Preparing For NaNoWriMo

by - October 15, 2015

Preparing for NaNoWriMo #write31days #nanowrimo
There's no 'right way' to prepare for a challenge like NaNoWriMo. Just as every writer has their own process, so too does every challenge have its own method - it's up to you to find your way. Unapologetically.

I can't tell you how to do it. 

I can only tell you how I do.

1. Consider your options.
Do you want to write a novel? No? Easy. Don't do NaNo.
                                             Yes? Then what do you have to lose? 

NaNoWriMo doesn't mean you'll have a completed novel at the end of the 30 days BUT if you approach it with a genuine desire YOU WILL emerge at the finish line with something worth pursuing. 

Forget about being scared and made the decision to try.

Because if you're too afraid to try then you've already failed.

2. Brainstorm.
NaNoWriMo births a fury of words, thrown down in frantic chaos/anger/hope/tears. Much of it - all of it - happens on the fly BUT without a general idea of your direction how will you know how to start? 

You need a glimmer of a story. Perhaps it's nothing but a foggy image. Perhaps it's a character's name. Perhaps it's the way the seats smelled on your kindergarten school bus - it could be anything BUT IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING OR YOU WILL HAVE NOTHING!

Last year, my inspiration for The Church In The Wildwood came from the old hymn of the same name. I don't like the song. I find it irritating to listen to and I just can't get on board the gospel train it's trying to chug along with {but is found somehow lacking} HOWEVER, one of the verses is so beautifully eerie that I KNEW I had to build a story out of it:

Oh come to the church in the wildwood
To the trees where the wildflowers bloom
Where the parting hymn will be chanted
We will weep by the side of the tomb

Inspiration is EVERYWHERE! Grab some and make something out of it. 

Sure, I only had one little verse but from that I found a setting and some tension for my tale - it got me off the ground and running.

3. Sign up.
Make it official. Go to the NaNoWriMo website and prove that you're brave enough to TRY. You'll find fun little gadgets that will track your word count, and buttons & banners to share on your own website/blog because, if you're like me, you'll want the pressure of people actually watching you do it to light enough of a fire under you to help you push through the days when words come harder.

4. Go shopping.
This marathon requires fuel and for me, fuel comes from such happiness-makers as endless chocolate and endless tea. It is imperative that I have plenty of both necessities before I begin this race and I will be collecting my supplies {and hiding them from nosy children} so that I am well equipped and ready for November 1. {I will also strive to remember that breaks are imperative - especially those that would get me a little hike down the road...unless I want that stash of chocolate bars to end up on my butt...which I do not!}

5. Know What Your Chocolate Bars Are.
I don't mean the months-worth you're going to gorge yourself on...I mean the chocolate bar treat in your novel. It is the scene you want to write. It is that moment you can't wait to spill out. Hopefully you'll approach the month with a few chocolate bars in mind - these give you something to strive towards OR, in moments of loss or writer's block, you can jump ahead to them, pour them out and, in the process, find your mojo again.

The Church In The Wildwood Chocolate Bars were as follows {without giving anything away, of course}:

      My Mr. Big: the hanged man

      My Snickers: the sneakers and the cross

      My Bounty Bar: steal the bell

      My Peanut M&M's: I know who you are and what you did

{this is how I subtly let you know what some of my favourite chocolatey fuel-treats are so you can bring them to me as encouraging additions to my NaNoWriMo snack-horde...}

6. Tell your family and friends.
You are going to be eyeballs deep in writing for THIRTY STRAIGHT DAYS! Unless you can afford to take a thirty day holiday from your day-job you are going to have to find your writing time during time that might normally belong to the people closest to you. Let them know your plans. Tell them why it's important to you. Explain that you might say no to extra events and that they might be eating take-out or Kraft Dinner for much of the month. Assure them that this in no way means you love them less and then promise them a shining thank you on the dedication page of your finished novel.  

7. Tell your followers.
If you have a blog you know that burning need to service your reader's with regular content. Tell them your plans and that they should expect less from you during the month of November. Tell them you will miss them and will try your best to provide updates but that you guarantee nothing until December because this is one month in which your novel has to be your first writing priority if you have any hope of reaching your goal. If they follow you because they like you, they will support you through it and they'll be there when you come back, ready to pat you on the back and make you feel important and missed.

8. Prepare your space.
If you are spoiled like me and have your very own writing room, take some time to give it a good clean. Wash your desk, clean your windows, vacuum the rug, dust the shelves, febreeze the curtains - anything you can do to make it fresh and inviting because you are going to be spending a stupid amount of time there. Make sure it's welcoming. Make sure it inspires you. Make sure it makes you happy.

9. Just breathe.
On October 31, when the children have candy-crashed and you've stolen all the Peanut M&M's from their Halloween stash, sit quietly in your space, fingers poised over the keys, watching the hands of the clock tick steadily towards midnight, and just breathe. You can do it. If you really want it you're going to make it happen. And when the clock strikes the beginning - when November 1st stares you down and asks, "Have you got anything to say?" - take a swing from your steaming mug, grit your teeth and start typing a 50,000 word HECK YEAH, I DO!

So, what do you say? Are you up for it? Want to join me? {Click here to sign up.}

Not a writer but want to support me in this challenge? You can sponsor me! Monies raised go towards the good work the NaNo offices are doing in promoting creative writing across the globe. {Click here to make a donation.} Bird is a novel project that died a few years ago. I had a rough start and no guts. I'm going to revisit it this November - strip it back to the bones and start again - and hope the pressure will resurrect it into the story I'm confident it can become! {click the image above to see all the #write31days posts}

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  1. I adore you. Dying to read your novel! All of these little tidbits on twitter and here are perking my curriosity

    1. :) I'm so glad to hear that - I've been trying to share what will get people interested - I hope, in the end, it really is all I've built it up to be - yikes!


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