Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Next month marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short—in which aspiring authors everywhere commit to writing at least 50,000 words in 30 days. NaNoWriMo has been around since 1999 and officially became a nonprofit in 2005, with a mission of helping authors young and old have the drive and inspiration necessary to put their words down on paper. If you’re one of the many looking forward to this year’s NaNoWriMo, you may be curious as to how you can prepare yourself ahead of time to reach your best potential. Get out your notebook and pencil and start jotting down these ideas!

Decide on a Plot

If you sit down to write on November 1st with nothing to write about, you’re going to waste valuable writing time. Although no words written before the 1st count towards your 50,000 words, that doesn’t mean you can’t dream up your story ahead of time. At a minimum, before the first, you should have some idea of what genre you want to write in and what you want your story to be about.

Struggling for inspiration? Carry a notebook around with you for a couple of days. Write down any ideas that come to you and any weird dreams you might have. Afterward, review your notes. You’re sure to have something jump out of you that you’re dying to write about. If your fingers are itching to start on the story before the 1st, you know you’ve found the right idea!

Outline Your Story

Many authors like to let their story play itself out, at least to some extent. However, there’s a common trend that in the middle of November, writers may find themselves feeling “stuck,” not knowing where their story is going or how to get there. Avoid that common NaNoWriMo pitfall by creating at least a basic outline of your story ahead of time. At a minimum, know about where you want to start, where you want to be at the middle, and how you want to end. That way, if you get stuck during November, you at least have a destination in mind.

Design Some Character Sketches

Characters are the heartbeat of any good novel, and as such, you want to make sure you have characters you can live and breathe with for the whole 30 days. Though you can’t start writing your novel yet, you can definitely start writing about your characters. Decide on names, ages, hopes, and dreams. Try interviewing your characters to ensure you know as much about them as you can before November hits.

Now that you have a plot and some characters in mind, you’re all set for November 1st to roll along. Use the time between now and then to think about your plot and start pre-writing in your head. When November gets here, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can put word to paper.