It's that time. I'm not talking about hurricanes, blizzards, flooding, severe cold or wind. I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month). If you're serious, don't be a twit and wait until the last minute to prepare. Like those who wait until the storm is bashing down their door to do something, it's too late then. Do. The. Prep. Now.
What will your novel be- science fiction? Historical? Contemporary? Paranormal? A combination? Get a good sense. You don't have to have the whole story in your head, but know how it will start, a few things that will happen in the middle, and how it will end. It may change, that's okay. When you have ideas to choose from, you'll be more confident and less likely to be stuck come writing day.
Know where you will work. Choose one or two places that you can retreat to to write. Honestly, you can't write at the kitchen table when people pass through often, or are clamoring for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Or you have to clear up your stuff when they want to eat. Maybe your laptop in your car at a quiet park during the day, on your lunchbreak from work. Maybe the family room when everyone else is at school/work. If you can, prep the space. Have your thesaurus, research papers, notes, large coffee cup, and anything else you may need ready to go. You waste valuable time and effort trying to pull things together.
Research ahead of time. If you're writing a crime thriller, know police procedure. Sci f? Know what happens when you're ejected into space with a hole in your space suit (you can live for about 45 seconds. Really.) Historical? Better have the facts and timeline correct. Keep notes on your laptop or handy in a folder.
Have a NaNoWriMo calendar. November is a bitch of a month with Thanksgiving and for some of us, the start of the Christmas season. Maybe you have events or conferences you're going to and won't be home to work. Note this on the calendar and plan how you will work around this to stay on track. Since I have a family dinner on Thanksgiving, on one day I write double the amount (1,666 words is the general amount) so I have to do at least 3,340 to stay on track. You can also use your calendar to plot out the novel- maybe each day is one chapter, so on day 6 you have to kill someone off. It helps to remind you where to start up again and by looking at it ahead of time, the wheels of imagination can spin while you're cooking dinner or doing other things.
Jot down a rough outline. This will help with the continuity. I sometimes find it hard to stop and go- I just want to keep writing until the book is written. Unfortunately I have to eat, sleep, take care of the family, go to the dentist, etc. A rough outline helps me know where I'm heading. It's just rough, so don't stick to it if you have a better idea.
Commit to a group- whether it's the official group (go here) or a bunch of like minded friends and stick with it! Nothing makes a task easier than having support. If you're stuck, they can help you bounce ideas around, encourage you if you fall behind (not the end of the world, keep going, don't quit) and by encouraging them, you'll benefit from the energy.
It's not about having the perfect novel. Or even a good one. That will come later through editing and revising. It's about getting the novel written and into a routine of making time for your passion. Even if you don't finish the novel, if you're several hundred words away from the end, you're close! So you take a few extra days to finish- that's okay! You aren't breaking any rules. So chill. You can do this.
I'm doing NaNoWriMo and have already done one chapter (was stuck on a long car ride). I jotted down some notes. I need to stretch it to an outline. Gotta finish up some research. I have an office and with kids back in school, I have my routine set.
Let's do this together.