5 Tips to Prepare for NaNoWriMo


We’re already halfway through October, which means that in only half a month, we’ll be typing the first words of our NaNoWriMo novels. Exciting! – or scary. Or possibly both. I guess it all depends on where you are in the planning process. I know people who have zero plans and are grasping for a plot before October passes them by, and people who have meticulously planned everything out and are just itching for November to arrive. Whether you’re a planner or a pantser, there are certain ways that you can definitely start preparing for NaNoWriMo. And these don’t involve coffee or snacks – though those are also important.

Here are five ways you can utilise the rest of October to prepare for the upcoming month of intense writing:

1. Tell people you’re doing NaNoWriMo
This is the most important thing you should do before NaNoWriMo. Tell lots of people you’re doing it. Tell your best friend, tell your family, tell your co-workers, tell the internet. Tell everyone. Not only does it help other people prepare for a month where you might be a little bit checked out, but it also holds you accountable. Once you’ve told everyone that you’ve set out to write 50,000 words in the month of November, it’s a tad embarrassing to give them lackluster updates. Being held accountable by other people is a great motivator.

2. Visuals
If you add your novel to the official NaNoWriMo website, they tell you that uploading a cover of your novel increases your chances of winning by 60%. I always wondered why that was. There is something quite wonderful about seeing a cover for your novel. I think it can make you more invested in the writing and it can make it feel more real than just words on paper.

But more than that, I think having that visual inspiration can help you visualise a lot of things in your novel, and ultimately can be very helpful in the writing process. So a really good way to prepare for NaNoWriMo is to find visual cues that inspire you. Whether this is creating a novel cover on photoshop, putting together some sketches (if you’re artistic), or just making a quick storyboard on Pinterest. These can all be very helpful in terms of inspiration and motivation.

3. Nano forums
If you haven’t had a trawl through the NaNo forums what are you even doing with your life? Those forums are absolute gold. They have everything from writing tools to entire plots that you can adopt. Whatever your writing method, you will find something of use in those forums.

4. Find your people
For me, the best thing about NaNoWriMo has always been that it’s a month where you aren’t the only one writing. Writing, which can often feel quite isolated, is suddenly like a club that everybody has joined for this month. So it’s really important that you find your community and your people during this month because they’re the ones who will encourage you to keep going. Obviously, there will be a lot of people all over the internet participating in NaNoWriMo, but it might be a good idea to see if there are any local groups participating, so you can go to write-ins and meet like-minded people to talk craft and wordcount with.

5. Calendars are your friends
My NaNoWriMo does not start until I have a NaNoWriMo calendar somewhere. Usually, I set it as the background to my phone or my laptop so that I always know what word count I should be at. It’s a fantastic motivator and it always keeps me on my toes. You will find a lot of calendars on the NaNo Artisans subforum, but if you’re artistic, make a customised one for yourself (and share with us)!