NaNoWriMo is the ultimate challenge for a writer. It requires focus, endurance, and planning. To finish strong and come out as a winner is the ultimate prize, but forgetting the basics will leave you bleeding out on the battlefield before the halfway point.
To help you set up for a successful November, I’m here with a little Preptober pep talk that will have you raring to go November 1, well equipped for the mushy middle, and primed for victory.
Protect Your Time. We joke that during NaNoWriMo, you can kiss your social life goodbye. I don’t worry too much about becoming a lonely shut-in strapped to a keyboard—especially thanks to the millions of other writers participating. But grand-scale goals do require sacrifice. If it takes you two hours to write 16,50 words, you have to protect that writing time, even if it means saying ‘no’ once in a while.
Be Strategic. If you’re a Plotter, you would probably have some sort of outline prepared to help you check off chapters and stay on schedule. But I’m a Pantser, and thinking ahead doesn’t look quite the same. For me, being prepared means:
~marking off time to write with friends on the calendar
~fetching my writing snacks and planning a November menu
~trying to get ahead on word count when I don’t have to work/plans
~having a list of games or writing prompts for slow days
~knowing which days I can’t write and let them to be a guilt-free day off
Whatever your method, going in feeling organized, rested, and ready to crush it will make things go a lot smoother.
Armor Up. NaNoWriMo is fun, but it’s also hard work. You’re going to get frustrated, have some tough days, and will probably need to make some difficult decisions along the way. It’s easy to get discouraged and want to quit, so find ways to keep yourself energized, invested, and creatively-charged.
~invite a friend to participate or become your accountability partner
~pick a favorite quote and make it your personal NaNoWriMo mantra
~celebrate small milestones in ways that help boost your motivation
~make time for things you enjoy like gaming, painting, or chilling with your pets
~check out how other writers are faring on Twitter and maybe join a word sprint or two
Save Everything. Rule number one of NaNoWriMo is Keep Everything. Keep sections you’ll want to cut and multiple versions of the same dialogue. Keep copy/pasted research. Keep personal notes. Is it messy? Yes. But all of it counts as writing. You gain nothing by deleting entire paragraphs and culling out chapters during NaNoWriMo.
The second piece of advice is to keep your project backed up. Regularly. In at least three places. It’s a hard-learned lesson for some of us, but trust me, it’s no fun to try and redo the work you’d already locked in before Mr. Virus came to visit.
Equip Yourself. As with any occupation, writers have access to many tools and trade secrets. As soon as you put a bunch of us together, ideas start flying. NaNoWriMo is an awesome time to learn about new writing techniques and interesting genres, get recommendations for great resources and books on craft, and meet enthusiastic peers and patient mentors. You’ll walk away with a treasure trove of new information and friends. But beware the temptation!
NaNoWriMo is not the best time to stop everything and set up a new program or start studying up on how to pitch a book that isn’t even written. Make a note of the advice you’d like to look into later, but keep your focus fixed on the task at hand.
What are your Preptober tips? Feel free to share in the comments!