NaNoWriMo Prep Update #1!

“You don’t have to be mad to do this…but it helps.”

I would say, “Well…it’s that time of year again, where I tear my hair out doing something I love!”

But I won’t. This November will be my first ever NaNoWriMo! (Help).

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month encourages writers around the world to venture out of their comfort zones. To get to work on that novel idea you’ve been putting off for months. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. You don’t have to fully complete a novel; in this instance, quantity is more important that quality! You can always go back and edit once November is over and done with. Getting those words down onto paper in the form of a first draft is something that us writers seem to take an age to finish, so this is definitely a challenge that will help writers grow and become more confident than before.

The 1st of September was the first ‘official’ day of prep. However, I did start a little earlier; I’m a NaNo newbie after all! I’m taking it steady. I already have my novel idea in my head and a couple of characters ready to go. The things that are most important to me at this stage is the remainder of my characters and creating a solid plot that will see me through November. The one thing I don’t want to happen is to get to 1 week in and be completely stuck for what to write.

The first thing I’ve begun to do is some chapter title research; a nice little activity to get me into the swing of things. I plan on giving each chapter a title consisting of a singular, fancy word to describe what’s about to go down. I like long fancy words that I can’t pronounce!

Next, I’ve been working on the profiles of two of my characters, Hattie and Arron; my protagonist and antagonist. I’ve loved creating these guys more than any other character I’ve thought up. I’ve got such a clear image of these two; their appearance, how they act and their motives. The key to a great story (in my opinion) is to have your characters created to perfection. I plan on getting a few more characters nailed on the head in the coming weeks.

I already wrote a first draft of chapter one a month or so ago, so I’ve got a nice head start into my novel. Of course, I won’t include these words in my final NaNoWriMo word count because that would be cheating. (No one likes a cheater!) At least now I have an opening and I understand where I’m going next. I’m also starting to go through each of the following chapters of my novel, detailing the scenario, main events and characters involved. This way, when I come to writing my story in November, I’ll find it much easier to smash my word count.

I’m (finally) working on setting up my writing space in my office. Hopefully soon it won’t be used as a storage room! A few weeks ago, I purchased a huge whiteboard and corkboard, ready to be filled with work. I want to have a clear visual representation of what my novel will look like, where I can update my progress or add extra information quickly and easily. I also want to have a place where I can look when I get a bit of a block, perhaps at some of my favourite pictures or writer’s quotes. Just little inspirational bursts to help me along.

So that’s basically where I am at at the minute. There’s so much still to do and plan out but the process at the moment is quite chilled out. I’m enjoying it while it lasts because when November comes around, it will be all hands on deck! Not nervous in the slightest, honest!

Okay, for the next few weeks of September, planning for my novel will be a huge priority. By the end of this month, I want to have a good amount of detail in all of my chapter plans so I can have a bit of relaxing time through October. I also want to plan in a lot of blog posts between now and the end of November. Yikes! Feeling pretty confident though 🙂

A few words of wisdom:

  • If you’ve not yet got a story idea in mind, don’t panic! There’s still plenty of time to get in the zone before November 1st. Get inspired by going on a walk to spark your imagination, do some people watching in your local cafe or simply read some of your favourite books. You’ll be surprised what you come up with!
  • The NaNoWriMo community are amazing. There are so many people in your shoes just wanting to get that novel written but are just needing that little extra support. These guys are so encouraging and there are so many different resources available to help you out in the planning stage. If you have any questions about a project, there’s also a great little Facebook group where writers can ask and answer questions as well as share and discuss ideas.
  • If you want to write something but can’t seem to take the leap, force it. Tell yourself you can do it and tell yourself you will write that 50k in 30 days! If you say you can’t do it, you never will. It’s so important to believe in yourself and be confident in your abilities or you’ll always be stuck in the same place. Comfort zones aren’t always the best places to stay.
  • What you write during NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember, all you’re doing is writing a first draft. It doesn’t have to be finished, or be any good for that matter! All you need to get out of it at the end is the word count and the desire to continue. Anything else is a bonus.

If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, it’d be great to hear about how you’re getting on with the planning stage! 🙂

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