The countdown to National Novel Writing Month is now down to single digits, so it’s understandable if your excitement or anxiety about the annual writing challenge is off the charts already. Luckily, there’s still time for last-minute NaNoWriMo prep. Taking certain steps in the lead-up to November could make for a more successful month of writing.
With its 30-day, 50,000-word goal, NaNoWriMo is a daunting undertaking. Millions of writers, armed with ambitious optimism, participate each year, but not surprisingly, only some manage to “win.” Accomplishing the feat requires a huge time investment, and not all of it comes between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. As the saying goes, the separation is in the preparation, and that part of the process comes earlier.
A week may not seem like enough time to make much of a difference, but you’d be surprised by what you can get done in that time. It’s not too late to decrease your stress, increase your know-how, and get your head in the game. If you’re going to do NaNoWriMo, you should do it right, starting now.
With just a week to go until NaNoWriMo begins, here are six things you should do before you get writing on Nov. 1:
1. Set A Schedule
The challenge of NaNoWriMo is finding the time to write a whole lot of words in just a short period of time; to hit the 50,000-word goal, you’ll have to average about 1,667 words per day for the entire month. Obviously, that means you need to plan regular dates with your computer. Look at your calendar for the month to make sure you can squeeze them in. It’ll help if you can anticipate the days when you’ll be too busy to write and decide in advance when you’ll make up the words.
Everyone has their own approach to writing, but since winning NaNoWriMo requires speed, you’ll thank yourself later if you take the time to pre-write now. I can tell you from experience that if you don’t know your story or characters well enough, your project may stall mid-month. Spending some time with your novel idea, fleshing out your characters and their backstories, and doing your research before Nov. 1 will improve your chances of hitting 50,000 words.
3. Establish Your Support System
The road to 50,000 words is smoother with a support team. Whether you want to count on fellow WriMos or other friends and family, it helps to have others hold you accountable and cheer you on when you need it. They’ll be the ones to talk you down when you’re wondering what possessed you to take on such a monumental task in the first place — and the ones to toast you once you hit your goal.
4. Read Up On Tips And Tricks
NaNoWriMo has its ups and downs, but there is a wealth of advice out there that will make you more likely to stay on the ride. Take advantage of tips and tricks. They could be the difference between you winning and flinging your laptop out the window.
5. Get Your Writing Space Ready
The hours that you’ll be spending at the keyboard this November will be a lot more pleasant if your set-up is comfortable. Make sure you have a space where you can be productive, whether that be in your home, at a library, in a cafe, or elsewhere.
6. Get Pumped Up
Get psyched for NaNoWriMo now. Win or lose, the experience will be valuable for you. You’ll either come out the other side with the first draft of a novel (fingers crossed!), or you’ll learn a host of valuable lessons.