Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo Prep

Every year, NaNoWriMo seems to sneak up on me taking me completely by surprise. This year, thanks to a random friend's twitter update, I realized NaNoWriMo is less than two months away! Now, I've attempted the 50k words in a month challenge before... and failed every single time. I'd like to say it's because November has always been my busiest month given that I'm a teacher and it's always a mad scramble to get reports out and put together a concert before Christmas, but really it's because I'm totally unprepared by the time November 1st rolls around.

While I don't think I'll hit 50k this November for reasons mentioned above, I am taking all my previous experience to heart and at very least attempting to set myself up for possible success. Here's what I'm doing to give me the best shot at being able to write that many words in a month.

1) Research. Since I write speculative fiction, you might be wondering what kind of research I could possibly need and my succinct answer to that is, for world-building. In order to create a complex, nuanced, plausible world, I will need to do a lot of research about the real world, making sure I get as many details in my made-up world as realistic as possible to provide a truly immersive experience for my readers.

2) Plot planning. This is a weak area for me. I tend to know what'll happen in my story in very broad strokes only by the time I start writing. This time I want to have at least a 1-2 page synopsis written to give me a more detailed map of the plot so that I hopefully won't stall around the 25k mark as usual.

3) Character planning. Almost more important than plot to me, is character development. Before I start any story I like to have a clear picture of where my character is going and how they'll change. How that happens I generally leave up to the writing process to figure out but this time I want to develop clear milestones in my story, even sketch the important scenes, that will propel the character development and undoubtedly tie into the plot.

4) An ending. I hardly ever start writing a book knowing for sure how it will end. I know who I want my characters to be by the end, but I rarely have a clear image of how the story will tie up. This has proven a mistake in the past and something I want to fix this time around. I've promised myself I won't start writing until I know how my story ends.

So, 6 weeks away from the start of NaNoWriMo this is what I'm working on. Given the demands of my day job I don't have a lot of time to write any more. This level of planning isn't only going to stand me in good stead for NaNo, I think it will also make a huge difference to my writing process in general. And if I'm going to continue writing while working, I really need to figure out a better system for maximising what little writing time I do get. NaNoWriMo 2015 will be an experiment to see if what I've got planned will actually work!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How do you prepare for it?



  1. I don't think I'll do NaNoWriMo this year, but I do want to try it one year. And when I do, I'll have to write a complete chapter-by-chapter outline before November if I even want to have a chance of writing a whole novel in a month.

    1. This is how I'm feeling. Just getting the outline done though, is pretty intimidating!