How To Prepare For NaNoWriMo In Less Than A Week
Maybe it isn’t a case of procrastination. Maybe, like countless other writers, your life is busy. November 1st is in less than a week. If you are joining the one month challenge, you may have suddenly realized how close the beginning date is. You may have also realized that you haven’t done one thing to prepare for the event.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, it was easier to prepare and participate. I was the boss of my own schedule (as much as homeschooling and taking care of seven children would allow, that is). I could manipulate the day so I could concentrate on writing in the evenings.
Now, however, my life is much different. I work outside the home as a teacher. I am gone many evenings until at least supper time, sometimes later because of after school activities. On the flip side of that, my children are older. Only five live at home, and one is away in college. The others are, predictably due to the passage of time, older. That means they can help more around the house and don’t need me as much. I’m also in grad school, which adds its own stresses and deadlines.
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2008. I’ve met the challenge every year. We’ve had moves, deaths, career changes, and all the daily challenges that come with living life. How have I managed to participate despite an overly packed fall schedule? There are some simple steps anyone can take at any time. Even in the few days preceding the beginning of the NaNoWriMo challenge.
1. Mental Preparation
Some people create wonderful outlines and summaries before they begin to write. That is a great strategy. I’m not gifted in that way. Instead, I tend to live with the plot in my head. If I can’t write, then I’m going to think about the story as much as possible. Some would call this daydreaming. I would call it mental preparation.
2. Be Inspired
There are so many ways to do this. I like to get on to NaNoWriMo.org and check out the new swag. I especially love the T-shirt designs this year and the 2019 poster. Also, if you are signed up, then you should be getting pep talks in your email. Let them inspire you, prod you, guilt you into writing. Whatever it takes. Join a group, a conversation, a forum… or create your own! As a teacher, I like to create a classroom group and then we can encourage each other with our projects.
3.Wake Up Your Muse
Create a playlist of your favorite tunes to write to. Put artwork or photos that speak to you and inspire you to write. Maybe a certain picture captures the feelings you are trying to portray in your story. Hang it where you will see it. Light a candle. Create a peaceful atmosphere so you can make room for your muse to speak to you.
4. Make A Space
If you have a family, you will probably need to create a writing space, if you haven’t already. This will help train your family to leave you alone. When you are in your writing space, they know that you are working hard. This is much easier for me now that my children are older. Everyone knows that November is “Don’t Disturb Mom While She’s Writing Or Else” month. My youngest is assigned the task of creating a “Do Not Disturb” sign for my bedroom door at the end of October.
5. Supply Yourself With The Essentials
No, I’m not talking about paper and pen or a laptop and charger. What I’m referring to is far more serious. I’m talking about caffeine and chocolate. I anticipate some later nights than normal, and I will be preparing for it. I’m not a night owl by nature. Staying up until 10 PM or later and being coherent is a real accomplishment for me. I’ve learned over the last decade of NaNo writing to be prepared.
6. Decide Right Now
This step can be done at any time. But I’m convinced it has to be done. If you go into the NaNoWriMo with an “I’ll just do the best I can” attitude, then you probably won’t succeed. You must determine in your heart before November 1st that no matter what, you will hit the 1667 quota each day. This sounds simple enough at first. But I have two trips planned during the month of November, and like all other Americans, have Thanksgiving dinner to think about. Not to mention the long list of responsibilities all adults must deal with daily. I could easily excuse myself, but by determining ahead of time that no matter what, I will write each day, half the battle is won. The other half is actually doing it.
Even though there are only a few days before NaNoWriMo begins, it isn’t too late to start some preparations that will assist in meeting the challenge. Preparations don’t have to be elaborate to be effective. What must be effective is your determination to see the plans through. It won’t be easy. You’ll be tired. But you can succeed.