5 Things You Should do Before November First

Of course, my luck is the sort where I get very, very sick at the worst possible time. For example, on Saturday morning I woke up very very early because I couldn’t breath. A box of kleenex and several rolls of toilet paper later, today I actually feel good enough to go back to school and get some work done. Nanowrimo is right around the corner now and it’s terrifying. I know what story I’m writing, but I haven’t dug out my binder to look at my notes. I haven’t gotten ahead in my homework. As it stands now, thanks to my awful head cold this weekend, I’m actually really behind in my homework.

This looks like it’s going to be my most difficult Nanowrimo in years. I’ve got more homework than ever before, I’m interning with Musa Publishing, and I’m part of a local weekly writing group. And I really haven’t done much prep work over the last month. With that in mind, here are five things I’m going to to before November first that you should try to do too:

1. Make a basic plot list. If I was more creative and not overcoming the worst cold I’ve had all year, I’d come up with a cooler name for this. The idea–and I’ve never done this before, but I think it’s going to be fun–is to get a big piece of chart or poster paper and to write the most important parts of your plot on it. You can make it an ordinary list, a timeline, or whatever you want. If you’re feeling really creative you can even make a storyboard. I’ll probably just be sticking with a list or a timeline. Put the list up next to your work area. If you haven’t carved out a corner of your house and told your family that you’re not to be disturbed while you’re in that corner, do that now. It will be difficult to enforce that this is your work area and that you need the time to write, so try to make it an out of the way spot where people are less likely to bother you.

2. Watch a movie with your family/lovers/friends. This may not seem like it has anything to do with your novel, and I’ll tell you a secret: this may not have anything to do with your novel. But if you’re a busy person with a job or school or just a lot of volunteer commitments, you probably already have limited time to spend with these people you love so much. Next month, you’re going to have even less time than that. I’ve already told my boyfriend that I’ll need two hours every day to work on my Nanovel. With that in mind, I’m going to take care to spend some extra time with him this weekend. We might go see Puss ‘N’ Boots. We might just stay home and hang out. Either way, I’m going to make sure I spend some time with him so he doesn’t feel completely abandoned next month, and you should do the same for the people you care about.

3. Go for a long walk. You won’t have any time for this next month, and if you live in Canada like me, you probably won’t want to go on many long walks next month anyway. It does tend to get cold. Get some fresh air and some exercise, and enjoy nature. You won’t have the time to next month.

4. Write 1, 667 words. Go on, try it. Get a feel for how much you’ll be writing every day and how long it’s going to take you. The best way to know how long it’s going to take you to write 1, 667 words every day is to actually try it. If you’re stuck for an idea, try writing about a traumatic moment in your main character’s past. Write about the lead up to the moment, the trauma itself, and the moments that come after. This will give you a more concrete idea of how much time you’ll need to spend working on your Nanovel every day and help you get into the writing zone.

5. Go to your local Kick-off Party. Go out and meet your fellow Nanoers. Odds are, they are wonderful people. If your region isn’t that active, look for one nearby and see if you can go to one of their events. Meeting these people face to face is a lot of fun, and it really encourages you to complete your novel. My first Nanowrimo, it was the challenge of proving to everyone that an eleven year old could write a novel which made me finish. While I think I probably would’ve won most years without the support of the community, I know I wouldn’t have had as much fun, and I certainly never would’ve written 300, 000 words. So go out and meet the Nanowrimo people in your area. It might just be one of the most awesome nights of your life.

Remember that Nanowrimo is two parts fun and one part slave labour. Writing a novel in a month should be extremely challenging, but it should also be fun(to the exclusion of all other fun activities). Above all else, make sure that you have fun this month. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on coffee, tea, or whatever it is you drink to boost your energy: you really will need all the extra energy you can get.

What last minute preparations are you making for your Nanowrimo?