NaNoWriMo Early Warning Alert: 6 Ways to Prepare for Success

When the calendar flipped over to a new month in the middle of the night few of us were awake and thinking about the dwindling number of days until National Novel Writing Month takes over our lives.

But there are five things we can be doing now so we’re refreshed, organized, and ready to write at the stroke of midnight on the first day of November.  In the next thirty days you can prepare everything you need for NaNoWriMo success.


1.  Wrap up other work

Get your other projects done or map out a good stopping point on them.  If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo, you know you won’t have time to work on multiple projects.  Not if you want to reach 50,000 words by November 30.  And you do, don’t you?

If you’re new to NaNo, take our word for it.  You’re going to be so busy you won’t have time to watch the leaves fall from your favorite tree.


2.  Organize your work space

If your working environment is toxic or cluttered, you won’t want to sit and work for hours at a time.  If you need a more comfy chair, scour the house, or visit a consignment shop.  Try a chair out.  Sit and read for a while.  Are you still comfortable?  Would that comfort extend to working on your computer?  Do you need a throw rug to keep your toes warm as temperatures take their plunge into winter depths?

How about clutter in your workspace?  Do you have a worldwide monopoly on the sticky note market, covering every available space with comments and reminders?  Maybe you can transfer all those notes into one easy to find notebook.

Whatever you need to remove or replace to make your space work for you, take the time now to make that happen.  You’ll be so glad you did when you reach the end of your challenge and your muscles aren’t locked into knots.


3.  Organize your story idea

Take some time to think about what you want to write during November.  If you’re an outliner, get at least a bare-bones outline on paper.  If you’re a panster, start taking notes about plot points and story arcs you want to make sure you create.

Just a bit of planning now will help you get off to a swift start when it’s time to start writing.  You’ll feel confident and strong from the first day, and that will influence the rest of your month.


4.  Stock up on essentials

What does it take to keep you energized?  Caffeine?  Chocolate?  Mac and cheese?  Check out the post-Halloween and pre-Thanksgiving sales and take advantage of the lower prices for your goodies.

If you can’t write unless you’re wearing fluffy pink socks that reach your knees, make sure you have enough pairs on hand to get through the month.

If you must have a specific ink pen with a custom shade of ink in order to write your story longhand, order spares right now.

Gather everything that makes you a happy and productive writer, and make sure those items are easy to reach from your comfy writing chair.


5.  Decide on a Super Win Treat

Figure out something you can gift yourself with to celebrate your success.  Small treats for completing your daily word count.  Larger ones for passing milestones in your novel.  And a really nice, generous treat when you raise your hands in victory while your word count tool flashes “50,000!”

While you’re at it, come up with some ideas for treats for your family to thank them for cooperating with your need to lock yourself in the study and write for thirty days.  Does this sound like a bribe?  So?  If it works it will be worth it when you’ve enjoyed thirty days of writing time, hot meals delivered silently to the edge of your desk, and loud applause when you emerge triumphant from your writing cave.

Writing doesn’t have to be a thankless job.  Reward yourself for your hard work.  It’ll make it easier to keep going.  And to start a new novel in December.


6.  Take a break

You’ve got plenty of time to get everything organized before the last week of October.  Take a break, breathe, bob for a few apples.  Don’t think about writing until November.  Then hit it fast and hit it hard.


I won’t be registering with NaNo this year, because I’ll be adding words to a current manuscript.  What are your NaNoWriMo goals for 2014?  Share with us in the comments, and we’ll all be rooting for each other.

2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Early Warning Alert: 6 Ways to Prepare for Success

  1. It is so lovely to read all those encouraging words! I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo and at same time I am scared – what if I stuck in the middle and wouldn’t know my way out!? I keep reading about NaNo everything from everywhere at the moment but still haven’t conviced myself. Thank you to all good will writers.

    1. Ah, Virginija, that’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. There’s an instant community of supporters to cheer you on and help you keep moving. Remember, what you write in November is your first draft. First drafts by definition are U-G-L-Y! If you get stuck in the middle, keep writing and see where your characters take you. Or if you know what the ending is, write that and come back to the middle later to see what has to happen in order to get to that ending.

      On the website, find your closest regional group and join it. You’ll receive emails from the regional manager about opportunities to get together with your fellow NaNo-ers to write and support each other in person. Those occasions usually involve lots of caffeine and snacks, so that’s even better.

      But do sign up and give it a try. If at the end of the month you only have 10,000 words instead of 50,000, well that’s more words than you had when you began. And you don’t lose those words even if you have to put them away for a while and take care of the other parts of your life. Once you have them on paper you can go back and finish your novel anytime.

      Be sure to let us know when you sign up, and do come back and let us know your results at the end of NaNoWriMo. You can do it!

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