I’m not participating in Nano this year, but I’ve participated many times in the past. My life and career also revolves around writing (don’t judge me.)
I know a lot of blogs and videos talk about NaNoWriMo prep in the months and weeks right before the start of November, but what if you’re a chronic procrastinator or decided to participate at the last minute? This doesn’t mean you’re doomed. It just means you have to be creative in the way you plan out your month of writing. If you’re already prepared maybe this can act as your checklist and jog your brain of something you’ve forgotten to do.
Plotting isn’t the end of the world
Yes, I’m mostly a plotter. I swear by it and none of my books would be alive today without it. Plotting doesn’t mean you have to write a novel length outline of your story. Here are some quick plotting methods to help you get started. Remember, you can always tweak and change of the details.
- The 3 Act Method: Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. These are the components a book cannot exist without. Grab a notebook or open up your favorite word processor and jot down these parts of your book. You can fill in the other details later as you get to it. Having some direction is better than no direction.
- Follow the hero’s journey format. There’s a lot of information out there about this so I won’t bore you with it here. If you’ve never heard of it before checkout one of this book.
- Write down all your main scenes on note cards and put them in order. I love this method because you can easily change the order of events.
Keep a writer’s journal
This is one of my best kept secrets. Before I started dedicating a notebook to this I had notes and scraps of paper all over the place and even pinned to the wall. Now I keep it all in my notebook. Ideas, character info, whether John Doe is blonde or a redhead. What Kelly ate for breakfast. Whatever you need to remember for later jot down. This is the journal I’m using right now. You can even put your plot in the journal if you wanted to.
Ask a friend to read your work periodically
I know long time writers will cringe at this advice. Stephen King even says to write with the door closed and I do, but in my early days of writing I needed that audience. Also, having someone who is ready to read your work at the end of every week will give you extra motivation to get your words on the blank page.
Decide how to track your word count, progress, and work still needed
I use the free version of PaceMaker.
It doesn’t yell at you for being behind like some do and it allows you to customize your writing plan.
Schedule 5 days in November where you will aim to write 5k.
I know that sounds like a lot of words and for some people it is. I aim for this number almost every writing day. I know it’s not sustainable for everyone, but hear me out on this one.
Five days of 5k words each is 25k words. That’s half your words for the month. Even if you don’t hit those 5k words – you might get a day or two ahead on each scheduled day. Things will pop up that keep you from writing. As someone who writes full time some days I view the world as a series of obstacles between me and the keyboard.
Let me know your favorite way to prep for Nano in the comments.