Anyway, November is most definitely nearly here and for many writers we decide it would be a good idea to attempt to write a fifty thousand word novel in a month. The idea is a great one, as who wouldn't want to be able to say that they had written a novel in a month and then settle down for a relaxing December? The reality is somewhat different...
Last year I did NaNoWriMo for the first time and naively wandered into November with a roughly plotted out story and a bottle of champagne chilling ready for 30th November. I had no idea what I was in for.
This year I am more worldly wise so I here impart my learnings from last year so that you may be prepared:
1) Start cooking extra meals NOW. I have already made two batches of meals that are now safely stowed in the freezer ready for next month. That way at least the family will have a couple of nutritious meals to tide them over.
2) If you fail at Number 1 then at least go out and purchase vast quantities of fish fingers, or similar, so that your family won't starve. You may want to purchase some vitamin supplements while your there.
3) Buy lots of pens and notebooks NOW. During November you need to keep a pen and paper with you at ALL times so that if you have any spare minutes you can use them to write. Trust me on this, every minute counts! If you have the technology then learn how to use apps like Pages now so that you can utilise their usefulness when you need it.
4) Tell the people around you in advance what you are planning on doing. This way they will all do whatever they can to help you achieve it. If they aren't aware they will just shuffle past you without making eye contact assuming that you have finally lost any remaining marbles.
5) Call in favours now. All those favours you have done for people throughout the year, now is the time to call them in. Any additional childcare support, dog walking or warm meals will all help to buy you a little more time. Sleepovers are brilliant so why not have one now with a few children and ask the parents if they will return the favour in November?
6) Regardless of whether you are a plotter or a pantser (official term used for a writer that flies by the seat of their under garments) you need to spend a little time now planning your novel. As a minimum I would suggest you need to know main characters, locations and have a rough idea of start, middle and end of the story. Spend some time now on this as there will be no time in November for research or thinking!
7) As well as the amazing feeling of being a NaNo winner it is also nice to have a little reward. So whatever you are into, whether it's meals out, champagne or a large box of chocolates arrange it now for the end of November and focus on that reward when you're writing. If you opt for the chocolate you may want to keep that under lock and key or perhaps in someone else's house or there's a chance it may get devoured on the tough days.
8) Spend some time now thinking about when you will be able to grab your significant chunks of writing time. This may mean a change to your daily routine so think through what needs to change and get prepared. If it helps draw up a timetable so you, and those in your home, can see when you will be otherwise engaged.
9) Don't panic! You will get through November, you will achieve the fifty thousand words and you will feel amazing at the end. Stay calm throughout. if you have an off day - it's OK because you will have some amazing days which will help you to catch up.
10) Enjoy it! It is a very rare opportunity as a writer to be able to throw yourself into your story and write intensely every day with the rest of your life operating on the periphery. So make the most of the luxury and enjoy yourself!
Here's the link to sign up to NaNoWriMo 2014 - https://nanowrimo.org/sign_up
What are you waiting for?
See you on the other side! :-)