With less than two weeks until NaNoWriMo, Amanda's kicking up her preparation... or at least she should be.
There’s No “Right” Way to Prepare.
If you learn anything about writing, learn this: there’s never a “right” way to do it. There may not even be a “right” way for you to do it. I mean, I’ve plotted books and and flown by the seat of my pants with books, and it all depends on the book, not me.
So when it comes to preparing for NaNoWriMo, well, you’ve got options. Whether you want to go all in and sign up for an account and update your word count every day or participate informally, you have ALL THE OPTIONS! for getting yourself ready.
Here’s just a sampling of what you can do. You don’t have to do everything on the following list—pick and choose what feels right for you at the moment. Which means, yes, what you do might change depending on where your brain is.
(I mean, hopefully your brain’s in your head, but you get the idea.)
1. Make a Writing Schedule.
Sometimes what’s most daunting about NaNoWriMo is figuring out how you’re going to fit all that writing into your already busy schedule. But you can fit writing into your schedule. I promise! I can easily squeeze an hour of writing into my weekdays (30 minutes in the morning and evening) when I work full-time. What I learned from that is this:
Writing is a habit; creativity is a muscle; priorities are everything.
The more you force yourself into the chair to write, the more you do it consistently, the easier it becomes. You don’t need hours upon hours to write. You need a few minutes every day. The more you do it, the more your creative muscle flexes and get stronger. Don’t wait for inspiration, make it happen.
And priorities? Well, you might have to give up TV or an extra half hour of sleep. I get up 30 minutes early every weekday morning so I have that time to write. That’s how I manage to write consistently. I don’t watch much, if any, TV. Writing is important, so I dump my distractions (*ahem* social media *ahem*) and buckle down.
Now that I’ve scared you into thinking your freetime is writing only, please know it’s not.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Where do I have natural downtime? → Writing can fit into any of these slot.
- Do I have to write on a computer? → I’ve written on my phone during my bus ride home. Think outside the box!
- How often do I want write? → I write on weekdays and take the weekends off. Maybe you have a schedule where you only write weekends. Maybe it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Point is, write when you can.
- What non-essential activity (e.g., TV, computer) can I give up or cut down on? → Because you’re wasting time somewhere else that can be devoted to writing.
2. Write a “What Happens in This Book?” Guide.
Whether you call it a synopsis or blurb or back cover copy, it’ll tell you what needs to happen in the book. Because you’re in the planning stage, what you write isn’t set in stone. It can change as you write and realize events have to happen differently. It’s a starting point. A super general outline.
There aren’t any rules to this either, so you can brain dump onto a blank page and include all the details and spoilers you have. Better yet, set a timer and write for 15 or 20 minutes. Work some editing magic on what you have and VIOLA! You’re ready to write.
3. Use a Plot Board.
Plot boards are super fun and interactive! Grab poster board and some post it notes, then write down the main points that happen in your story.
I separate mine into four sections: act 1, act 2 (part 1), act 2 (part 2), and act 3. I’ve based the format on the three act structure, which is pretty common for fiction authors. I suggest checking out K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel for more information.
With the post-it notes, you can move things around, allowing you to visualize your story before you ever get to writing. A plot board can help you spot trouble areas, so you don’t end up staring at your story with frustration mid-November.
Yes. READ! Read writing craft books. Read books you absolutely adore. Read books you don’t. Reading can teach you how to write, because you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t like—and how to execute it. Study the masters. Experience new worlds and characters.
Here are my recommendations for writing craft books:
You don’t have to read all of them, but even one book could help spark your inspiration
Do NaNoWriMo with Mill City Press… and win prizes.
Yes, PRIZES! On Monday, we’ll reveal our grand plans for what’s going to happen (and what prizes you can win) during November for NaNoWriMo. If you want all the details, be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us @MillCityPress on Twitter for the official announcement.
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