• Megan Snedeker

NaNoWriMo: Ready, Set Go!

With NaNoWriMo literally hanging over our heads, I want to shout out a challenge to this year's participants: Are you ready?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is hard. There's no easy way of saying it, and no point trying to make it sound easy. It isn't. Writing 1,667 words every single day for 30 days is hard, plain and simple. Having to also create a semi-concrete plot with a beginning, middle, end, and character arcs and sub-plots on top of that word count is incredibly difficult.

Having some planned out characters, having nice sketches of your complex fantasy world is nice, and is great preparation for this upcoming journey, but there's more to preparing for NaNo than that.

I've attempted to compile a comprehensive list of preparing you for Day 1 tomorrow - the tools you'll need, resources to help you along, and what you can do to be NaNoReady.

Obviously, I'm not saying you have to thoroughly plan out your story; that's just not everyone's style, and that's fine! But, if you want suggestions for how you can plan out your story to prepare you for November, here are some suggestions!

1. Character Profiles

Having quick-reference sheets for your main characters and villains can be a great addition to your pre-writing work. It's incredibly helpful to have a consistent basis in which to pull from. It helps when giving physical descriptions, mentioning dates of a character's life, or deciding how a character might act.

For the geekier folk out there, think about Dungeons and Dragons. You may know your character fairly well (you created them after all), but you still keep a character sheet with you to refer back to.

Writing a novel is no different. Having the ability to keep running tabs on the sort of person your main character is is so useful!

If you want some help, check out these links!

Complex Character Sheet:


Simple Character Sheet:


2. World-Building

Unless you're writing in a very familiar world (like our world or fanfiction), you might want to do a little world-building before you start working.

You can get really in-depth with this if you want, again, think Dungeons & Dragons, but that's really not necessary. You probably won't end up showing that much of the world in your story, and won't require the planning expected of a DnD Dungeon Master.

However, having a basic idea of how your world works, how it's structured politically, and understanding the major locations of it can really help you get started in your writing.

3. Sub-Plots

This might not be the standard part of novel planning, but for the sake of something like NaNoWriMo, knowing your potential sub-plots can be incredibly helpful.

With the fast-paced nature of NaNoWriMo, if you get writer's block on your main plot, you need to keep working and writing. If you plan out some potential sub-plots you want to explore over the course of your novel, you have an idea to start writing when you need a break from the primary plot arc.

Think of things like romance sub-plots, character arcs, redemption stories, backstories, etc.

I think writers (especially newer writers) forget to prepare themselves for challenges like this. NaNoWriMo is stressful, and you need to be ready to face that stress head-on. Here are some of the ways you can get yourself ready for your upcoming journey!

1. Get Organized

Use the above tips and advice, and get yourself organized for NaNo! Being organized will help you face NaNoWriMo with less stress and give you a bit of additional confidence going into it.

2. Schedule Self-Care Days

Just like you should schedule writing time, you should also schedule yourself some down-time. Set a weekly day when you take the additional time to take care of yourself. Watch your favorite movie, read a book just for fun, or treat yourself to an at-home spa day.

This can be a way to keep yourself motivated to write throughout the week, and also helps you de-stress from the work and effort of NaNo.

3. Make Friends/Work With Friends

Try to develop a support system for yourself during NaNoWriMo! If you have writer friends, try to get them to embark on this crazy adventure with you. Having somebody you can cry to, vent to, or bounce ideas off of can be crucial for not losing your mind during November.

If you don't have writer friends, try to make some friends within the NaNo community! Below I'll offer some examples of communities you could join, and the one similarity they all share is that the people there want to talk to other writers. That's why these communities exist - for writers to connect with writers during the month of NaNo, and then after as well. Establishing new friendships can make the whole adventure easier and more inviting.

4. Join Communities

There are so many communities available during NaNoWriMo for you to find people to connect with! These communities have games, ideas for your story, places to connect with others, and can answer questions during your journey.

Here are some communities you can explore:

5. Keep an Emergency NaNo Kit

This is just a fun little thing you can make for yourself when you need some emergency assistance during NaNoWriMo. Get yourself a little box and pack it with some emergency "supplies" for when you need a quick fix!

Some of the things you can include:

  • Jar of Writing Prompts (Pull these out when you just can't get rid of your writer's block and try to include these prompts in your novel somewhere)

  • Pouch of RPG Dice (If you can't make a decision, use this variety of differently-numbered dice to roll outcomes. Or, if you need help with writer's block, use your dice to roll for different events or scenarios to include in your novel)

  • Snacks

  • Coffee and/or Tea

  • Small Notebook and Pen (Sometimes getting into a different environment can help. Use these to take your writing somewhere else for a little bit)

  • Fidget Toy

  • Jar of Favorite Quotes (Use these when you need inspiration or motivation!)

  • Tissues

  • Tylenol

  • Your Favorite Book (Pull this guy out when NaNo is really stressing you out, and let yourself relax for a bit with your favorite story. Or, use it for inspiration)

Feel ready to begin your NaNo journey? Before you go, here's one last list of resources and tools to help you along!

NaNoWriMo Calendars:

Writing Tools:

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© 2018 Megan Snedeker