If you’re interested in writing a novel at some point in your life, NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month – is a great time to do that. As the full name suggests, it is the idea to try to write at least 50,000 words in one month, which is November. It’s a program that gives you a reason and a timeline to write, and if you’re one of those people who has a hard time sitting down to make something like writing a book happen. However, before you sit down to write your novel in November, there are some things you need to ask yourself in order to prepare for the task.
In case you’re wondering about my experience/expertise in this, I’ve written two books (novel and grammar e-book) and am working on my third (novel). I did NaNoWriMo in 2008 and while I didn’t complete it, I made it several weeks!
Have you signed up yet? Of course, you don’t have to sign up for the NaNoWriMo site, but they have encouraging emails and a nice way to measure your word count progress. Plus, this gives you some accountability.
What are you going to write about? Yes, you need to have an actual idea. 50,000 words is not a small number and you need to have an idea that will last you that length. To help you conceptualize, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is over 76,000 words, The Notebook is around 52,000, and The Great Gatsby is just over 50,000. Is your idea the kind that will last?
When are you going to write? One way to help yourself succeed and hit that 50,000 word mark is having a set time in your day to write. By scheduling time to write, you’ll reduce the “chance” element of NaNoWriMo because you’ll know when you’re going to write and you’ll make sure that you have the time. In order to stay on top of things, you’ll need to write around 1,666 words a day. Once you get into it, it won’t take that long for you to hit that, but it does require a time commitment.
Do you have the supplies to write your novel? This could be a notebook and pen or a word processor like Word or Scrivener. However you’ll do things, make sure that you’re prepared ahead of time. Here are my favorite writing tools.7 questions to ask yourself to prepare for NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet
Look ahead at November – when are you going to have trouble meeting your word count? How will you counteract that? This is especially important if you’re American because Thanksgiving usually involves travel and/or family time. Are you going to be traveling 2 days? Are you not going to want to take Thanksgiving off? And whether or not you’re American, it’s unlikely that there is nothing in a whole 30 days that could impact your word count. At the very least, after two or so weeks you might start to feel tired of writing so much. Will you want to take a break? Whatever is on your calendar, look ahead and make a note of it so you can make up your word count elsewhere.
Are you a pantser or a plotter? These 2 words refer to 2 different methods of writing books: not planning ahead other than a basic idea and plotting out your entire book. I’m personally the latter. This means that when I do NaNoWriMo, I need to spend a week or so planning out the book in October. If this is you, then you should factor plotting your novel into your schedule.
What background information do you need to pull together your novel? What research do you need to do for it? Research is another thing that you need to consider and complete before you write. Of course, you don’t need to have allll of your research done beforehand (editing exists for a reason), but there is most likely some. Maybe it’s about the geography of where your novel is set or its about the laws of the time. It’s different for everyone and every novel. But if you have to stop and research every page while you’re writing, it will take so much longer and will probably be discouraging.
Are you going to do NaNoWriMo? How far into preparation are you?