Thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year? Preptober – that’s kinda like October but with much more planning! – is the perfect time to get stuff ready. Then, come November 1st, you’ll be racking up that wordcount in no time! So, here’s 10 easy ways you can prep yourself, Preptober-style, with World Anvil.
I’ll be streaming my own NaNoWriMo preparations with World Anvil via our Twitch Channel every Sunday at 20h BST (12 noon PST), so come join me for those and get a sneak peak at what I’m writing next!
1. Plan your writing time *before* NaNoWriMo starts!
NaNoWriMo is a marathon, and you need to plan and train. Use Preptober 2018 to experiment, and schedule your times to write. Maybe that’s in your lunch break at work? Perhaps you can wake up an hour earlier, or forgo your evening TV sesh? However you squeeze it in, 50K words works out as 1667 words a day. You might want to quote yourself 2000, though, just in case you come in short a few days.
If you’re only going to write on weekends, that’ll be 12,500 each weekend (or 6250 every Saturday and Sunday). You can even block out times on your calendar to help you hold to you to your schedule. And if there are days when you can’t write – well, which days could you squeeze in a little extra?
Preptober is also a great time to see if NaNoWriMo is practical for you. If you honestly can’t find time to write 50K, there are other options. Maybe you could spread your 50K over two months? Or you can plan to write a smaller word count – a 25K novella or a couple of short stories. It’s better to set smaller targets and feel great when you achieve them, than set yourself up for failure by taking on something you don’t have time for. That NaNoWriMo spirit should get us all writing more!
Oh, and check out @TurtleWriters on twitter – they’re awesome, and make you feel much better about slowly progressing WIPs!
2. Prepare your NaNoWriMo novel in advance!
Whether you’re a Plotter or a Pantser (that is, someone who writes by the seat of their pants!), preparing what you’re going to write is an essential for a slog like NaNoWriMo. You don’t have time to panic or meander. Come November, it’ll be a question of getting those words on the page!
Preptober is the perfect time to plan out that NaNoWriMo novel. So if, like me, you need a full plot – then just plan it out this month! You can create plot articles – or even a nest of subplots – on World Anvil. Link in all your character and location articles into them, and even create a timeline of story beats so you can keep track of what’s happening. This’ll help you start populating your NaNoWriMo WIP world.
Pantsers (Discovery Writers)
Even Pantsers often plan their main characters before hand. That might just be a photo, a few adjectives and an archetype, or maybe a full-blown character backstory and a list of favourite foods. Try sketching out a few locations you’ve been dreaming about. These articles will help you remember what colour a character’s eyes are, and what their fatal flaw is supposed to be, when you’re 25K into NaNoWriMo and feel like you’ve forgotten your own name, not to mention the Mentor’s from chapter one!
Other writers find they need a map to get started. It helps them visualise the journeys their characters make, and what they’ll encounter along the way. There are loads of amazing mapmaking sites, or you can draw your own (it doesn’t have to be great – the map for my first novel was drawn in MS paint!). And it goes without saying that you can store all of this stuff – plots, characters, maps, etc – in World Anvil. Then it’ll be easy to refer back to when you need it during the NaNoWriMo marathon!
3. Curate your inspiration and research during Preptober
NaNoWriMo is a marathon, and you’re not going to have time to pull out a textbook. So, whether your novel’s set in Victorian London, America’s Wild West, or Medieval Japan – make sure you do your research ahead of time! Make a list of a few novels and movies related to your setting or genre. Read a bit of related history. If your NaNoWriMo project is set in a place you’ve never been, you can upload your maps ahead of time to World Anvil (check out the major Maps Upgrade we just did!). This will get you in the mood so that, when NaNoWriMo starts, you’re ready to dive into your setting! Check out this worldbuilding inspiration, too!
4. …and create things to re-inspire you during NaNoWriMo!
During your research period, you can embed pictures, Spotify tracks and YouTube videos into a generic article on World Anvil to create a library of inspiration. This library can fuel your enthusiasm for your NaNoWriMo WIP (Work in Progress) when you’re feeling a bit uninspired. You can even use it to generate more ideas at times when you can’t write – for example, scrolling through your library of sound and images on the bus, so you’re inspired to get your daily wordcount done during lunchtime. It’ll also help shift a writer’s block – if you get stuck, just go back to your inspiration collections to get you going again!
