And if I hear you playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I'm going to start ignoring you.
It's National Novel Writing Month* season!
A few weeks ago I was freaking out because I hadn't decided what I was going to write about. Well, all of that is solved, I have a novel idea in my mind and I'm already working on creating characters.
This will be my sixth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I plan on it being my sixth year winning as well.
While NaNoWriMo doesn't start until November 1, I still consider October part of the "season." I love taking the month of October to wrap up other projects I'm working on, but also to plan and prepare for my upcoming novel as much as I can.
NaNoWriMo season is seriously one of my favorite parts of the year. While I write all year around and work on several projects, I love having an excuse to dive head-on into a story I'm working on. If I'm up late writing, or sit at Starbucks typing for hours, or find myself jotting notes while at work, I can say "It's NaNoWriMo!" and people understand.
There's also a built in writing community for these months. People I can bounce ideas off of, get suggestions and feedback from, and I can see what projects other people are working on. I can make writing friends and do word sprints at almost any time of day so I can get my word count for the day finished.
If you're thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, here are some of my tips for the month of October as you plan and make a decision:
|My notebook for 2013|
- Get a notebook and carry it around with you at all times. Heck, if you are a nerd like me, use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to buy some new pens too. It can be a "traditional" notebook that you carry around in a bag. Mine is really small and fits into a small purse and only cost a couple of bucks at Target. However, you can also use the notes feature on your smart phone, or one of my all time favorite apps for my iPad is Penultimate. You can actually write in it, put in pictures, draw, use different colored pens etc. I use it for work all of the time and used it for NaNoWriMo last year. It was amazing! Also, it now syncs with Evernote so you can get your notes on your computer too. But no matter what version of "notebook" you want to use, USE IT! You never know when inspiration will hit and you're going to want to write it down and have all of your notes in one place.
- Decide how/where you'll write your novel. Will you use a word processing program? I've heard of some people even just using Notes on their iPhone to write their novel. Maybe you'll use Google Docs. Personally, I'm going to try to use Scrivener this year. It's a program for writers, and they're even doing a special trial just for NaNoWriMo participants. You can get it free from now until December 7, and then if you win, you get an awesome discount to buy it. (Normally it's like $40-$50, and you can get up to 50% off.) I only suggest figuring out how you'll write it now. That way, if you're using a new program than normal, you can get used to it now and not have to worry about logistics in November.
- Start planning now! I know some people can just sit down November 1 and start writing and win. That's awesome! However, I'm not one of them. I need to have some sort of idea of what I'm writing. Use the next few weeks to figure out your characters, get an outline together, think about themes you want to have in your novel, etc. This is the time to daydream and plan to your hearts content! Your outline doesn't have to be perfect and you can leave room for random things to happen. My stories doesn't always turn out the way my outline originally said it was going to. But at least I had a jumping off point. When I know where my story is going, I can figure out how to get there. Also, I love getting to know my characters. A lot of times you'll get to know them as you write, but you can start developing them now.
- Get connected to the NaNoWriMo community. I cannot emphasize this enough. Create your NaNoWriMo profile, add buddies (here is my profile - add me!), and get on the forums. Whenever people tell me that they don't have any ideas to write about, but still want to participate, I tell them to go to the forums. You can find a discussion thread for almost anything. Random topics, finding character names, finding plot ideas, creating villains, doing research, getting feedback on your writing, etc. There's also a great Facebook group which is constantly getting traffic because people are getting and sharing advice for November. Also, search your favorite social media sites. There are a TON of people on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. who participate in NaNoWriMo. These people are invaluable to you and helping you get your novel finished!
- Arrange your schedule. I know a lot of you are busy, and that's one of the number one reasons people say they can't do NaNoWriMo. But you totally can! You just need to rearrange your schedule a bit. Think about some of the things you can cut out. Netflix? Facebook? Tumbr? I'm not saying you need to cut these things out completely, but you can shave off your normal time on those things. They'll be there waiting in December. Use October to figure out your November schedule. One of my favorite things to do is to find one day a week where I can fit in a long Starbucks writing session. Where I can just grab my laptop after work and head over to Starbucks and have a block of time dedicated to writing. You can also use October as a time to work ahead on other things, that way you don't fall behind in your real life in November.
- Tell people about NaNoWriMo. Accountability is HUGE. If people know you're working on a novel, usually they'll be supportive. The more people who know you're working on NaNoWriMo, the more accountability you have.
Also - find Kristina Horner and Katytastic on YouTube. They've also been doing NaNoWriMo for FOREVER and have some of the best pep talk and advice videos.
*AKA- NaNoWriMo, where people all over the world attempt to write a 50k word novel in 30 days. It begins in November and you "win" by writing all 50,000 words. It's not really a competition against other people. It's all about creating a goal for yourself and making it.