time in.
- Create Pinterest board for inspiration
- Make writing playlist on Spotify
- Input project information into NaNoWriMo’s website
- Set up word tracker
Then, when all of that’s done, rest up and hoard all of the snacks because November is coming.