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How To Prep Yourself and Your Schedule For NaNoWriMo

by Jennifer on October 31, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

It’s just about that time, writers: NaNoWriMo starts in 1 day.

Now that you’ve been working on planning your novel and getting to know your characters, it’s time to put the final piece of the writing puzzle in place. It’s time to work on clearing your schedule and prepping yourself for the month of November.

Prepping Your Schedule As you already know, NaNoWriMo is a pretty big challenge–write 50,000 words in 30 days. So in order to make that happen, you need to do the following:

  • Build Daily (Or Almost-Daily) Writing Time Into Your Schedule–Writing 50,000 words in 30 days requires you to write a minimum of 1,667 words each day. And while writing 1,667 words won’t take you all day, it will take you at least an hour or two. If you want to stay on track and make writing your NaNo novel an easier task, it’s important to build in time each day for writing.
  • Tell People You’re “Unavailable”–Of course you’re still going to have to do things like go to work or attend previously scheduled events. But for the most part, you should make yourself unavailable for the month of November. This means learning how to say no. Yes, it’s hard, but if you want to write a novel in 30 days, it’s a necessity.
  • Get Your Family and Friends On Board–You’re going to need some serious support from the people closest to you if you plan on winning NaNoWriMo. And by support, I don’t just mean someone to call and complain to when the writing’s not going well. You’ll also need people committed to your success. Now’s the time to get everyone on board. Share with them what you’re attempting and get them to take on some of your household chores for the month or to babysit a few nights a week so you can get writing done (you can always return the favor after November is over). Having people who are also committed to your success will help you be more successful.

Prepping Yourself It’s also important to prep yourself for NaNoWriMo, since this event is a lot more involved then it may seem. Right now, you don’t know what to expect, but after November 1, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to survive through the month and come out a winner.

It’s important to prep yourself for this month-long writing journey. If you don’t, you might get overwhelmed half way through. Here are my suggestions:

  • Make A Commitment to Your Writing–For the next 30 days, you must be committed to your writing. You must make hitting your daily word count a priority. If you feel excuses popping up right now, a good thing to do is to remind yourself that it’s only for 30 days. After December 1, you can go back to not writing or procrastinating or not being committed to your writing (if you want to).
  • Find A Distraction-Free Place to Write–Distractions are fine if you know how to manage them. But doing so is often pretty difficult. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a place where you can write without distractions, such as a coffee shop, a home office or even a closet if that’s all you can find. Writing without distractions will help you stay focused and get your word count done in less time.
  • Focus on Your Daily Word Count OnlyWriting every day for 30 days can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not used to writing that much/that often. One way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed is to only think about each day as it shows up, and not to focus on the whole month. When you focus on having to write 50,000 words, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to quit. But when you just focus on the word count you have to write each day (1,667 words), it won’t feel as difficult.

Another suggestion I always give NaNoWriMo writers is to build a “survival” kit that includes all the things you’ll need to make it through the month. Here are some items to include in your kit:

  • A notebook
  • A pen or pencil
  • A computer or word processor
  • A bottle of water
  • Eye re-wetting drops (for long hours staring at the computer screen)
  • A “muse” (whether that be music, a stuffed animal, a picture of a person/place, etc)
  • All your novel planning and character notes
  • An MP3 player (or CD player or other musical device)
  • Energy-sustaining snacks, such as nuts, trailmix, dried fruit or raw veggies with dip.
  • Organic dark chocolate (or any chocolate, but organic dark chocolate is the best!)
  • Coffee (or if you don’t have a coffee maker of your own, you could pick up some Starbucks Via, which is instant coffee you just add to water)
  • The phone number of a supportive friend/family member (you’ll need this for getting support or a instant pep-talk)

It’s also a good idea to check out the NaNoWriMo official website so you can register for the challenge and get all their fun tips, advice and information.

How are you prepping your schedule for NaNoWriMo? What items are you adding to your NaNoWriMo survival kit?

PS: If you’d like to sign up for my 30 Days of NaNo Tips for Procrastinating Writers, please send an e-mail to: jennifer@procrastinatingwriters.com and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll then get an e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription. I apologize that you can’t sign yourself up right now, but my blog is still down.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers. For more great writing tips, articles and advice, follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ryan November 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Just wanted to say welcome back, Jen. Now I’ll have fewer excuses to NOT write.

2 Jennifer November 1, 2010 at 2:05 pm

@ryan Thank you! I’m so happy to be back. For awhile there I thought I might have lost everything. Thankfully, I have the best tech guy ever and he saved this site from disappearing forever. 🙂

3 Laurie November 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Well it’s not going to happen THIS year, but I am committing myself to getting the notes and things together to make NaNoWriMo happen for me in 2011. Thanks for the tips!

4 Cygnet Brown November 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I am psyched and ready to go! I won NaNoWriMo last year and I used every tip you’ve expressed here in this blog. It isn’t impossible for anyone who has a mind to do it. It simply takes discipline and determination.

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