Imagine that you finally make the time to sit down in front of your computer every day just to write. Imagine that in 30 days, you could have the first draft of your novel complete.
That’s what National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is all about. Every year during the month of November, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world set out to write 1,667 words a day. By November 30, many people have the first draft of a 50,000-word novel complete.
However, many of those winners will end up discouraged because their book is a mess. Since NaNoWriMo requires fast writing with no time for editing, many manuscripts are abandoned because they would take far too much time and effort to “fix.”
Though you won’t have time to edit during November, there are two big things that you can do before November that will make editing easier after November.
1. Develop Your Characters
Before November 1st rolls around (and trust me, it will be here before you know it!), cast your major and minor characters for your book and interview them. Learn their names, their fears, their dreams, and those little things that drive them crazy.
To be able to write characters your readers will love and root for (or boo), you must know them inside and out as if they were your real-life best friends. And when the day comes to write fast, you’re going to need as much dirt on these characters as you can get.
2. Plan Your Plot
I know you pantsers are already shaking your heads, but hear me out.
You have 30 days to write 50,000 words, which is 1,667 words a day. In a writer’s perfect world, you would be able to devote a few hours every day just to your book, but we know that won’t happen. You still have to work 40 hours a week, you still have to turn in that 10-page paper, and you still have little ones who need to eat and want you to play with them.
The reason authors do not win NaNoWriMo or do win but with a book they can’t “fix” is the same: they didn’t plan ahead. With our busy lives that don’t slow down for November (if anything, they seem to get busier just to keep us from writing), we have to be wise with our time.
For the pantsers who don’t like to plan, this doesn’t have to be a rigid outline detailing everything you must write. It could just be fifteen chapters outlined with a couple of sentences about what must happen in each chapter. The point is to organize the plot now so that you don’t have a jumbled mess later. It’s far easier to rearrange a collection of sentences now than it is a couple hundred pages later.
For the plotters who like to know everything before writing a single word, you can be as detailed as you want with this. You can outline every single scene with several paragraphs listing all that needs to happen in each scene if you want.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of pantsers or plotters, take the outlining method that works for you and use it for your NaNoWriMo novel. Rearrange that outline as many times as you need to before November so that when NaNoWriMo starts, you can start writing with confidence, knowing that you won’t finish with a jumbled mess of 50,000 words.
Will your novel still need editing by December 1st? Of course! No good novel is finished after one draft. The goal here is to win NaNoWriMo with a plot that makes sense and a novel that you can edit far easier than if your plot was so full of holes that it was see-through.
October is the perfect time to start planning, and to get you started, I’ve created a free NaNoWriMo Prep Calendar for October. You can write down all of your prep goals on the left-hand side, and you can set deadlines for all of your goals on the calendar.
Are you planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know what you’re writing about! And if you’re looking for some writing buddies, share your NaNoWriMo username below as well.
Let’s get planning!