This next steps is usually the one that scares off a lot of pantsers and freestyle writers: planning everything for NaNoWriMo.
But don’t fret! I’m not talking about sitting down and writing out a complete outline or plotting out your entire novel.
We’re already halfway done with our NaNoWriMo preparation! So, if you’ve been following along as we get ready for NaNoWriMo, then by now you’ve made the decision that you should do NaNoWriMo this year, you’ve got an accountability partner or a writing group and you’ve started training yourself to set up a writing routine, and you’ve already started gathering your story inspiration and ideas (or, if you plan on freestyling, you’ve been gathering resources on freestyle writing).
Awesome, right? So let’s get to the planning stage of NaNoWriMo Prep.
Planning Versus Pantsing: Choose Your Team
Well, actually that’s a little unfair since I am firmly on the Plantsing team.
I plan out the basics of what I need, then shoot from the hip through writing sprints to get through the plan. So, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting on the fence between the two.
If you do happen to be a planner, now is the time to start your outlines. Unless you know how to use a chisel, don’t carve them into stone (in other words, it’s okay if they’re flexible). Using your favorite method for outlining, start arranging your thoughts and leave them within easy reach of your computer.
Plantsers will want to do the same thing: use your favorite outline process and start getting things into some sort of order. This year, since my project is a historical fiction novel based in the Dust Bowl, that means putting together a timeline that coincides with actual events.
And for you full on pantsers who dislike planning (or simply run out of time to plan anything), that’s okay if you skip this step. Just jot down the basic idea you’re aiming for, and leave it near your computer.
There is plenty more for your to plan than just your outline.
Planning Your Research
I like to use writing sprints to get through the majority of my word count goals. But to be effective, I need to know what I’m writing about before I start the clock. That means research.
In the very least, I need to know what I am going to be researching between sprints. So, in true Naomi style, that means writing out a list of events from the Dust Bowl into my bullet journal. This will help me put together my research list for a future step, so I can have the majority of that done before NaNoWriMo even starts.
The other benefit to this comes in a future step, where I will be setting my daily tasks and my word count goals. I’ll go into more details in step number five, but I like to set up my daily goals to include certain scenes. So knowing when those scenes will coming up, and when I need to research them, is going to help me tremendously.
Even if you are not researching plot-points or timelines, chances are there is still something that you’ll need to research for your novel. If you’re building a fantasy world, you may need to research how to build a language, create a culture, or put together a map of your world. Even if you’re freestyling and pantsing your way to the finish line, will you need to know about weather patterns in your story? Do you already know the city you’re going to be based in?
Planning Your Characters
Another approach to use as you get ready for NaNoWriMo is to preplan your characters.
Backstory, appearance, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, flaws, quirks — get as many of those hashed out as possible. You’ll find that if you can start NaNoWriMo with your characters already set up in your mind, it will be easier to get your characters’ actions to flow on your keyboard if you already know them.
This works whether you’re a planner or a pantser.
Once again, these characters might not be set in stone. Maybe you won’t use them at all once you start writing, or maybe they will change slightly once they’re thrown into the action. Either way, having it set up and done before you sit down to write during NaNoWriMo will help you get through your word count fast.
Planning Your Work Space
The next thing for you to plan out has nothing to do with your novel, but everything to do with your writing routine.
Check out your writing space. Get it organized. Make sure you place your notes and research within reach and your planners or journals or other tools are nearby. Declutter as much as you can, put up your troll dolls and your thinking caps and anything else you can do to make this space more conducive to writing.
It really is better to use the same space every day for writing, but if that space happens to be a shared space (like a piece of the kitchen table, for example), then make sure everything you need stays close by so you can get set up and writing quickly.
Planning Your Meals
This last bit of planning has nothing to do with writing at all, yet if you’re able to get it all done, you’ll have a much easier time with your writing.
Run through your kitchen, take stock of what you have and what you need. Put together meal plans, menus, and grocery lists for the entire month of NaNoWriMo.
If you can, spend an afternoon preparing meals for the slow cooker. The more meals you are able to put together before the start of NaNoWriMo, the less time you have to take away from your writing to worry about it.
Planning Everything for NaNoWriMo Means More than Planning your Novel
Planning for NaNoWriMo may not always mean planning out your novel. Sometimes it can just mean planning elements of your novel, or planning out how you’re going to get this novel written. During the days leading up to NaNoWriMo, it’s really time to take stock of what you need that will make things easier on you.
Trust me, it’s a lot easier to win at NaNoWriMo if you don’t have to struggle just to get through it.
No one knows your needs better than you do. So take the next couple of days to take stock of what you need for next month, and plan out ways to get those things taken care of.
Trust me, you will be glad you did.
Are you following along? Let’s get prepared for NaNoWriMo together!
- NaNoWriMo Prep Step 1: Should You Do NaNoWriMo This Year?
- NaNoWriMo Prep Step 2: Find a partner and start training for NaNoWriMo
- NaNoWriMo Prep Step 3: Gathering Inspiration and Story Ideas for NaNoWriMo
- NaNoWriMo Prep Step 4: Planning Everything for NaNoWriMo
- NaNoWriMo Prep Step 5: Setting up your NaNoWriMo goals