While most Americans are carving jack o’lanterns and designing Halloween costumes, writers across the globe are spending the day preparing for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as participants affectionately call November.
For those who are not familiar with the challenge, Johanna Harness wrote a wonderful blog post last week extolling the 200,000 NaNoers who commit to writing a novel, or at least 50,000 words, in one month.
For those who have already decided to participate, I questioned NaNo alumni and searched the internet for tips on how to best spend these last 24 hours preparing for the big event.
Here are their best tips on how to get ready for NaNoWriMo:
Discover your support systems. Register with the national site. It’s full of great tools, advice, and inspiration. While you’re there, be sure to check out the NaNo Near You section. Find out about write-ins, writing sprints, and celebrations. In Boise, the kickoff party will held at Rediscovered Books on Monday, October 31 from 10:00pm to 2:00pm.
Explain to your family what you’ll be doing. Tell them specific ways they can help out. Establish rules for interrupting and delegate chores. This is the perfect time for your kids to show you how independent they can be.
The Write Stuff. Every writer has his own unique way of preparing to write a novel. Plotters will tell you to prepare an outline, synopsis, index cards, or character profile ahead of time. As a total pantser, I won’t do any of that. However, I do find it helpful to keep a copy of the Hero’s Journey steps and Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors close at hand. They’re both great for jumpstarting a stalled story.
Stock Up. Fewer trips to the store mean more time to write. You’ll want to have plenty of ink, notecards, and paper. Many writers suggested that now was the perfect time to invest in writing software such as The Write Way or Scrivener.
Don’t stop at writing supplies. Fill the gas tank and the pantry. Consider letting the kids make the grocery list. It will cut down all on those Mom-there’s-nothing-to-eat-in-the-house interruptions.
Clean House. This goes beyond setting up your writing space. Try to get all of those time-consuming chores out of the way today so they won’t interrupt your writing time next month. Do the laundry. Vacuum the car. Feed the lawn. Clean the aquarium. Get rid of anything that will distract you from writing. Find your slow cooker and the recipes that go with it. That’s an extra half-hour of writing time every day, right there.
Plan Your Writing Time. To succeed at NaNo, you only need to write 1,667 words a day, but finding the time to write those words can be a real challenge. Today, search your schedule for regularly wasted minutes, the half-hour spent waiting to pick up the carpool, the twenty minute latte run. Figure out how to turn them into writing minutes. If NaNo means getting up early or staying up late, figure out how you’re going to manage that. Create a back-up plan in case life gets in the way. And don’t forget to schedule some time for exercise and relaxation. You can’t write if you get sick.
There you have my tips for last minute NaNo preparation. What’s your best advice for getting ready for NaNo or any other major writing challenge?