5. Get used to documenting your daily word count *before* NaNoWriMo
This is a great habit to get in to – documenting your daily word count. You can do this in a few ways:
- Keep your daily writing instalments in different prose articles on World Anvil, and it’ll automatically calculate your word count for you!
- Create a spreadsheet and document your starting and ending wordcount, then subtract the first from the second. It’s a bit of a faff…
- Separate your daily writing instalment so you remember where you started, select the text and use the wordcount tool to tell you how much you wrote. Just make sure you don’t add or remove other text from the document!
These numbers will give you an accurate understanding of how many words you can turn out at once. They’ll help you understand if you’re slowing down a little bit, or picking up speed during a project. Comparing these over different projects can help give you a better understanding of your general writing trends, which is really helpful information when you’re working to a deadline!
6. Do your worldbuilding during Preptober
So, assuming you have the basic idea about your novel, there’s probably already some worldbuilding to do. Do you need to create a city, or maybe a clandestine organisation? Will there be a school of magic in your novel, or a group of ninjas? Chances are, there’s at least some worldbuilding you KNOW will be in your NaNoWriMo project, and you can start sketching that out during Preptober. Of course, you can tweak or change it later, if you have to. And you don’t have to build the whole world! Just make sure you put the key parts in place.
For example, if you know that your wizard is going to wizard school, think a little bit about the character of the school – is it a sleek, contemporary skyscraper in the city, or an old-school Mage’s tower? Give it a name, even just a placeholder. Nailing down some of the basics will make your WIP go smoother come the start of NaNoWriMo.
This is also a good moment to decide the scope of your world. Whether your WIP takes place in a city, a country or over a whole continent, pinning down the scope can help prevent you from getting lost. And if you want more worldbuilding inspiration, check out our Immersive Worldbuilding series on Youtube!
7. Choose your writing space for NaNoWriMo (and have a backup!)
I don’t know where you write. Maybe it’s in the break room at work with headphones on, or the local library, or in the living room after the kids have gone to bed. For me, the best time is early in the morning, and my preferred place is on the floor behind the sofa – my little writing nook. I’ll cosy down there with a blanket and pillow, and sink into my WIP.
Wherever you write, if it’s working for you then go back there! It’ll help set you up for a good writing session. And if it’s not working, or if your writing space becomes distracting or noisy, then try something else. Preptober is a great time to try out a few different writing spaces. And you can pick one (or a couple, as back up) for your NaNoWriMo hotspot.
8. Prepare for your writing rituals during Preptober
Do you need a cup of tea or coffee when you write? Maybe you write best with mood music, or in candlelight? Or perhaps you have to listen to an episode of Writing Excuses first? Do you prefer to write by hand or on the computer? Plan your rituals around writing, and make sure you have everything you’ll need to set the mood for yourself before NaNoWriMo begins! Stock up on those special tea bags if you have to, and make sure your headphones are working!
9. Reward yourself – NaNoWriMo is hard!
NaNoWriMo is a marathon, not a walk in the park. It’s HARD, and we all need a little reward from time to time. So during Preptober you can plan your bribes for yourself! How will you reward yourself when you go beyond your wordcount? That might be treating yourself to a piece of fancy chocolate or a beer, or putting a dollar in the “buy something nice” jar. Seriously, though – it’ll help your word count to know that there are short-term rewards, too!
10. Get used to skipping the delete key during Preptober
In the month leading up to NaNoWriMO, spend some time writing without using the delete or backspace. Just let your words be on the page. It’s great training for getting your ideas onto the page, and you won’t have time to edit everything you write if you’re going to make it to 50K in a month. It’ll be hard at first but, trust me, it’s going to make your NaNoWriMo go a whole lot smoother. NaNoWriMo is about getting your first draft down, that’s all. It’s not supposed to be perfect, and there’ll be plenty of time for editing your first draft later!
And there you have it! 10 ways you can use Preptober (and World Anvil) to prepare for NaNoWriMo.
Remember, I’ll be live streaming my own NaNoWriMo preparation each Sunday at 20h BST (12 noon, PST) on the World Anvil Twitch channel, so come and join me! Wishing you all an awesome National Novel Writing Month!