Whether you are a newbie or a novice, there is no denying that NaNoWriMo never gets any less intimidating. C’mon. The idea of writing 50,000 in the space of 30 days is absolutely crazy when you really think about it.
I’m a big believer that preparation is most definitely the key to success, in anything – not just NaNoWriMo – so here are my Top Five Tips to help you to prepare for one of the biggest writing challenges of the year.
#1 Find a Support Group
This doesn’t have to be a literal support group. It could be your friends and family, people you talk to on Facebook or Twitter, fellow writers or even a community of people who will also taking part.
I find that other people taking part are a much better supportive unit than people who aren’t, because ultimately you are all in the same metaphorical boat. However, friends and family can be supportive in their own ways, perhaps by offering rewards and encouragement when you achieve specific milestones, or maybe just by understanding that you won’t necessarily be prioritising Friday Night pints for the whole of November. And they might even forgive you – a little – if you forget their birthday!
#2 Have a Plan
Last year, the only plan that I put together were wishy-washy “this happens in each chapter” type things, but they didn’t come together very well, and as a result about half way through the month, my story began to fall apart.
Some people write better completely without a plan, but for me personally, I find that I tend to stray into shady territory if I don’t. I just write and write and write, and the next thing I know I’ve gotten too deep into the unknown, with no idea which direction I’m heading in, no idea where I want to go and most importantly I haven’t got a clue how to get there. But, maybe the worst part is that I’ve usually gotten so far that I don’t know how to step back, especially during NaNoWriMo when going backwards isn’t even an option!!
#3 Start Writing Early
I’m not necessarily encouraging you to start working on your Novel before the beginning of November. However, during October is a great time to analyse your time so that you can find a time of day – preferably every day – that you can sit down and do some writing. For most people, sitting down and writing at the same time each day works well, whilst for others this isn’t always an option.
I like to start getting into a routine of writing throughout October, just so that it feels more natural when I absolutely have to do it.
Tip: If you do find yourself struggling to actually get something down, set a timer for around 15 minutes and just write. It doesn’t matter what you write, it can be absolute rubbish. Write out the lyrics to your favourite song. Write out a conversation between you and your friends, or even better between your characters. It might seem pointless, but it is amazing how often this branches into something more productive.
#4 Give yourself Goals
Just like people reward children for good behaviour, consider setting yourself a few goals for November. Then once you meet those goals, decide on a reward for yourself. Perhaps a piece of jewellery that you’ve been eyeing up. The rewards can build up to better stuff once you nearer your overall goal of 50,000 words (or higher, if you’re feeling daring!).
#5 Face your Challenge!
50,000 words is a lot of words, there is absolutely no denying it, and writing those words in 30 days is daunting. But, people have done it. You can do it too. It really is incredible what all of us can do if we just put our minds to it. Just believe that you can, and you will.
Never give up believing that you will achieve what you set out to achieve.