This is a blog post that both pantsers and planners can get behind—so that no one gets behind during National Novel Writing Month.
When it comes to NaNoWriMo, you’re either a planner or a pantser.
If you’re a planner, you’ve spent weeks plotting your story arc, shaping your protagonist and crafting a convincing villain. You know what goes down in your story when, who says what and every way you can heighten your story.
If you’re a pantser, you have a vague idea of a sort-of story that you want to write. But you won’t rule out any spontaneous inspiration that sparks on November 1.
Now what? If all the plotting (or ambiguous ideas) are in place, what can you really do before National Novel Writing Month starts?
Quite a bit, actually!
So many writers solely focus on how to prepare your writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. Yet many writers fall behind by mid-month because they didn’t take into consideration everything else that happens in their life.
During November, your focus needs to be on writing. So take the time now to get ahead in other aspects of your life so that you’re not too drained to do the dishes or wash a load of laundry in between bursts of writing.
by the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo, waiting to place a takeout order by standing in line or sitting in a drive-thru becomes a daily habit.
We have to crush this.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal out now and then. But we all know that we don’t make the best lifestyle choices when we hold a menu in our hands. And when stress runs high between reaching wordcount and rest of the chaos of your life, we’re not ordering the salad.
It’s time to start dining in.
But who has time to cook during National Novel Writing Month? You’d rather spend that time cranking out words or devising how to write yourself out of your current story situation.
Now is the time to meal prep. Find a handful of recipes with foods that boost your creative energy and start cooking in large quantities. Pull out any (and every) freezer-strong container you have in your cupboard and store meals in your freezer.
Why not just load up your freezer with pre-packaged frozen meals? These foods are often high in sodium, which can drain us of the energy we need to write. And how many frozen meals are actually healthy?
Nutrition is key this month. You need to feed your mind good food so that you can write a good story. Spend the extra time you have in October treating Future You to a home-cooked meal.
Wipe Your Menial Task List Clean
By November 15, you are seeking to complete any chore around the house instead of writing because you want any distraction to let you escape the burden of reaching wordcount.
Throw away that to-do list.
Spend this time in October getting ahead on all the little things that add up to being major time-sucks. Clean out your closet. Pay your bills. Unclog the drain. Get an oil change.
There are some chores that need attention in real time, such as washing the dishes or folding the laundry. And these can often be good breaks to help you get some perspective on your writing.
Just don’t let a task that can be completed now (or in December) cloud up your time in November. While the excuse is temporary relief, you’ll end up kicking yourself for not following through on your goals during National Novel Writing Month.
Assemble Your Cheer Squad
By now, everyone in your life knows that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo. And while everyone expressed feigned interest, most people don’t care.
These people are not your cheerleaders.
One of the best perks of NaNoWriMo is the writing community. You can gather with local writers in your community to write together and you can chat with writers from around the world virtually on forums and social media.
I cannot tell you what a difference participating in the conversation and events makes for reaching your goal of writing a novel in November!
That being said, it’s also nice having one familiar person (or two) in your life to talk about your NaNoWriMo journey.
The truth is that you don’t need someone in your life to tell you to write today or that you can do it. You commit to National Novel Writing Month because it’s a self-starting goal that you want to achieve.
Instead, ask someone in your life to be there to help you through all the chaos. Ask your person to be there when you need to talk out a challenge you’re having with a plot, when something exciting happens in your story and when you reach a significant milestone.
Don’t take your chosen person’s kindness without giving back. Find ways to show your appreciation for their support both during and after National Novel Writing Month.
Position Your Prizes
This one’s easy—and hopefully shouldn’t take you long to complete.
We all love to write. That’s why we participate in NaNoWriMo. But even on our best writing days during November, we feel writer’s fatigue and need something—anything—to motivate us to keep going.
So define that prize. If you achieve Y, you can have Z. Y is your daily wordcount goal and Z is whatever is a satisfying reward.
Z can be watching an episode of your favorite show, relaxing in a hot bath, taking a short nap or dance around to your favorite songs. Choose a reward that celebrates today’s accomplishment and encourages you to keep going tomorrow.
The rewards don’t stop there. You should also plan out milestone for reaching each quarter (that’s 25%, 50% and 75%) of your target wordcount. Most NaNoWriMo writer target for 50,000 words but there are ambitious writers in the group that aim for more. And, of course, you should plan out the finish line prize of completing the entire first draft of your novel.
Stretch It Out
A sore body calls the shots. It determines how much movement you can make and how motivated you’ll be today.
Soreness has a long list of causes including exercise, how you sit at work and where you sleep at home. And when November rolls around, you will be short on time to make well-needed adjustments.
So take care of your body now. After chuckling over these yoga poses for writers, try out these stretches for writers. Soak in a hot bath with Epsom salt and essential oils. Book a massage. Meditate. Focus on deep breathing exercises.
When it comes to writing, your mind can be only as strong as your body. If your body isn’t motivated to keep going, your mind will take any excuse it can get to get out of the pressure of writing that daunting novel.
Pamper yourself with self-care now so that your body has the energy it needs to be a NaNoWriMo winner!
Did I miss anything? What non-writing task do you do to prepare your life for National Novel Writing Month? Share your secrets in the comments section below.