NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month is around the corner and I am really looking forward to it particularly this year because of the entire lockdown situation. I simply cannot wait to get back to one of my story’s draft and start writing again motivated by all the NaNo energy on my social media feeds! I love NaNo and there are more than a million reasons for it, the first and foremost being that it helped me write my own novel!
If you are new here, I’d like you to know that I wrote the first draft of my debut novel Deceived in NaNoWriMo 2014. Though I ended up changing the story later, the foundation was laid in NaNoWriMo’14 itself. Therefore, I have a very special place for NaNoWriMo in my heart.
As per NaNoWriMo rules of participation, a writer cannot begin actually writing the draft of the story that they are planning to work on for the WriMo but they can start prepping for it in advance. In fact, they totally encourage all writers to prepare well and they have a really awesome name for it too – Preptober (Prep October.)
So let’s get down to business and look at the 10 ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo 2020. It doesn’t matter if you are beginning a new story or working on the draft of an old one, these points would be useful, and even handy, either way.
10 Ways To Prepare for NaNoWriMo
1. Finalise The Idea
The first thing that you’re going to have to establish before working on the draft of any story is to settle on an idea (probably two ideas in case if you’ll be working on multiple projects.)
Unless you’ve finalised an idea or two, don’t even think about entering the waters because WriMo is all about pushing your limits and belting out words. And you can only do that when you are not confused about what exactly to work on.
A lot of people make the mistake on beginning a random project thinking they’ll figure it out once the WriMo begins but mostly those projects either end badly or simply don’t end at all and get shelved.
Read: Finding The Right Idea
2. Develop That Idea
The last thing you want is to get stuck with an idea that cannot be developed further after a certain point. You will curse the day you settled on that idea and it’ll make you lose your momentum making you start all over again with hunting for a new idea. You need to develop your idea beforehand otherwise you’ll end up with a half-baked book.
3. Establish The Theme
Next, you need to figure out the theme, i.e., the main point you (as a writer) are trying to convey through your story.
Knowing the theme of your story will prevent you from straying and wandering from your story and help you to end up feeling lost or, worse, with a confusing plot. You can have multiple side-themes, but we are talking here only about the main theme. If you don’t know about it yet, then first identify it and then work on it.
4. Work On The Plot Outline
You need an outline if you really want to work on your story and at least finish one of its drafts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a planner or a pantster, you’ll have to keep it handy because while participating in a WriMo, you simply cannot afford to lose time fretting over the outline (which you should’ve have prepared in advance!)
There are a lot of people who like to write by the seat of their pants, but the problem that creates in WriMo is that you do not have the liberty to get stuck! When you’re writing on a schedule, you need to have at least some sort of a plan to help you move forward, even if you write intuitively and refer to it only if needed. I strongly suggest creating at least a basic outline for your story before starting work on it for WriMo.
5. Develop The Conflict
Conflict is the main conflict or the main argument of your story.
The conflict will make your story come alive because it is, by all means, the heart of your story. You first need to establish it and then make sure that it works for your story. The entire story would be woven around it, so make sure you get it right.
6. Build The Characters
The most important thing after the plot of the story are the characters. Characterisation is an entire universe in its own and while working on a story you can either concentrate of putting the story on paper or building your characters, so do it now!
Start brainstorming your character’s personality, physical as well as behavioural traits, their personalities, mannerisms and most importantly their backstories. Get to work now. And remember don’t just work only on your main character but also work on the side characters too.
7. Organise Everything
Organise all your notes, scribbles, brainstormed papers, potential plot points that you worked on, POV ideas, sub-plot ideas, scenes and anything else related to your story in one place. Either put them all in one big folder or simply put them all in a file. You will be writing quite a bit in prep, so you will have even more things to add to your file or folder by the time October ends, so prepare for it from now itself.
8. Clear Your Schedule
Clear your schedule for the entire month of November, except for the really important things. If it can be done before or after then move it on your schedule and free up days for writing. You do not want to have more than 5 Zero Days (and if you are serious about your story, which I think you should be) then keep those 5 days in reserve for emergencies only.
9. Work Out A Writing Schedule & Space
Try a couple of different timings and find out the one that suits you best. Some writers find comfort in writing late at night, whereas some love writing in the wee hours of morning (I certainly do.) Some like to write in the quiet hours of the afternoon while others like to write in the evening. So figure out what works best for you.
When I say create a writing space, I do not mean to buy a desk if you don’t have one. Write wherever you feel comfortable and prepare that place for yourself. For example, in spite of having a dedicated writing space with a huge desk, I love sitting on my dining table for writing. So I will prepare it by decluttering the table and making space for writing. You can do it anywhere, on the terrace, your balcony sitting area, your garden, on the kitchen island, on the dining table, your bed… anywhere really.
10. Let Everyone Know
Now, this is the last part of the prep. You need to let everyone know that you’ll be participating in WriMo and will be busy throughout the month of November. If they can’t do anything else to support you, they should simply leave you be for the entire WriMo month so that that you can work on your story undisturbed.
Social media is another great tool to announce your participation as it makes you feel excited for your project. Try and connect with your writing community or other writers participating in WriMo to discuss your preparations as well as to know how others do it.
Questions: Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo before or is this your first time? Are you excited for NaNoWriMo 2020? How are you preparing for this Corona- infested year’s NaNoWriMo?
Do share your experience as I would love to know about it!
Coming next week: Relevance of NaNoWriMo for Indian Writers
Thanks for reading!