5 Things You Can Do Today to Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

31 Oct

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?


Tags: ,

31 responses to “5 Things You Can Do Today to Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

  1. Janis McCurry

    October 31, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    Very timely tips. Thanks Clarissa.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      Thank you, Janis. Are you were participating? I know you’re busy writing new words. Love the new photo.

  2. ramblingsfromtheleft

    October 31, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    Although I will not be participating, I wish you and all of those who do the very best. Write well, write stong and write on 🙂

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      Thank you for the encouragement. Right back at you 🙂

  3. Susan Russo Anderson

    October 31, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    Thanks so much for this post. I can attest to Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. Really helpful and a clear vision. She advocates a very simple way of pre-planning by using index cards. And have fun all you NaNoWriMo authors!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      Alex’s index card and 8 sequence structure has saved me more than once. I always go back to it when I’m stuck. Thanks for commenting, Susan!

  4. johannaharness

    October 31, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    I love the energy of NaNo. Even though I’m not participating, I always benefit from the contact buzz. Great tips! Thank you.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      Johanna, We will miss you at Nano. Good luck with those revisions. 🙂

  5. Shen Hart

    October 31, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Some great tips, I’d like to add –
    Sort out your sleep pattern! Personally, I get up at 5am for work so making sure my sleep pattern is absolutely spot on will be key to this NaNoWriMo.

  6. Judith Keim

    October 31, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    I just finished a FAST DRAFT exercise – 5,000 words per day…It’s very revealing when your mind takes off and your fingers are flying. You can come up with some really nice stuff. It works a lot better if you have a very good idea what your major plot points are!! Good luck with this, everyone!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      Thank you for the tip and encouragement, Judy. I haven’t tried Fast Draft. I’ll have to look into it.

  7. Susan Russo Anderson

    October 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    And I read a post—can’t find it now—advocating 10,000 words per day (with breaks every two hours). I tried it once, got close to 3,000 words and collapsed. But I guess pushing the envelope and overcoming block is what it’s all about.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      I can’t imagine writing 10,000 words in a day. I usually aim for 2000, but keep going if I’m on a role. Thanks, Susan.

  8. Peggy Staggs

    October 31, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Those are great tips for any time. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 31, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Hi Peggy! Too bad you have such a great excuse, or I would be nagging you to NaNo. Next year. . .

  9. MKHutchins

    October 31, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Good luck to everyone doing NaNoWriMo! I’m afraid I’m going to be doing editing instead, but it’s always fun to see the energy in the writing community during November.

  10. Clarissa Southwick

    October 31, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Good luck with the edits, MK. Maybe next year?

  11. Amanda Pettit

    October 31, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    I like your suggestions. I also think mindset is huge – I’ve been thinking about NaNoWriMo for months and months, and while I don’t know what will come out of my fingertips when I sit down to type, I’m ready to write! Oh, and I love the idea of having the Hero’s Journey steps at hand. Thanks!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:16 PM

      Good luck, Amanda! I hope you don’t mind if I add you to my buddy list 🙂

  12. Meredith Conner

    October 31, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    I signed up for NaNo month and then sliced the heck out of my finger so . . . we’ll see. I like to outline – just the basics – and that keeps me on track and yet still allows room for my pantser side to add in all sorts of goodies. Good luck to everyone!!!!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      Hi Meredith! I tried to buddy with you but couldn’t find you? Good luck if you’re participating. I know it must be hard with the injured finger.

  13. Debby Lee

    October 31, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Great tips Clarissa, I got my kids to clean the house and I’m stocking the pantry today before trick or treating. My car is cleaned out and I’ve got a ridimetary plot going, even though I’m a panster. The only thing I’m worried about, I think I’m coming down with a cold. I’ll have to add to my to do list, take lots of vitamin C. 🙂

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Hi Debby! You got your kids to clean the house? That’s worthy of an award right there. Good luck on the Nano. I’ll have to make sure you’re on my buddy list.

  14. Liz Fredericks

    October 31, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    I probably won’t sign up for NaNo, but do plan to write like a madwoman. You’re dead on about how useful Sokolow’s structure is. I swear by it since you directed me to her website.Thanks, Clarissa!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

      Good luck with the madwoman writing. I can’t wait to read it, Liz.

  15. Carley Ash

    October 31, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    It sounds so exciting. Good luck to all who are participating.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      Thanks for the well wishes, Carley!

  16. Gabrielle

    October 31, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    I got my shopping delivered the weekend before and saved a bunch of slow-cooker recipes–am making a turkey nacho casserole right now. I’ve also pinned up my 90-dat At a Glance calendar and written in the cumulative daily word count to keep me on track. And I’ve installed Freedom internet blocker, which I’m about to activate in 3, 2, 1… 🙂 Have fun, everyone!

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      Hi Gabrielle, I’m so glad NaNo has let us buddy up this year. It’s inspiring to try to keep up with you.
      Good luck!

  17. Mary Vine

    November 1, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    It’s all in the planning before hand isn’t it? I noticed that you said you were a panster, but yet you do some planning before hand. We all need a little. I will have to check out Alex’s website, too. I won’t be participating in NaNo

    • Clarissa Southwick

      November 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      Hi Mary,

      You’re right I do plan in my head. I just don’t write it down 🙂 Maybe next year for Nano?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: