“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
Welcome to a Little Lecture on NaNoWriMo Prep!
So, it's about to start; this great big new adventure of yours. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and so is the rest of your life. Woah, that sounds very dramatic doesn't it, but honestly, I'm not under-stating it when I say that NaNoWriMo changed my life and turned me from a non-writer to a real writer because it was the first time in my life I wrote every day for 30 days, and that first draft from my first NaNoWriMo turned into my first published book, aka my proudest achievement. Yes, I said it. How I hope my kids don't read this!
So yes, it's well worth doing some NaNoWriMo Prep, or NaNoPrep, or whatever you want to call it because it could make the difference between you winning or losing NaNoWriMo. But before you get hung up on that ikky-feeling-inducing word "losing", let me quickly say that NaNoWriMo is ALWAYS worth doing, whether you have done a ton of preparation or not, but if you're reading this before 1st November then why not take some time to do a little planning and preparation so you can minimise the yukky-feelings you may also experience if (okay, when!) you get stuck.
What is NaNoWriMo Prep?
NaNoWriMo Prep is exactly what it sounds like. Oh wait, too many abbreviations? Well, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (which is in November each year and is actually very international so they got that bit wrong but I guess IntNoWriMo doesn't have quite the same ring to it), and Prep stands for preparation.
So you can consider NaNoWriMo Prep to be anything you do prior to 1st November that helps you write your 50,000 (or however many) words for NaNoWriMo. If you plan on being a purist NaNo-er and are going to write 50,000 words of a first draft of a novel then you may want to do a chapter outline, or even a scene breakdown within each chapter, or you may just want to write a one paragraph summary of what is going to happen in your book. Maybe you want to include some character development? Maybe you want to just brain storm the novel idea you have in your head with a spider diagram that won't make much sense? Maybe you want to doodle a map of where your characters live? Or maybe you just want to decide the main character's name? Whatever you decide to do is cool, and it's all part of NaNoWriMo prep.
Now, if you plan on writing a non-fiction book as part of NaNoWriMo (you little NaNoRebel you!) then maybe you want to do a book or chapter outline? Maybe you want to have a bullet point list of everything you want the book to include? Maybe you just want to have a so-called elevator pitch ready for your book so you know the things it really has to focus on? There is no limit or no restriction on how much or how little preparation you do, what is more important - and I think the whole point of NaNoWriMo Prep - is that you feel a bit more ready to write come 1st November.
It's important to also know that NaNoWriMo preparation could also be something that has nothing to do with writing. For me - as a mother of two young children - my NaNoPrep is going to include filling my freezer with food, hiring a babysitter for a few extra afternoons, and cancelling all but the most essential social appointments (theirs and mine, but yeah, mostly theirs!). If you're a parent too, here are some tips for you doing NaNoWriMo while also having children. If this is your first NaNoWriMo I strongly recommend you clear your calendar and prepare your friends and family to forget what you look like... kinda.
Now let's cracking with some key questions you can answer to help you get some NaNoWriMo preparation done. If you're coming to this on 1st November or later - don't panic - you can still do a little NaNoWriMo Prep by reading this post which has some tips on how you can get ahead before 1st November in as little as 30 minutes.
Your NaNoWriMo Prep Checklist Questions
I can't promise you that it's going to be an easy month, but I can promise you that you will be - or at least feel - a better person for the experience, no matter if you "win" or "lose".
1. Are you ready to give this your best shot?
Do you feel energised, intrigued or a bit flummoxed by the possibility of NaNoWriMo? Are you equally as uncertain that you can do it as you feel revved up to kick its ass? Do you have no idea how you're going to feel at the end of Week 1, let alone on day 30?
Yes, yes and yes? Good news, you're ready for NaNoWriMo.
No, no and no? Good news, you're ready for NaNoWriMo.
2. Are you ready to write?
Do you have a computer or a notebook? Have you downloaded one of these writing apps or have you bougt a small army of biros? Are you ready to see the blank page or blinking cursor as an enemy that must be battled on a daily basis?
Yes, yes and yes? Great! You're ready for NaNoWriMo.
No, no and no? That's still great and you're still ready for NaNoWriMo.
3. Have you made time to write?
Have you cancelled all unnecessary social engagements? Have you told at least one person who you speak to regularly that you're about to do something amazing in the month of November? Are you prepared to grow grey shadows under your eyes and become used to the caffeine shakes?
Yes, yes and yes? Fantastic. You're ready for NaNoWriMo.
No, no and no? That's flipping fantastic, because you're still ready for NaNoWriMo.
4. Do you know what you're going to write?
Do you know how your draft begins? Who are the people or the topics you're going to obsess with for the next 30 days? Do you know how it all ends?
Yes? You are more than ready for NaNoWriMo.
No? Welcome to my club. Sorry, but you are definitely still ready for NaNoWriMo.
4. Do you know where you're going to write?
Is that space clear of clutter and excuses? Have you hidden the TV remote and favourited all of these writing playlists? Have you tested how comfy the chair/sofa/bed is for a few hours at a time?
Yes? You're more ready than I was on my first year.
No? You're still more prepared than I was on my first year.
5. Have you written a list of 10 things you will enjoy in December when this is all over?
Have you included your favourite cake? Did you make sure an afternoon or evening with some of your favourite people were on there? Did you forget to add hot bubble bath / lazy bike ride / lunch at your favourite restaurant?
Yes? You're a step ahead of me!
No? Then we'll just look forward to doing anything and everything that isn't writing 1667 words a day in December, right?
6. Have you tested how quickly you can write 1667 words?
Did your fingers ache? Was it less than two hours? Were you amazed at how quickly the time went?
Yes? NaNoWriMo is going to be a breeze for you?
No? NaNoWriMo is still just as likely going to be a breeze for you too.
7. Have you stocked up the kitchen cupboards?
Did your remember tea and biscuits? Did you make sure you bought all the things you can cook quickest and easiest? Did y ou also get some chocolate...? For extra writing energy, of course.
Yes? Wow, you're more ready for NaNoWriMo than I ever will be... and also, what's your address?
No? Hey, you're still ready. Consider it also a new health regime. I actually lost 2 kilos doing my first NaNoWriMo...
8. Have you made friends with my NaNo profile?
Yes? I'm going to stalk you every day to make sure you're still writing, because YES, YOU ARE READY FOR NANOWRIMO!!!
No? Well, that's rude! I'm going to waste valuable writing time trying to find you and stalk you anyway because yes, my friend, YOU ARE 100% READY FOR NANOWRIMO!!!!!
P.S. I've decided to document my NaNoWriMo progress with a weekly update here and with regular photos on Instagram. The photos will have nothing to do with what I'm writing (I'm not very good at taking sexy photos of computers) but it will be a way to keep a journal of my word counts and experience while keeping it a bit visual too. I'll use the hashtag #NaNoBird2014 and I'm @bushbirdie if you'd like to follow along. If you do the same, let me know!
In case you missed it, here are 21 good reasons you should do NaNoWriMo this year, and if you're keen, bookmark this page which will be home to a new NaNoWriMo Inspiration post every day in November this year.
Frances M. Thompson
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