It’s October, and you know what that means.
The release of my urban fantasy/supernatural novel Dark is the Night releases in eight days! NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and those of us who want to sit down and write our annual 50,000 words in a month are putting our brains in a very warlike state of being in preparation for the grueling, delightful task. NaNoWriMo is no easy thing—but this year will be my eleventh year in a row, so I think I can safely say: I’ve got a pretty good handle on this, and I may have some tips to help you out.
TIP NUMBER ONE: Gather Your Bones
I’m what Arielle calls ‘a discovery writer.’ It means I don’t have things mapped, plotted, and organized before I sit down to write. I have an IDEA of what to write, I have the soul of the thing, but I have to discover it as I go along. For me, knowing too much about the book beforehand kills my inspiration and desire to write it. That said, I’ve learned over the years that I do need to know something about the book before I start it. I need to know the main idea, I need to know the themes, I need to be familiar with the focal characters. I need to have some names for things. Enough bits and pieces to get me going. I call these the bones of my novel. Some authors need everything pre-assembled: bones, muscles, flesh, before they start, but I find that kills my creativity. Even if you’re a panster, though, you need to know something about your novel before you start in order to keep from stalling two weeks into November.
TIP NUMBER TWO: Assemble Your Inspiration
My novels are usually the result of 1-2 years’ worth of various inspirational bits I’ve collected. A book here, a podcast there, a song, a scene, a word. Time to have some fun—build your Spotify playlist, start pinning aesthetic pictures to your Pinterest board, start reading books and watching movies in the genre you’ve chosen to write. You want to do things like this now, rather than in November, because if November 1st rolls around and you haven’t built your Playlist yet, you’re going to spend writing time doing that instead of putting words on the page. You want to get ready! Be hyped! Lunge out of the gate as soon as it’s time, with all this inspiration stacked up ready to shove you forward!
Tip Number Three: Think NaNo Thoughts
Do you have time to daydream while doing the dishes? Enter the world of your NaNo novel while you stack. Do you like taking long walks? Think about NaNo while you crunch on those fall leaves. Letting your brain explore the book before you really begin to write it is a good way to get yourself hyped and ready to write. You want to stay excited and inspired for the book even before November so that when it rolls around, you’re bursting at the seams! I listen to music constantly, and so when I’m doing chores, exercising, what-have-you, I’m also mentally spending time in my novel world. (Those who know me might argue I do that constantly anyway, but really it’s a matter of purposefully directing your daydreams to suit your needs. Daydreaming is a discipline when done correctly, and can keep your mind primed for the work you need it to do.)
Tip Number Four: It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This
Of course you don’t NEED a partner during NaNoWriMo; you can very easily go it alone and do it yourself without suffering too much. However (and this is coming from me, a human with extreme Omega syndrome) having a writing partner has a myriad of excellent benefits. Not only can you bounce ideas off one another, you can word-war together, discuss various ideas, keep each other hyped, send each other things that remind you of each others’ novels, etc. It makes the experience more fun and provides you with backup for that mid-month lag where you start to wonder if ‘maybe it’s okay to not reach 50,000 words.’
It’s not a very complicated process, and it gets much easier with time. It used to be a grueling task—now I look forward to it without any of the mingled dread I felt as a teen. After all, it’s only 1,667 words a day.