September is upon us and I’d like to take a moment to reach out to my fellow writers. Like me, you may be anxiously waiting for November, so that you can begin another NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) challenge. But you may not be aware that September kicks off the NaNoWriMo Prep Season, a time when writers prepare for the upcoming word marathon.
The first few years I participated in NaNoWriMo, I did not plan very much at all. In fact, I simply waited for November 1st and then put everything together in my head—and on paper. I had to sort out through ideas, research, character building, scene breakdowns, and more. It was exhausting and definitely not productive. The entire goal of NaNoWriMo is to dedicate thirty days to writing—just writing! For this reason, preparing for November is imperative.
In his Writer’s Digest guest post, author Kevin Kaiser reminds us that NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the next great American Novel, but simply to complete the challenge.
Kevin says, “Once you have a skeleton framework, start. Act. Write. Don’t get preparation paralysis. The only way to write a novel is one word at a time. The only way to write each of those words, however unsatisfactory they might be, is to write them. Books don’t write themselves.”
I need a great amount of resources to feel inspired to write. I find it hard to relax and let the words roll, as the impulse to outline, brainstorm ideas, and research are an instrumental part of my writing. For this reason, the couple of months before November should be reserved for those who like me need a little groundwork before the big challenge.
I believe that having a prepping season takes away some of the stress of finding the tools and resources needed to write. Once you compile a list of everything you need, you can just focus on writing.
First, utilize these prep months to find a support network. Finding other writers, specifically those registered to participate in NaNoWriMo, will connect you to people who can support you on your journey. The NaNoWriMo forum is the first place you should check out. But don’t forget to engage in social media, a great tool in finding fellow writers. Just use #NaNoWriMo and you’ll find several groups that participate in word count challenges and much more.
Writer Jennifer Mattern shares some tips in her article written for AllIndieWriters.com. She writes, “While you can always leave placeholders in your NaNo first draft where more research is needed, having some of that work done could help you reach your 50k words even faster.” Spend time researching a topic now and compile it in a word document of folder. Use tabs to organize your research so that it’s easily accessible.
Sometimes writing ideas will pop up into your head, although unrelated to each other. That’s okay. Jot down any idea on flash cards and use them to brainstorm later. What seems disconnected now may create a new inspiration later, especially if it’s mid November and your word count is low.
The ultimate prep tool is understanding the direction you want to go this November. Are you aiming to complete a work in progress? Are you starting something from scratch? Get a clear picture of what you’ll be working on and outline the skeleton of your story. It doesn’t have to be detailed, you only need to have a rough idea of what you want to write.
A little preparation can facilitate a successful November challenge. How do you plan on preparing the next couple of months? What tips can you share?