Prepping for NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it does what it says on the tin: you write a full draft of a novel in a month. It won’t be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever created but it’ll be done. And a done thing is something special. Can’t edit a blank page etc…

There’s a website for the hardcore NaNoWrimers who’d like to buddy up and there are badges and goodies on offer for ‘winners’ i.e. anyone who gets 50,000 words down in the month of November. This is my first crack at it and as I’m working on young illustrated fiction, I’m aiming at half that for the word count. My workload is already crazy (for some very exciting reasons!) and I can’t deal with another website SO, instead, I’ve joined Sarah Broadley’s ‘Nearly Nano’ club, a closed Facebook group of writers who are NEARLY Nano-ing.

It’s NaNoWriMo eve and here’s where I am with prep:

  1. Writing space cleared and prettified. (Note - the picture above is NOT a picture of my actual writing space though I’d LOVE a golden pineapple and a rusty old typewriter.)

  2. Writing buddies located (in my case the whole of the Nearly Nano club - am swimming in their slipstream!)

  3. New Moleskine prepped and favourite pen kept aside. Pen(s) hidden away from tiny hands. Last thing we need during NaNoWriMo is a pen crisis.

  4. Mentor texts chosen for the journey. I want to eat, sleep, and breathe the genre. One of the best things I learned from Louise Dean at The Novelry was the importance of studying the masters. I’m spending the first few days deconstructing some books and figuring out what makes them work. The rest of the month, I’ll be reading my mentor texts over and over alongside drafting my own. As Louise says, we have two pedals - one is writing, the other is reading!

  5. Scrivener set up with chapter breakdowns and character profiles. Synopsis ready to be tweaked, cut up and expanded into scenes in the first week of NaNoWriMo. Character profiles in dire need of fleshing out but again, I’m making time for that in the first week of November once the little ones are back in school.

  6. Training schedule fixed. This sounds out of place, I know, but hear me out. Fitness is my lead domino - it’s the One Thing I can work on that makes everything else better (thank you Gary Keller and Jay Papasan). If I’m really going to get through a 25k draft AND honour my other writing commitments AND be a decent parent, I need to be healthy. I’m done with burnout. I played that game in my 20s as a lawyer. That’s not me anymore. I’m doing things differently now. And lifting weights completely transforms my level of focus for the entire day.

  7. Timeblocking sorted for the month. I’m a HUGE fan of productivity hacks and this is one of my favourites. Since becoming a parent, I’ve lost a lot of the flexibility I had. I now have drop-offs, pick-ups, clubs, school commitments and a heap of extra life admin to contend with. My way of dealing with that is to block out time for specific writing projects and for reading.

So that’s me all set, I think. Woefully underprepared plot-wise but I am where I am and I have my reasons! It’s such a hectic month, actually, so it’s counter-intuitive to be squeezing in drafting a whole novel but I have a feeling it’ll work out. I plan on being SUPER-forgiving - it’s a Draft Zero. I just want to get something down. Also, next year, things are going to get REALLY busy so this is essentially ‘downtime’!

Enough of my rambling. MASSES of good luck to everyone attempting NaNoWriMo (or Nearly Nano) this month! WE GOT THIS. And if we don’t, well, that’s okay too…