How I Prepared to Participate in National Novel Writing Month
Jill Williamson on November 3, 2020
I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Click here to see my NaNo 2020 page.
Do I have the time? Not really. However, I do need to get back into the habit of writing words every day—or at least on certain days of the week—so I figured NaNo would be good motivation to push me to keep going, even on days when I’d rather not write.
Once I’d made that decision, I went into NaNo preparation mode. There are certain things that, if I do in advance, I know I’ll be setting myself up for success. Not that doing these things is necessary for success. But that by doing them, I was prepared to sit down on November 1 and write. Here is what I did to prepare:
- Story Idea: I chose which idea I wanted to write.
- Main Character: I came up with my character’s name. I also know where he lives, with who he lives, and what his life is like. I also figured out about his past and what he believes about the world.
- Loose Plot: I came up with a vague idea of where I wanted to story to go. Mostly, I needed to make sure I had enough story to fill a whole book.
- Light Research: When I’m writing on a deadline, I don’t like to have to stop to look up anything. Since I planned to use a mythological being in this story, I did a little research ahead of time on that topic so I would know how to handle the similarities and the differences.
- A List of Names: Again, I didn’t want to have to stop to think of character names, so I brainstormed several pages of character names I could pick from when I need a new character. This has already come in handy.
- Storyworld Details and Map Sketch: This one can be dangerous for me, so I didn’t spend too much time on it up front because I didn’t want to get lost creating details I didn’t need. Beforehand, I made sure to know what the fantasy place my character will go looked and felt like. And I sketched a rough map to start.
- Write a Beginning: Since I have the tendency to take a very long time writing beginnings, I wrote a story opening in October. Then I rewrote it. And played with it some more. The truth is, I’ll likely change this opening. But writing it in advance saved me time in November. I didn’t have to start NaNo staring at the screen, trying to find the perfect way to begin my story. I’d already written 244 words of an opening I liked, and when I sat down on Nov 1 to write my 1667 words for that day, it was easy to start writing.
These were the things I did to set myself up for success, though for me this year, all success really means is getting back into a writing routine. I’ve been off a writing routing for a long time, and I’m ready to jump back in.
Ready or not, NaNo 2020, here I come!
If you’re doing NaNo this year, come find me. Click here to visit my NaNo 2020 project page.