With less than two months away, now is the time to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Research your topic. Make notes. Start those dreaded outlines. But with time quickly moving forward, now is the time to start thinking about your project.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past year, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Not think about writing one. Not editing your work. Sitting down and writing one word after another until you accrue 50,000 wonderful words. Sound unobtainable? Not at all! As long as you prepare.
I’ve written before how I’ve attempted it five times with three wins, all in the last three years. Why did I fail the first two? Lack of preparation.
I was a “pantser,” meaning I wrote “by the seat of my pants.” No time spent studying my subject. No research on relevant topics. Just sitting in front of a computer and typing. The farthest I got using that method was maybe 20,000 words. Not a bad showing, but clearly far from goal.
Then I decided to try my hand at plotting. I wrote a rough outline. I researched key facts that I thought I’d need for my story. By the time November 1st rolled around, I had a vision and a route to get there.
It felt weird at first. I have never outlined well and normally hate feeling restricted by one. What I learned was the outline could be a guideline, not something I’d strictly adhere to. I soon went off track as the story led me, but I went back to my outline and brought the story back to my original plan. I learned to coexist with my outline and instead of feeling suffocated by it, I used it as a rudder, steering me back to the path I planned.
The research I did beforehand also contributed to my success. When I got to the parts of the story that involved my topics (certain kinds of alcohol and what their provenance was) I could write freely and with authority because I had the knowledge I needed. Instead of wasting time looking up articles and reading histories, my preliminary work let me just write. When knocking out 1,600+ words per day when you’ve got all your other life responsibilities to attend to, any advantage you can get is crucial.
So. Now is the time. Think about your subject. Consider the conflicts you want to write about. Are there any subjects you need preliminary research on? Do it now. You can do all those things before November 1st. Then when the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night, you’ll be ready to start a new adventure in your life. Within 30 days, you too might be able to join countless others proudly claiming you wrote a novel!
Sound like something you want to try? You can sign up at http://www.nanowrimo.org.
*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with NaNoWriMo. I’m only an excited participant wanting to share my enthusiasm with other promising writers. We all have a story to tell!