How do you prepare for a big undertaking like NaNoWriMo? You can just stumble into your novel-writing journey headfirst drunk buffalo style and hope it all works out. But you’ll have your best shot at success if you do a little preparation before the month begins.
But I’m not talking about your novel itself, though your certainly welcome to prep that if your plotter heart desires. What I’m talking about is the kind of prep work even the most devout pantser can get on board with: preparing your life itself for the epic disruption of your normal routine that will be NaNoWriMo.
You’ll be writing a ton of words next month, possibly more than you’ve ever written in your life. Are you really ready? Here are a few little things you can do ahead of time to make that challenge go a little bit easier:
Work out the kinks in your writing routine.
The last thing you want to do is sit down on November 1st to start your novel and discover that the laptop you planned to write on doesn’t work. Or that the writing app you picked has a steeper learning curve than you anticipated. Or that the hour when you planned to get your morning pages done is when your neighbor practices his bagpipes just outside your kitchen window.
Give your writing routine a trial run now so that when November starts you can just concentrate on getting the words down.
There’s a huge election right at the top of this year’s NaNoWriMo and many a Wrimo’s novel-writing effort has been derailed by elections past. Inoculate yourself against that happening to you this year by getting your civic duty done early if you can. See if your state offers a way to vote early here. And if you aren’t registered to vote yet, it only takes a minute, but do it NOW because the deadline for many places is Tuesday, October 16th.
For instance, anyone in New Jersey can request a ballot here, send it back by mail right now and, boom, democracy managed! I did this and now I’m all done early and when everyone else is stressing about where to vote and getting to the polls on time on Election Day, I’ll be chilling at home getting some extra words done on my novel knowing my vote was already counted.
Cut yourself some slack at work or school.
While you certainly can write a novel in any month, we all know there are some months that are easier than others. And though you can’t anticipate everything that will come up, there are some things on your schedule that have some wiggle room that you can move or get done early. Can you get that term paper done now instead of trying to finish it and your novel at the same time? Can you shuffle around some projects at work so that you’ve got a little more breathing room in November?
Look ahead and see where you can take some of the pressure off.
Free up some free time.
You’re going to need to actually write all those words next month and you’ll need to find time to do that. Free up some extra writing time at home by making meals ahead to freeze, securing childcare or setting up some strategically placed playdates, enlisting someone to help with household chores, whatever you can do to maximize the writing time you have next month.
While you’re at it, start managing expectations by telling your friends and loved ones about your November plans. It might make them a little more understanding when you have to ignore them for your imaginary friends.
Get a head start on the holidays.
Thanksgiving is going to happen right in the midst of NaNoWriMo with all the December holidays close behind. Before your novel gets trampled by holiday guests and hosting responsibilities, check some of that stuff off your list now. Making gift lists, menu planning, and even some shopping (food and presents both) are all things you can get started on in October so they won’t be jingling your bells (why does that sound so dirty?) while you’re trying to get your novel done.
Something. Anything. Some prep work. Your NaNo novel itself. A journal entry. That David S. Pumpkins / Dracula slash fic you’ve been toying with.
It doesn’t matter what you write, all the matters is that you start limbering up those writing muscles so when you face that blank page on November first, you’re an object already in motion instead of paralyzed by the enormity of starting from nothing.
In with the crisp fall air.
Out with the stress, the fear, the doubt.
You’ve got this.