Monday, October 13, 2014

Prepare Yourselves: NaNo is Coming.

Five NaNoWriMo Prep Steps

It's mid-October. Leaves are falling, Halloween costume selections are dwindling, and it is THE TIME to get prepped for National Novel Writing Month

How much should you prep for NaNoWriMo? Some people prep for months. I do not. But I do think that whether you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser, having a few ducks in a row before November 1st couldn't hurt. 

Here are five, last-minute prep steps I'm taking to try and get my NaNo WIN. You still have a couple weeks, so if you haven't already, why not:   


1) Get your research out of the way. Whether you have just a vague idea of your story's setting (maybe near Devil's Tower?)  or you are absolutely certain your protagonist will need to know the hunting habits of a prehistoric mosasaur, NOW is the time to get those details in order. My NaNo project will feature a colony of bats. I know more waaay more about bats than I need to. But I won't waste any precious time in November looking up the average lifespan of a Townsend's big-eared bat. (16 years, btw)

2) Jot down a tagline. If you have a general idea about your storyline, you could try writing a one-to-two sentences summary. It could give you more focus. 

Example from the screenplay Pirates of the Caribbean: 
A 17th Century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England's daughter and reclaim his ship.

There are still plenty of holes to fill in the Pirates of the Caribbean example, but it gives you some framework. 

3) Make a few character sketches.  You'll be spending a lot of time with these characters over the next few weeks. If you have an idea who will be starring as your cast of characters, get to know them. There are lots of cool resources for character sketching. NaNo has a good one here. 

4) Let your friends and family know what's about to go down. Writing is a solitary venture. It's also time consuming, and NaNo's 1,667 words-per-day average is whole different level of involvement. 
WAIT. Before you go writing, could we make a 7-layer Jello Mold?

In my case, I'm married with two little kids. I am planning for easy dinners, packing lunches the night before, getting up reeeeaaally early, and have discussed all of this with aforementioned family unit. It's THAT KIND of commitment. 

5) Find Writerly Support. Connect with writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site. There is a NaNoPrep thread where you will find lots of friendly writer peeps looking for buddies to encourage and support each other.  You can find me on the NaNo site as Arena26. (ICYW, that user name dates way back to a NCAA Online Bracket challenge that ended well for me.) 

How about you? Are you prepping for the NaNo plunge? Have you checked out the NaNo Prep resources on the official site? 

 How do you plan on achieving that NaNo WIN?


  1. I love these steps! Prepping the family unit is a MUST for me as is the tagline. My NaNo plan is to write during the day when my littlest has mom's day out and at night after all 3 kids are asleep. I'm writing the beginning of four stories that have been stalking the forefront of my mind. I just can't pick one! So I'm rereading The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke. Also, I love, love, love that you included the average lifespan of a Townsend bat. And I'd like to help make 7-layer Jello mold too, please, pretty please with puppy dog eyes. Good luck with NaNo! I'll be cheering you on!

  2. Wow, I love your idea. Four different taglines too? What cool use of NaNo time. :) My fool-proof is usually writing in the early AM before anyone's up, but I'm going to try a few evening sessions. That was the big one to discuss w/ family. But in November I will have Writing Wednesdays. :) So Wed. nights we can cheer each other on. :) I want to read your four taglines!

    AND, I'd make Jello with you ANY DAY!