8 Preptober Tips for NaNoWrimo
We’re in October! That means we enter the PrepTober season, with all the preparation before NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and happens every year in November. The official goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I’m giving you eight tips to make the most of your month of October.
Last updated: October 2021
Tip #1: Why do you want to do NaNoWriMo?
My first tip for October would be to actually reflect on NaNoWriMo. Why do you want to do the challenge? What are you trying to achieve? As I mentioned, the official goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in a month, but some of us don’t have that big of a goal. Even though you’re planning on working on your story, you can write as much as you plan on doing. Maybe you’ll have a 25,000 word goal. Or maybe you’ll have a write for an hour type of goal. NaNoWriMo is less about word count, and more about the writing community. And it’s all about mindset, so make sure you know why you’re doing it and what you’ll actually do ‘cause it's easy to get overwhelmed by the excitement.
Tip #2: Time management
NaNoWriMo is also about time management. Writing 1,665 words per day might not be possible for everyone as is. So my second tip is to already book your time slots in your calendar to know exactly when you’re going to focus on your story during the month of November. In addition to that, it might also be a good idea to tell your friends and family that you won’t be as available as usual during that month so they respect your time and energy.
Tip #3: What do you need to do before November 1st
Now that you’ve reflected on the challenge and that you’ve planned your writing sessions in advance, it’s time to make a todo list of what you need to do before NaNoWriMo, A K A the preptober list. Maybe you need to clear the month from appointments, or cook meals, or stock up on snacks and coffee, or choose which story you’ll go with, or plan some relaxing time before the challenge hits. That list is up to you.
Tip #4: Get to know your characters
My next tip is to get to know your characters a little bit. What are their names? What are their problems, wants and needs? Can you describe them physically and mentally? What are their favourite colours and hobbies? What do they do for a living? There are a few templates on the internet that you can use to build your characters, so I’ll link one or two in the description for you. You can also have a go at the Save the Cat Writes a Novel book, it has some useful tips on how to build your characters and plot. Needless to say you need to know your characters to know with whom you’re going to play.
Tip #5: Plotting or pantsing
Next up is the story itself. If you’re a pantser like me, you’re probably thinking you don’t need an outline. But let me tell you that thinking about your story and having a small plan of what’s going to happen in that story can help a ton when participating in a challenge like NaNoWriMo. Think about the amount of words you need to put in. If you don’t have at least a tiny summary of what’s going to happen, you’re going to struggle and drop out of the challenge. So my tip here is to write down a couple things you’d like to happen in your story. I’m not saying you need to know every single detail, but a small list can help. I personally did a brainstorming for my story and came up with a hundred ideas of things that may or may not happen so if I’m ever getting stuck, I can unlock my creativity. Once again, I’m not saying you should get that list of a hundred ideas but they can definitely help. And for the plotters among us, having an outline will be your jam.
Tip #6: Set up your playlist
On the same lines of your characters and story, it might be a good idea to think about preparing a mood board or a playlist to help you get creative during NaNoWriMo. If you’re visual or if you need music to work on your story, these are a must have. Just go on Pinterest or Spotify to set them up. It’s fun and will help your creativity to sparkle in November.
Tip #7: Set up a reward system
What I hear from lots of authors is that some of us need incentives to keep on writing. For example, you might say you’ll go to a fancy restaurant if you reach your goal for the month. Or, if you need rewards along the way, you may tell yourself you can buy a book for each 10,000 words written. It can also be having a nice bubble bath, a chill night with your loved ones, a star sticker, a NaNoWriMo t-shirt,... the choice is yours to have as many rewards as you want.
Tip #8: Sign up for NaNoWriMo
And lastly: sign up onto the NaNoWriMo website and get familiar with it. You can announce your novel if you already know what you’ll be working on, and find your region to connect with fellow NaNoWriters. The website is also full of resources in the forum to prepare for the challenge, so don’t hesitate to abuse it.