Though we’re still solidly in October, I need to take a break from wallowing in horror-movie excess to think about the future. The very near future. The very near future in which I will be writing a 50,000 word novel of dubious quality in a limited time frame. I refer, of course, to National Novel Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo, as us hip kids in the know refer to it, is the open challenge to write a novel during the month of November. Established in 1999, this is the 13th year for the organization. Chances are, especially among this bookish and clever crowd, you either know someone who has participated in NaNo or you’ve given it a shot yourself. This will be my 5th year attempting the challenge. Over this time, I’ve realized that I get a lot farther if I do some initial prep work.
A few suggestions:
1. Have an idea ready.
You may not know the nitty gritty details of your story before you sit down to right it, but you should have some rough idea of what you’re tackling. Who’s your main character? What’s their conflict? Can you spend 30 long days in their world? I try to have a rough outline done for my own sanity ““ I find that it helps to ward off writer’s block. I don’t tend to write linearly. I hop from scene to scene and stitch them together in the end. With an outline, I know there’s another scene I can tackle when my current one has crashed into a brick wall.
That being said, I have no idea what I’m writing about this year. I have a few germs of seeds of thoughts floating around in my skull but none of them have progressed past the “Oh, I once had this interesting dream”¦” stage. But that’s why I’m spending the time now to think about it instead of starting off the writing month with a category 5 inspiration freak out.
2. Analyze your habits.
Night owl? Rare morning person? When are you most likely to both have the time and the energy to write? In order to hit the 50,000 goal, you’ll need to be averaging 1667 words a day. That’s a solid chunk of time to be working at your book every day ““ so how will you realistically achieve it?
Now’s also a good time to look around for local write-ins. The NaNoWriMo website was just relaunched on Monday ““ the regional guides are starting to put together the write-ins. Check on the website to see if there’s something you can make.
3. Set your DVR
Obviously, I’m in a serious, long term relationship with my television. But in order to meet this ridiculous goal, I needed to curb my TV viewing habits during November. I’ve already arranged with the editors to postpone most of my recaps for that month, so there’s that time freed up. But The Walking Dead Season 2 starts this weekend, and Revenge has been SO GOOD, y’all. Ooh, and what about American Horror Story?
This is where my DVR comes in. Truth be told, I won’t be able to go TV cold turkey during November, so I prioritize what I don’t want to miss and treat it like a special reward for working hard (Walking Dead, Revenge). Everything else will just have to wait for me. Sorry 30 Rock. Don’t be too good until December.
Anyone else planning to tackle NaNo this year? What are you doing to get ready for it?
Bonus Tracks: Actual, tangible novels that began life as a NaNoWriMo project.